How to Create a Quarterly Plan to Boost Productivity & Profits

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become a bit planning-obsessed recently. And at the time I’m writing this post, the New Year (2018!) is just around the corner, so I have a feeling I’m not the only one.

One of my favorite ways to stay on track to hit all of my goals is to create a quarterly plan for my business. I haven’t heard too many people talk about this, but it’s been a super valuable process for me so I wanted to share it with you today. Ready?

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This post contains affiliate links for products I love. If you purchase a product through my link, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

 

What is a quarterly plan?

A quarterly plan is a document that outlines your goals, plans, and projections for the upcoming quarter. Oh, and if you’re not sure what a quarter is, picture yourself taking a yearly calendar and breaking it up into four 3-month chunks, starting with January. So Quarter 1 is January-March, Quarter 2 is April-June, and so on. 

There are 7 sections I recommend including in your quarterly plan, which I’m breaking down for you below. But first, you might be wondering why you should focus on quarters instead of months, or even the entire year… 

Why focus on quarters?

Planning in quarters helps you see the bigger picture of where you’re headed but without getting overwhelmed by trying to plan out a huge chunk of time (say, a year) at once. Yes, it’s nice to have overarching business goals for the entire year, but planning one quarter at a time will allow you to drill down on your goals and plans and stay hyper-focused. 

Side note: I love a good monthly plan, and my monthly planning process is relatively similar to my quarterly plan setup. In your quarterly plan you’ll be pulling goals and plans from your yearly goals, and then in your monthly plan you’ll pull from your quarterly plan. So we’re just breaking things down into smaller and smaller chunks as we move into smaller time periods (year → quarter → month).

Make sense? 

How far in advance should I do my quarterly planning?

This is totally up to you, but what works best for me is sitting down to make my quarterly plan about 1 month before the next quarter starts. So if I’m making my quarterly plan for Q3 (July-September), I’d ideally work on it at the beginning of June. 

Keep in mind that this timing may or may not work for you. You might personally want to be a bit closer to the month of July before you start making your Q3 plan, but the only way to figure that out is through trial-and-error. Play around until you find the timing that works best for you. 

The 7 key sections to include in your quarterly plan

Now for the juicy stuff: What exactly should you include in your quarterly plan?

The 7 key sections I suggest including are: 

  1. Overarching goals for the quarter

  2. Special events and promotions

  3. Your quarterly content calendar

  4. Social media goals and plans

  5. Email list goals and plans

  6. Profit projection and goals

  7. Any other goals or plans you’re focused on during this quarter 

Let’s get started!

section 1. Overarching goals for the quarter

I suggest choosing 3 main goals to focus on in each quarter. You could maybe push it to 5 goals (I’ve been known to do that) but it really depends on how much time you have available to work on your business.

It’s always better to do less but with more intention, so choose a few big goals you’d like to knock out this quarter, not a bajillion. 

If you’ve already created some sort of annual plan with your goals for the entire year, you can pull from that list in this step.

For example, if one of your yearly goals is to be interviewed on 10 podcasts, you might make it your quarterly goal to record interviews for 3 podcasts. 

Other examples of goals might include things like: 

  • Finish creating an ebook or course you’re working on

  • Launch a new paid offering or service

  • Book 5 new clients

  • Increase your affiliate income by 25% 

Of course, goal-setting is a highly personal process. It’s important to focus on the things that will have the biggest impact for your business (no one else’s) and then set clear, concrete goals to make those things happen. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

1. What would I like to achieve or accomplish in the next three months?

2. What will give me the biggest return-on-my-investment for the time I put into it?

3. Which of my annual goals will fit nicely and feel exciting to work toward this quarter?

section 2. Special events and promos

Next, it’s time to take note of any big events, promotions, or sales you want to run in the next three months. These might be live events that you’re putting on for your audience, course or product launches, or launches that you’re an affiliate for.

Write all of these things down in your quarterly plan, including the date range when they’re happening. This will be super helpful in the next section when you plan out your quarterly content calendar. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

1. What big and important things are happening in the next three months that I want to promote or be part of?

2. Are my peers hosting any fun events, sales, or launches that I know my audience would be interested in?

3. What holidays are coming up in this quarter? (Holidays are great opportunities to host special events or sales, or to use as inspiration for your content).

section 3. Your content calendar

Now it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty and start mapping out your blog content (or podcast, video, etc.) for the next three months.

This might sound a bit daunting, but I promise that if you use my process (described below) you’ll see that it’s not nearly as hard as you’re thinking it’s gonna be,

The first step is to choose a “theme” for your content for each of the three months in the upcoming quarter. Your themes can be literally anything, and they’ll obviously vary depending on the niche of your blog.

As an example, themes I might choose for my content are “email list building”, “copywriting tips”, or “sales pages”. 

Use the special events, holidays, and promos you wrote down in Section 2 of your quarterly plan to inspire your content themes.

For example, if you’re planning to launch a new ebook about gardening in August, you’ll want your content in the weeks leading up to that launch to be about gardening. This will generate interest in your ebook, establish your expertise, and give you a chance to grow the waitlist for the ebook. 

After you’ve chosen a theme for each of the 3 months in the quarter, start jotting down ideas of blog posts you could write within each of those themes. Spend at least 5-10 minutes brainstorming here. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

1. What questions does my audience often ask me about this topic? What do I see them struggling with?

2. Which of my blog posts on this topic have been really popular in the past? Can I write something similar but with a fresh approach or a new perspective?

3. How can I add value while also generating interest for a special event or launch that’s coming up? 

Come up with 5-8 blog post ideas for each of your 3 main content themes. Then, select your best ideas from the list and slot them into your content calendar.

Need some help writing speedy blog posts? I got you! Check out this free workbook:

section 4. Social media goals and plans

Next up we’re tackling social media. In this section, you’ll write down your current social media stats and how much you want to grow each account in the upcoming quarter. You might also list social media goals that aren’t related to numbers and stats, like:

  • Post on Instagram a minimum of 3 times per week.

  • Do one Facebook Live per week.

  • Start using Tailwind (*affiliate link) to grow my Pinterest account.

Questions to ask yourself:

1. How many new followers would I like to get on each social platform this quarter?

2. Which social media platforms do I want to focus on growing most this quarter?

3. How do I want to show up on social media this quarter? I.e., What type of content do I want to create, share, and post on my social media accounts?

section 5. Email list growth and plans.

This section is similar to the last, only we’re now turning our attention to our email lists. I truly believe that setting goals and writing them down is the first step towards making them happen, so let’s do that here. 

Questions to ask yourself:

1. How many new subscribers would I like to gain this quarter?

2. What opt-in freebies would I like to create?

3. How often would I like to email my list?

4. What types of things would I like to share with my email subscribers in my newsletters?

Once you’ve completed the email list section, we’re moving onto the fun stuff: money!

6. Profit projections and goals.

If you’ve been making money from your business pretty consistently, you’ll have a good idea of how much you can expect to make over the next few months. Remember to take into account any special events or promos coming up that you wrote down in Section 2.

For example, if you’re releasing a new course, you’ll likely have a surge in income during your launch.

Questions to ask yourself:

1. How much money do I want to make from my business this quarter?

2. What special events or promos might increase my earnings?

3. Is there anything that might decrease my earnings? (For example, leaving an affiliate program, reducing the number of clients you work with, etc.).

4. What income goal(s) will I set to challenge myself this quarter?

If you like, you can set three goals here: A realistic goal, a stretch goal, and a super-stretch goal.

For example, your realistic goal might be $3,000. Your stretch goal might be $5,00. And your super-stretch goal might be $10,000.

section 7. Any other goals or plans.

Lastly, I always like to include a catch-all section for anything that doesn’t fit into the other six. If there’s anything else you’d like to track, plan for, or set goals around, write about it in this section.  This might include:

  • Plans for expanding my team or hiring new contractors

  • Personal goals and plans (travel, health, etc.)

  • Goals like reducing my expenses by a certain percent, increasing my monthly visitors, or hitting a certain number of podcast downloads

What’s next after creating my quarterly plan?

Now that you’ve written your quarterly plan, you’ll want to store it somewhere safe where you can refer back to it every month (either on your computer, or maybe in Google Drive or Dropbox). If you’re more of a pen-and-paper person, you could also create a written quarterly plan and pin it up in your office. 

I suggest taking a few minutes to review your quarterly plan at least once each month. I usually pull mine out at the beginning of each month to refresh myself on my goals and what I’m working toward. Then I dive into creating my monthly plan. If you want me to write a follow-up post on how I create monthly plans for my business, let me know!

Have you ever created a quarterly plan for your biz? If not, are you going to try out this method? Let me know if you have any questions!

 
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