Last week, I was talking to a reporter about the challenges of growing a small business. Because I’ve founded a company that has grown to over $100M in annual sales, the reporter wanted me to share some tips. We talked for a while and I trust a good article on the topic will come out in her magazine sometime soon. But one question got me thinking about something I’ve come to take for granted, even though I teach it quite a bit.
“While growing the company, how did you stay focused on your goals when you fell short of them? Wasn’t it easy to get discouraged?
Of course, discouragement is part of the entrepreneurial journey. We all experience it. But there’s something I’ve found that’s very useful in helping us stay focused on our bigger goals: the offsite quarterly planning rhythm.
I write and speak about our quarterly planning rhythm all the time. But, I rarely talk about it in terms of its usefulness in helping entrepreneurs avoid discouragement and stay focused on the goals. Here are a few reasons why it’s so helpful:
- Getting away from the business every quarter provides perspective
- Taking time to review the accomplishments of the past 90 days is inspiring—and surprising
- Pointing out the “lessons learned” sharpens the focus for the coming quarter
- Clarifying the company’s goals for the coming quarter aligns the company and enhances success
- Most of all, the quarterly planning process affords an opportunity to measure success against the past instead of measuring it against the (unfulfilled) future, which has a powerful psychological effect on the entrepreneur and her team.
Done right, the quarterly planning exercises provide a type of fulfillment that is empowering and focusing for the company.
SBS Idea of the Day: If you don’t have a one or two-day offsite quarterly planning built into your calendar, I strongly urge you to build it into your calendar today. When that day (or those days) come, do not under any circumstances, push off the planning. Just do it. And make sure you start with 30 or 60 minutes to list your “accomplishments,” followed by another 30 or 60 minutes of “lessons learned” over the prior quarter.