Episode 76 – Quarterly Business Review
In today’s episode we’re going to look at why so many entrepreneurs spin their wheels. They go through every month, every quarter, and every year with these big dreams of what they’re going to do in their business but it never becomes a reality. Today, we’re going to talk about how on a quarterly basis – every 90 days – you are going to dissect your business and look at the different aspects of it to see what’s working and what’s not working. The best of all is that this takes less than half a day to do. So if you can commit half a Saturday or half a Sunday once a quarter, that’s a total of maybe 16 hours of year. Imagine that. You can have incredibly powerful systems within your business that are going to ensure success.
If you are a business owner and want to take your business to the next level, make sure you go out and you get a copy of my book, The Business Bible, which is now available on Amazon.com, through Kindle, and on your iPhone or iPad you can go to the Kindle app and search The Business Bible. This book is a quarter of a century of my work all put into one small book with 10 sections that will help revolutionize every aspect of your business. Make sure you go pick up a copy of it today.
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This is Titanium Life Radio with your host, peak performance speaker and business coach, Arman Sadeghi.
Welcome to all of those amazing business owners, entrepreneurs, and soon-to-be entrepreneurs out there who are absolutely committed to taking their business to another level, listening to this podcast as I share with you the secrets that can make your business grow into something like you never thought possible. Today we’re talking about doing your quarterly review and quarterly plan.
In the last two episodes, we talked about doing an annual review and an annual plan. What that was is where on a yearly basis between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you’re going back and looking at the last year and analyzing what things worked and what things didn’t work, so that you can set yourself up with a blueprint for ultimate business success for next year.
Now, guess what? You’ve got to do the same thing on a quarterly basis. And as you’re doing this on a quarterly basis, hopefully you have an annual plan that you’re going based on. Now some of you are sitting out there listening to this episode and you did not have an annual plan for this year. Well, the first question I ask you is how can you possibly expect to succeed if you don’t have a plan? That’s like traveling, getting to a new city that you’ve never been in, waking up in the morning, and deciding that you’re going to go sightseeing, but having absolutely no plans of what things you’re going to go see, how you’re going to get there, and what you’re going to do when you get there.
See, if you’re in a new city like Athens, you’re not going to end up seeing the best of the best if you just wake up in the morning and go wandering the streets. Yes, sometimes that might be more fun. It might be more relaxed. But the key with your business is what are you looking for? Are you looking to be fun and relaxed, or are you looking to make massive amounts of money, have ultimate success, provide value to people, and deliver the beautiful things that you do to as many people as possible?
So see, if you’re a doctor and you love to help people and you want to save lives, you better have an annual plan and a quarterly plan. Otherwise, how are you going to help change people’s lives if you don’t have those plans in place? So you’ve got your annual plan now and even if you don’t, it’s okay, because in this episode I understand over 80% of business owners start their year without a plan. How can you do a quarterly review and plan even if you didn’t create an annual review? We’ll talk about that in this episode.
If you did create an annual review and plan, well then this episode will be even more powerful for you because you have those things to go on. But what you need to understand is every quarter – now most of you I’m assuming are on a calendar year. A lot of public companies and big companies work on what’s called a fiscal year. All a fiscal year is, if you’ve heard that fancy term, it just means instead of saying “My year starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st, your year starts on some other random date. You could have it where it starts on March 1st or you could have it start on April 22; it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, that’s your fiscal year.
But I’m going to assume that all of you are on a calendar year. If you’re not, just adjust accordingly. But if you are on a calendar year – by the way, we’re conveniently recording this episode and putting it out – adjust around the time that you should have already done your last quarterly analysis. So if you did not do a quarterly analysis for the third quarter of 2016 (or if you’re listening to this episode later, whatever your last quarter was), then you are behind the eight ball.
Don’t be in that place. You’ve got to make sure that every quarter you’re analyzing what you did the previous quarter, and a quarter is simply three months – about 90 days. It’s one-fourth of your entire year and it’s important to see how you’re doing because if you’re not on track for the last quarter and you don’t know what you’re going to do for the next quarter, trust me, you are not going to make your ultimate goals and dreams come true with your business.
So where do you start? First of all, here’s what you need to do. Every year, you must plan your quarterly analysis and review in advance. If you don’t have it on the calendar now, go put them on the calendar right now. In fact, pause this audio if you’re in a place where you have access to your calendar. If you’re on a regular calendar year, put on April 15th, July 15th, October 15th, and January 15th.
Depending on the days you like to work or if you prefer weekends or weekdays for things like this – personally, I always do this stuff on a weekend because I can’t find time during the day with all the employees I have coming at me and all the different companies. You may want to do it on April 16th or 17th or 14th or 13th.
If you’re a CPA, for example, scheduling April 15th as the day you’re going to go do your quarterly review is probably not a good idea. You might be pretty exhausted come April 15th, so you’ll do it on the 18th or whatever date works for you. But ideally, go in your calendar right now and if you want to be doing it at the same time that I do it, here’s what I typically do. I personally like to schedule these reviews for the first Saturday that follows the 15th of the month. Now, sometimes if that 15th of the month is a Sunday, I might do it on the 14th. But for the most time, I like the Saturday that follows the 15th of the month or if the 15th of the month is a Saturday. So go schedule those in your calendar right now. That gives you your four next quarterly reviews. Or if you’re super gung-ho, just schedule it out for the next five years and be done with it, right? Because it doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in, you’d better be doing your quarterly review.
Now what do we go through during our quarterly review? See, I’m assuming you’ve already listened to the last two episodes. If you have not, I would suggest you pause this audio and go back and listen to the last two episodes first, because those episodes are going to give you the basis for what we’re going to talk about here. Assuming you’ve already listened to those episodes, let’s then talk about what you do.
Well, one of the things you’ve got to do is a quarterly financial analysis. You now have 90 days of data – three months of data – in QuickBooks or whatever your financial software is that you can go in and you can look at what kind of a quarter you had. By the way, by the 15th of the month your accounting people better be getting you finalized financials for that quarter and closing that quarter out so there are no more edits being made to it. If it is the 15th of the month and you still don’t have those financials 100%, your accounting people are not doing their job.
Now let me tell you, who is your accounting person if you are a one-person show? Yes, for many of you out there, small companies, one, two, three people, you are your own accounting person. I just had a meeting with a good friend of mine today who’s a sole business owner and he was telling me about how he doesn’t really do that kind of stuff. I’m like, “Are you kidding me? You have to do it. You’ve got to treat your business like a real business. Otherwise, it’s never going to grow to reach those exponentially high numbers.” You have to treat it like a real business no matter what.
But if you have a big company and you already have accounting people, you’d better demand that they deliver you the final financial documents before the 15th of the month so you can do this. In fact, normally I say by the 10th of the month, but this is a quarterly review, so we give them a couple extra days to really put things together, make it real nice for you, and give you all of those packets.
Now if you used an outsourced accounting service like the one that I use and I suggest people do, then you just make sure that they deliver the stuff to you. But then what you’ve got to do is analyze those financials. What you’ve got to do – hopefully you have an annual plan, so now you’re looking at it and going, “Am I on track with what we said we’re going to do? Are we spending too much or are we spending too little?” By the way, spending too little sometimes, it’s as big of a problem as spending too much.
See, many of you had a plan to do this massive marketing thing but you haven’t done it yet and you wonder why your sales aren’t where they need to be. Maybe you’re spending too little. In other cases, maybe you had a plan of hiring someone and you didn’t hire that person. See, you would be under budget and that’s not good either in all cases. You don’t always think that spending money is bad and saving money is good.
No, because in some cases, that’s why some businesses never grow because they don’t ever invest into it. It’s like a fire that you don’t put any logs into; at some point, you’re going to have to throw those logs in to get the heat, right? And if you’re sitting around the campfire and you’re freezing to death and you don’t have any more wood, maybe if you have a little bit of wood, you throw it in there. You get some fire going and you warm up. Now that gives you the energy and the heat you need to go out there to collect more wood and bring it back, and that’s how you need to think about your business.
Now in some cases, you’re overspending. Are you overspending because you’re paying too much for a certain product or service? Are you using products or services that maybe you shouldn’t be? Or in some cases – I guarantee you in many of your cases – do you have these online services that you pay for that you don’t use? Do you have a Box account and a Dropbox account? Do you have some Google email thing and maybe you had more employees before and you’re still paying for some of those accounts? Do you have services that you don’t necessarily need? Do you have water delivery and maybe you shouldn’t have water delivery? I don’t know what it is, but you’ve got to be analyzing that stuff and looking at where you are.
Let’s say you do your quarterly financial analysis and you recognize that you’re right where you should be. Are you in good shape? Not necessarily, because now we have to look and say, “Okay, we spent the money that we were planning on spending, but did we get the results we expected?” Meaning if you stuck to your budget, did you hit your sales targets? Guess what? Every quarter, you’d better have sales targets. But guess what? If you don’t have sales targets for the year and you don’t have sales targets for the quarter, there’s no way for you to know last quarter if you achieved your sales targets.
By sales targets, I don’t mean some imaginary number that’s in your head. I mean a real number that’s somewhere on a piece of paper or in an electronic document. Now if you didn’t have that stuff, good. I’m glad you’re doing the quarterly review and planning now, because guess what? There is a reason it’s called the quarterly review and plan, because you’re now going to create your plan for this coming quarter, the one that we’re in now.
You’re 15 days into it; that’s okay. You’re still not that far into it that you can’t make changes, so you can plan what you’re going to do for this quarter. So 90 days from now when you do your next quarterly review, you actually will have things to look at.
But if you stuck to your budget, did you meet or exceed your expectations for sales? See, if you didn’t meet your sales goals, you better make sure that you fell low on your budgets because you can’t spend money like you’re hitting your sales targets but then not hit them. Or on the other hand, what if you massively exceeded your sales targets but you went over budget to do it? Well, then you just analyze “Did I maintain my margins?” These are things I’ll talk about during the financial episode, so if you don’t know exactly what some of these terms mean, it’s okay. We’ll talk about it more there.
But if you’re achieving your goals in terms of sales, “Okay, we brought in this much money. That’s what we wanted.” Or, “We exceeded that. We brought in a lot more but we spent more to do it,” sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s not good. The question is how much did you spend in addition to your budget to bring in that extra revenue? The key is you go back, you look at the margins, and see what the profit margin was on that incremental or additional revenue that you brought in. That’s a critical piece of making sure you don’t fall into the trap of what’s called “Grow, grow, gone.” You hear this with business all the time where they grow and they grow and they grow and they grow…and they go bankrupt. It’s because they’re not focused on those margins and they’re not looking at their targets of budgets and sales. They’re only looking at one side of the equation.
We’re going to make sure that mistake doesn’t happen for you. Now for my business clients, every single one of them, we do a quarterly analysis and review. Without that, I can’t imagine how you could succeed. So if you’re listening to this podcast episode out there, no matter how small or how big your business is, even if it is a side business that you have and you have a full-time job, I don’t care. You must maintain your quarterly review and plan and you must maintain financial records.
By the way, I’m not suggesting that your financial records that you keep you send to the IRS. So if you have a little business – I talked about the first business I ever had, and if you haven’t read my book, go pick up a copy of my book. Go on Amazon, on the Kindle app, and download it. It’s now available for you. If you read the first story, it’s the first business I created when I was a little kid. I was like 11 years old and I started this baseball card business, and guess what? Even if you are an 11-year-old kid selling baseball cards door-to-door, you better be keeping track of your financials. It’s that simple.
Some of you are running businesses where you have over $100,000 or $500,000 in revenue and you still don’t have accurate financials. The only time you even do any analysis is to prepare for taxes. You can’t have that – not anymore. Today’s the last day I’m going to allow you guys to get away with that. Every quarter, you’ve got to have this, and of course you’ve got to have a monthly, but right now we’re talking about quarterly.
So then the next thing you do is let’s again follow this. We looked at our finances, right? How are we doing in terms of expenses and revenue? Then the next thing is okay, what did sales look like? How did we sell to get there? So for example, if we had an exceptionally good month, what products or services – what SKUs, if you want to look at it that way – what sold really well and what didn’t sell well, and why did it sell well? Did something sell well because it was seasonal? Are we in the Christmas tree business and we had a good month because Christmas is coming up? Or is something else going on? Did you hire a new salesperson that’s doing well? Is there something going on in the economy or the market? Is it something sustainable?
And what things did you do right? Did you have an ad campaign that was particularly successful? Did you have a social media campaign that worked exceptionally well? What worked and what did not work? What did we get in terms of sales? It’s really important because as you look into that as I explained in the first episode about doing a business review on an annual basis, it’s the same thing but now on a quarterly basis. It’s easier because it’s less stuff to think about, right? So what worked and what didn’t work?
Now what you do is you say, “Okay, I know what my goals are. I know what I want for the year: how much profit I want to make, how much money I want to make, what I want to achieve. I see what’s been working and what hasn’t been working. Do I need to increase or decrease or change my marketing?” Because marketing leads to sales, sales lead to revenues, and when run properly, revenues can lead to profits if you keep your expenses where they need to be.
So now if sales aren’t where they need to be, we start looking at marketing or we look at different things that lead to sales, like hiring salespeople or you spending more time selling. See, it all leads to one another, and you’ve got to make sure you follow the trail. Now the key of course is you’ve got to start at the end and work your way backwards, then work your way forward again. We started with financials, then we went to sales, now we go to marketing.
The next thing is you’ve got to dig down even deeper and you start looking at employee analysis and key performance indicators. Again, it doesn’t matter if you have 100 employees, you have 10 employees, you have two employees, or you are the only employee you have. You still have employees that you need to analyze. Really, what you’re analyzing is the job descriptions that I explained to you before, meaning that if you do your own accounting, you do your own sales, you do your own marketing, you do your own services, well guess what? You just have four or five different job descriptions, so you analyze how well you did in each of those areas.
In fact, for my independent business owners, I do this crazy thing where I have them do an employee review like you would get if you worked for someone else. I have them do an employee review for themselves. But the trick is at the top of the review, I have them put the job description. Meaning, I’ll have my business owners give themselves a review in terms of the job they did for example as an accountant. This is one really good way, by the way, to get people to outsource their accounting and QuickBooks and all that stuff, is when they give themselves a review. They sit there and I force them to give themselves a review.
What they realize – and listen to this really carefully, my friends, especially if you are a small, small business owner or an independent operator. As you’re giving yourself that review, the question is would you fire you if you were your boss? Would you fire yourself as a salesperson? Would you fire yourself as an accountant? Would you fire yourself as a marketing person? And if the answer is yes, well guess what? You’re down to two choices: you either need to fire yourself (and that means hire someone else to do the job) or what you need to do is put yourself on a performance improvement plan, where you write yourself up and you give yourself 30, 60, or 90 days to change your ways.
By the way, the same applies to your employees. If your accounting is not where it needs to be, you get the person in, you sit them down, you do a review with them, and you give them a performance improvement plan, also known as a PIP. That PIP can be for 30, 60, or 90 days typically. Basically, it’s a way of saying, “Look, today I should have fired you, but I’m not going to because I believe in you. I’m going to give you a chance to succeed. Here are the things I expect from you, here’s how I expect you to get them. Now, do you have any questions for me? Are there any resources you need? Are there any tools you need?”
This works just as well with your employees as it does with you, and I highly recommend that every quarter, every employee in your organization is analyzed. Now, you don’t need an official written job review every quarter; you do that every year typically in business. But you need to do an informal one and get some quick notes. It might just be a two-minute review of “How is this person doing?” And if they’re on the right track and there’s nothing special, well then you leave it. But if they’re really kicking butt, they’re doing an amazing job, hey, now might be a time that you give them a review or you give them a pay raise. You talk to them about what a great job they’re doing. Maybe you just buy them lunch – I don’t care – but you need to let them know.
But more importantly, what if they’re not doing such a great job? See, now is the time to tell them, to analyze a quarter, so that it’s not piling up and a quarter is not turning into six months and six months turns into a year and a year turns into years and years of falling behind. You want to make sure you do that. By the way, again, that also applies to you as an individual business owner. All of the different hats you wear, all of your different job descriptions, you must give yourself a review. You must give yourself that quarterly review and determine how you’re doing.
I call that your HR analysis, which for a small company, again, might just be all the job descriptions and all the hats that you wear. But you need to make sure you then look at those key performance indicators. If you don’t know what KPIs are, go back. I have a podcast episode – in fact, I have two different podcast episodes dedicated just to KPIs. Go back and listen to those. What you’re going to do then is look at these KPIs. Analyze how you are doing in terms of KPIs.
Now by the way, what happens if you’re driving a car and your KPI dashboard says everything is fine? The oil light is not on, the fuel light is not on, the check engine light is not on, but then your car is stuck on the side of the road? What do you do? You ask a question of, “Hmm…I wonder what else could be wrong?” Yes? See, in your business it’s the same way. If you don’t have KPIs, you’re just flying blind. But if you have KPIs, you have those key performance indicators. Now what you do is you look at where your KPIs are and then you compare that to where the company is. You do that on a monthly basis.
But on a quarterly basis, it’s essential that you realign and readjust your KPIs, meaning if you decided that for example a certain KPI was sales you needed a certain amount of sales. Or you needed a certain number of leads, let’s say. You have a marketing campaign and you said, “Well, I need to have 25 leads a month.” Now, you’re looking at the end of the quarter and you’re like, “Oh my gosh! Twenty-five leads a month? That would have been 75 leads, and I actually got 100 leads. Yay! We’re kicking butt in that category.” But then you look at sales and you’re falling short on sales.
Or maybe your KPIs are good for marketing and your KPIs are even good for sales, but you can’t afford to make payroll or you’re losing money – you’re bleeding, right? What do you do in that case? Well in that case, you are the car that’s pulled over on the side of the road, broken down, but everything looks fine. So you go and you analyze, “Okay, do I have the right expectations for marketing? Maybe I need to get more leads. Or maybe I need more sales.” Maybe you need to go after different verticals or different services that you need to push out there. But whatever it is, you’ve got to constantly look at that.
By the way, sometimes the opposite is true as well. You see this with a lot of really intelligent business owners – like you out there – where for example, you might have these KPIs that you’re always falling short on. It doesn’t look like you’re ever hitting your goals, yet at the end of the month, you’re doing just fine financially with the business. If that’s the case, then we need to realign and readjust your KPIs the other way, because the secret to life, my friends, is to be happy with who you are and what you have, while going after everything that you wanted.
The secret to business is the same thing. You need to be happy with where your business is today and what you have in your business today, while you massively try to grow it. So shooting for the stars just so you can land on the moon is one of the silliest things you can do and it’s certainly not the way I would run my business. So you don’t want to have all these ridiculous KPIs that are impossible to get to – by the way, for yourself and your employees. You don’t want to set these super-high goals because you just think, “Oh, they’ll just fall short and we’ll still get the goal.” So again, you need to look at both sides of the equation: your KPIs and then the results that you’re getting. See if anything needs to be readjusted.
And then finally, the last thing you do as part of any planning session is what? Schedule it. It’s not just talking about it, it’s not about thinking about it. It’s about scheduling it. So every quarter, you are scheduling all of the critical things for the next month. You’re making sure that you have on your calendar a specific date and a specific time that you’re going to review your financials monthly. You schedule when you’re going to review your KPIs – key performance indicators – on a weekly basis. You schedule the meetings with your key people, key vendors, key customers, key employees. Whatever it is, you schedule all that stuff in so all of those things are on a calendar.
By the way, any time you hear me talk about calendaring something, I’m talking about you using a digital online calendar that is available to you across all of your devices. I don’t care what you use. I use Google Calendar. If you use Google Calendar, you’ve already got this. Outlook does this as well. But if you’re using a calendar that is not available on your phone, on your tablet, on your laptop, on your computer, and every computer you could possibly use, including the one in the airport, then you are not doing it right. You’ve got to make sure that calendar is available across all of those different devices.
And then the next thing is this: calendars are not designed to be something where you always stick to your schedule. I guarantee you you’re going to have changes to your schedule. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? When you create this schedule for the next quarter, you are undoubtedly going to decide to take certain days off. Certain days, something urgent will come up. Things will need to move around. But the key is this. I have three words for you: drag and drop.
That means if you put something on your calendar, you cannot delete it. You can’t get rid of it and you can’t ignore it, but you can drag and drop it. So if you scheduled something for Saturday and you can’t do it, put it to Sunday. Can’t do it Sunday morning, put it to Sunday night. Can’t do it Sunday night, it goes to Monday, to Tuesday, to Wednesday, to next weekend. Either way, you just keep dragging and dropping this stuff.
By the way, if you get to a point in the year where you have an entire weekend with 50 different blocks of time for all these random different things, it means you are not taking care of the important things in your business and you’re focused too much on the urgent. If you don’t get that reference to important and urgent, go back and listen to my episode about time management, because it’s critical for you as business owners to make sure you’re managing your time properly and putting in enough focus on the important things, as opposed to constantly doing the urgent things.
Now the other trick to schedule things in here as you’re doing your quarterly review and planning, is what you’ve got to do is the block of time needs to represent how long it’s actually going to take to do that task. Some things take 15 minutes, some take 30 minutes, some take an hour, two hours, five hours, and some things are all day. Many things you can schedule over multiple days, especially those areas where you have tasks that you don’t like to do.
This is not a time management podcast episode, but I will teach you this one little aspect. If you have projects in areas you don’t like to deal with, such as finances for many of you or sales, instead of putting these big, huge blocks of four hours, an hour, or 30 minutes, what if you tried to put a 10-minute block on your calendar? Would you be willing to make cold calls for 10 minutes? Would you be willing to analyze your financials for 10 minutes? Would you be willing to look at one little thing? If you would, good. Then instead of scheduling one one-hour block, schedule four 15-minute blocks or six 10-minute blocks, and see the power of that. When you look at your calendar and you’re like, “Okay, I can put up with anything for 10 minutes. I can go through any kind of pain for 15 minutes,” and that’s the secret to it.
So what I want you to do if it is one of those times where you need to do a quarterly review, then make sure you get out there and you do that quarterly review and plan. By the way, I have quarterly events available for businesspeople in different cities where we actually do this as a group. I have somewhere we do it in person. I have others where we do it via webinar and others which are guided. The way that it works is you just listen to audio and you pause, go do what it says, and you come back.
Of course with any of the things like this, the way to have maximum accountability is to be in a room. But I understand people listen to this podcast from all over the world and you may not be able to get to one of my quarterly reviews. If you can, come do it with us. Typically, they are a half a day or daylong workshop where we get into these things and we focus on making sure that you look at your last quarter and look at the quarter yet to come.
Now for many of you, I know on an annual basis you can get to an event. Let’s say that I have one that’s two days. But on a quarterly basis if it’s a little tougher for you, that’s okay. Ideally, you get in there. We make it where these things are incredibly powerful, but if you can’t, then use one of the other resources and go to titaniumsuccess.com to see what we have available in your area and what’s coming up via webinar. Sometimes, we even do Facebook Live stuff that’s free to you.
So look for those different opportunities but most importantly, make sure that you absolutely do this. Get out there every day, kick butt in your business, be one of those incredibly powerful entrepreneurs who is fueled by rocket fuel, be Titanium, and get out every day and lead with your heart.
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Do you have a question you’ve been dying to ask me about your business, about your health, fitness, finances, relationships, whatever it may be? Go to my social media right now and ask me your question and I’m going to answer it on a future episode. You can always follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @titaniumsuccess. So reach out to me and I’ll make sure to get your questions answered on a future episode.
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