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Quarterly Business Planning: What It Is & Why You Should Do It

Shanae Jones working at a table, with Nikki Porcher working on a couch

Quarterly business planning is exactly what you think it is, setting goals for the next three months and mapping out what it's going to take to achieve them. We’ve been doing quarterly planning sessions at Buy From A Black Woman since 2019. They’ve helped us grow strategically, which is why we want to share how to incorporate quarterly planning into your businesses with all Black Women Business Owners.

What is Quarterly Business Planning?

Quarterly business planning is the strategic practice of breaking an annual plan into four manageable increments, and using the implementation of short-term goals to achieve the company’s long-term objectives. Business leaders use this approach to:

  • Review past performance and keep track of wins

  • Determine the best key performance indicators for measuring progress

  • Set realistic goals

  • Document the strategic plans necessary to meet said goals

  • Prepare for the coming quarter

The goal is to put yourself in the best possible position to succeed by preparing for what lies ahead.

What Are The Benefits of Quarterly Business Planning?

Quarterly business planning helps you operate more efficiently and perform better overall. It allows you to focus on what it takes to make a real difference in your business, without losing track of your main goals. If done correctly, you can use quarterly planning sessions to helps you:

  1. Bring clarity and transparency so everyone on the team knows the goals, deadlines and what’s expected of them.

  2. Stay in alignment since you’re working towards your overarching goals.

  3. Minimize overwhelm because you have smaller, short-term targets and you’re providing adequate support to meet them.

  4. Be proactive rather than reactive since you’re anticipating your business needs, factoring in potential challenges and also optimizing for opportunities.

  5. Stay motivated because you see the results of your work and get to celebrate your wins along the way.

  6. Stay on track because you’re monitoring progress towards your goals and can adjust in order to stay on target if necessary.

How To Plan For The Quarter

Step 1: Review Last Quarter

How did you do last quarter? What worked and what didn’t go as expected? Thoroughly review your performance over the past three months to get an idea of how you’re performing overall, what you need to adjust (if anything) and what lessons you can take into the next quarter.

Step 2: Preview Next Quarter

Make a list of the things you could do to improve your performance this quarter, then highlight the actions that would have a direct impact on your objectives. Do you foresee any obstacles or challenges that could keep you from implementing these plans? If so, what steps can you take to avoid them or minimize friction?

Next, consider what’s happening over the next three months that needs to be factored into your planning for the quarter.

Step 3: Determine Areas of Focus

What specific areas do you want to focus on for the quarter? Do you want to develop a new product, improve your customer retention, plan an event? Pick areas that will help you develop and scale your business.

Step 4: Define Success

Determine what success looks like for each focus area, be specific. Then pick KPIs that’ll help you measure your progress.

Step 5: Create An Action Plan

Now that you have your goals, write out the key steps you need to take to hit them. Do this for each focus area. For added accountability and effectiveness, put a due date/deadline and the name of the person responsible for executing the step next to each action item.

Step 6: Establish Budget

Don’t forget to allocate budget for the quarter. What resources do you need to effectively carry out your plans?

Start Here, Let’s Plan Together

You can use quarterly business planning to set realistic goals, stay on track and hold yourself accountable. Plus, the more organized you are, the more likely you are to achieve your goals, which is what you want, right?!

So we’ve created a downloadable quarterly planning template to make this process easier for you. Start by downloading it and making it your own if you need to. Then just follow the steps we’ve outlined above and watch what happens!

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