6 Things You Must Include In Your Q4 Plan
The calendar year may be slowly winding down, but that doesn’t mean your business is. Your year has probably seen its share of ups and downs, where certain aspects of the plans you laid out back in January have exceeded your wildest expectations, while other things… well, they didn’t quite go the way you imagined.
Now that Q4 is drawing near, you’ll want to finish the year strong. How will you do that? You need a plan. More specifically, you need a great one that includes certain key elements.
Strategy. It’s easy to get so caught up in the moment that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Strategy is where you take a step back and look at the big picture. Sure, Q4 is important, but how does it affect your long-term goals? What is the overall approach? What big goals are you trying to accomplish? A business quarter is long enough so that you can set at least one major goal, but short enough so you won’t have to wait forever until it’s finished. What will your goal be?
Tactics. While a quarterly plan is often strategic in nature, it won’t get far without good daily or weekly tactical planning. If strategy is viewing things from on high, tactics are about getting down and dirty at ground level. It’s the little things that often get overlooked, but end up making a large difference. What methods will you use to implement your overall goals on a day-to-day basis? What will this plan look like to those responsible for different pieces of it?
Marketing Budget. Wouldn’t it be great if you had an unlimited marketing budget so you could reach every person on the globe through every medium known to humankind? The reality is you don’t. Decisions have to be made as to what’s feasible and what provides the best ROI. One of the most basic marketing considerations isn’t how you’re going to reach the masses. It’s what part of the masses you can actually afford to reach. PRO tip: Tracking everything is KEY.
Deadlines. We all have them. Nobody likes them. The unavoidable truth is that there comes a time when the product simply must ship. There are also countless ‘milestones’ that need to be hit along the way if the business if going to be successful. Without them, you’re simply drifting. The real challenge is to figure out which ones are critical and to make sure both you and others have the resources and the organization needed to reach them.
Challenges. This part of a business plan is sometimes called SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s a way of looking at your business’ future by examining where it’s been successful and where it’s struggled. It also includes identifying areas for growth and the bottlenecks that might throttle it. After all, it’s tough to take advantage of an opportunity you didn’t see.
Flexibility. It’s been said that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. By the same token, no business plan is set in stone. Things can and will change, and your business plan must change with it. What will you do if your product launch has to be delayed until next quarter? What if your product sales take off exponentially? Do you have the structure in place to properly support it? This type of ‘what-if’ analysis can either save your sanity or position you for future success. Most likely it’ll do a little bit of both.
A quarterly business plan is more than a document you create because you’re supposed to. It’s more like a roadmap to keep you on the right path. With all the holidays mixed into Q4, it can be easy to lose your way. Refer to your business plan often and have a great Q4!