Some key things to assess during a quarterly business review.
A quarterly business review is essential for businesses that want to stay on track with their goals.
While an end-of-year business review is more common or popular, your business will definitely benefit from a quarterly review.
The idea of doing a business review can seem scary to some business owners. However, there’s no need to be scared. Think of a quarterly business review as a great opportunity to check how well your business is doing, and to strategize.
So, now that you understand why a review is important, let’s look at some important questions to ask during the review process.
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1. WHAT WORKED REALLY WELL LAST QUARTER?
One of the first questions to ask during a business review is “What worked really well?”
Asking this question will help you identify what is working in your business, so you can continue to do more of it. When you find a winning strategy, it makes sense to continue with it.
When you think about this question, think about the different areas of your business and the strategies you used. For example, what were your marketing strategies? Which one was the most effective?
Also, consider any new strategy or something new you did in your business and the results. For example, maybe you started sending more emails to your subscribers, and that increased sales. Or, maybe you used Facebook ads for the first time and got some very good results.
While there are lots of things that could go well in your business, focus on the things that brought the biggest results or made a big difference in your business.
Just to clarify. Small results matter too, but if you want to maximize your time and effort, your focus should be on the things that yield the biggest return on investment.
Make a note of the things that worked really well, and remember to dig in a bit deeper to understand why they worked. This is to ensure that it wasn’t a fluke or simply luck (though there’s nothing wrong with getting lucky). However, you need more than luck to get consistent results.
2. DID YOU ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS?
At the beginning of a new quarter, you should set some goals and create a quarterly business plan. Ideally, you should do this at the end of a quarter after the review process.
Psst…if you don’t know how to create a quarterly business plan, you can download a free copy of my quarterly business plan cheat sheet to help you get started.
One of the things you need to do during a quarterly business review is to ascertain whether you achieved your goals. And, the way to do that is to compare your achievements with the success criteria you set at the beginning of the quarter, or you can use key performance indicators or the metrics you chose.
You won’t know whether you achieved your goals unless you track them and have a way of evaluating them. For instance, if you gained one hundred new subscribers and your goal was to gain three hundred subscribers, you can see that you didn’t quite meet your goal. However, if you had no specific goal or success criteria, you’d be happy with this result.
If you want to grow your business or be successful, it’s very important to set goals and track your performance. You don’t want to run your business on the fly or without a clear strategy. Setting goals is the easiest way to ensure your business is going in the right direction.
When you think about this question, think about your revenue, sales, and marketing goals. Those areas of your business are the most important, so always try to set goals for them.
Lastly, reviewing your goals will help you identify where you fell short, what went wrong, and how to fix things. This is one of the keys to your success.
3. WHAT DIDN’T WORK SO WELL?
Sadly, it’s a fact of life that things don’t always go as planned. However, to succeed in business or life, you need to have the ability to bounce back from setbacks or disappointments.
A quarterly business review is incomplete if you don’t identify what didn’t work so well (or isn’t working so well).
Maybe you tried a new strategy and it flopped. Or, maybe you made some changes or did things differently, and you didn’t get the desired result. For instance, maybe you increased your prices, sent more emails to your list, and ended up with more unsubscribes than normal, or maybe it was something else.
Assessing what didn’t work so well will help you to make better and smarter decisions for your business. Conversely, if you don’t know what isn’t working, you will keep doing the same thing, and keep getting poor results.
When it comes to doing a business review, you have to be honest with yourself. It doesn’t matter how much you like an idea, a particular strategy, or a social media platform. If it doesn’t add anything to your business, then you should consider moving away from it.
Don’t waste your time or resources on things that won’t help you grow your business or boost your profits. So, do a deep dive into your business strategies and decisions, identify what is not working, and come up with better/smarter alternatives.
4. WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE?
As a business owner, it’s inevitable that you are going to face some challenges. Some of these challenges will be the result of poor decision-making, while others will be completely out of your control.
To ensure your business keeps moving in the right direction, you need to identify potential challenges, so you can plan ahead.
The quarterly business review process is a perfect time to recognize the challenges and obstacles you faced, assess whether they are still ongoing, identify new challenges, and outline a plan to deal with them.
This process is even more important if you didn’t achieve your goals.
Evaluate the challenges you faced and how they affected your plans (if they did), and whether they could have been avoided.
Challenges are part and parcel of running a business. However, if you can anticipate them in advance, you will be better prepared to deal with them.
So, take a good look at the obstacles you faced in the last quarter, and come up with a plan to stop them from happening again (or to overcome them if they are ongoing).
5. WHAT COULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
Looking back at your business performance, would you have done things differently? If yes, what would you have done differently?
The answer to this question is important because while we can’t always go back to fix or undo our mistakes or wrong decisions, we can certainly learn from them. So, before you start setting new goals or deciding what strategies to use next quarter, think about the strategies you used or the decisions you made, and how they affected your business performance.
Make a note of the things you could have done differently to get a different outcome. Yes, do this even if you are happy with the way the last quarter went.
You can always get better and improve your business, so try to find areas of your business you can improve or things you can do differently for a better outcome.
As an example, maybe you divided your time between two social media platforms, and one outperformed the other by a lot. Perhaps, spending more time on the platform where you had the most success would have paid even more dividends.
When you think about what you could have done differently, that includes not only making a different decision but also how you executed it.
So, what could (would) you have done differently?
6. WHAT AREAS OF YOUR BUSINESS NEED IMPROVEMENT?
The review process is a great time to identify the areas of your business that need improvement.
What areas of your business are underperforming? What areas of your business are you unhappy with? Did you focus on (or emphasize) a particular area but ended up with sub-par results?
You can use the quarterly business review session to identify or highlight the areas of your business that need improvement, so you can create an action plan.
For example, let’s say you are not getting enough new leads or customers, it’s obvious your marketing plan or strategy needs some work. On the other hand, if you are getting enough new leads but low conversions, then it’s your sales strategy that needs improvement
Carry out an assessment of every area of your business, identify the areas that need improvement (and the specific things you need to improve), then incorporate those improvements into your business.
Improving your business is not a one-and-done thing. So, it’s something you need to do periodically if you want to keep growing.
7. WHAT ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT GOALS NEXT QUARTER?
To wrap up the review process, you need to set some goals and identify the focus areas for the next quarter.
Your quarterly goals should align with your annual goals (as long as they still make sense). Or, you can set some new goals based on your quarterly review and assessment.
When setting your goals, focus on goals that you can achieve in a 90-day period. If possible, choose only one big goal and no more than three focus areas.
You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin or try to do too many things within a short period of time. For the best result, keep a narrow focus and devote most of your time and resources to it.
Your goals should also align with your overall vision for your business. So, don’t set goals that will take you in a completely different direction from your vision or mission.
Lastly, don’t just set goals and stop there. Create an action plan and set your success criteria. If you need help creating a quarterly business plan, check out my free Quarterly Business Plan Cheat Sheet.
Final thoughts on questions for your quarterly business review
A quarterly business review is an opportunity to check the health of your business.
One of the best things about a quarterly review is that you can course correct at any time during the year, instead of waiting until the end of the year. Doing this can be the difference between having a good year or a bad year.
There are lots of things you can do during a review process. However, it’s very important to ask some meaningful questions that will help you to evaluate the health of your business.
Your goal should be to get an accurate picture of how well your business is doing. Hopefully, the questions in this post will help you to do just that.
Just set aside a couple of hours at the end of each quarter, and go through this process.
Your business will thank you!
Do you carry out a quarterly business review? Do you find it helpful?