How to Implement your Plans | Quarterly Planning Series

How to Do Quarterly Planning  as a business owner - Society for Creative Founders

Last week we created a Quarterly Planning Series where we wrote three packed posts with four things to focus on when it comes to your Quarterly Planning. What to maintain and create, what to promote, and what to learn. All of those are the pieces that you want to incorporate into planning.

Today, we want to go through one more step of it all ... how to implement all of those plans, and create them in a way that works well for you.

If you’ve been going with us post by post, you probably have a page filled out with all sorts of things that you want to do this upcoming quarter, but now, you need to look at how in the world you're going to actually make all of this goodness happen.

So today, we're going to go through a simple eight step plan to help you do just that. Ready to begin implementing those things you wrote down on each page? Here we go!

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How to Implement Quarterly Planning - Society for Creative Founders

Step One: Get out a calendar

Get out a calendar (a quarterly one like this one from She Plans may be a tremendous asset for you if you want to break your year down into Quarterly Planning on paper!) and look at the monthly view for the next three months.

Look at your personal projects, personal priorities, vacations, etcetera. It's imperative to make sure you review this first because you want to make sure that your business doesn't overlap (or take away from) personal time.

Meaning, do you want to launch your Holiday Collection when you're on vacation, when you have to cross your fingers and hope you have a strong wifi connection and no technology snafus that may take away from your vacation time?

Or, if you have kids and you know that either the beginning or the end of the school year is your busiest school time of year for your kiddos, you may have to scale back on the amount of business goals that you make, simply to make sure that you can be fully present and have harmony between your business and personal life.

There will be times in your personal life when it’s simply hard do a big launch. For example, if you’re moving, or getting married, or going on maternity leave, or going on a 3 week international vacation with unknown wifi possibilities, etc. etc.

Take these things into consideration when you’re planning things out for your year, so that you can build a business that ebbs and flows and works well with your life, all day every day.

Step Two: Take your business busy season into consideration.

Once you have your personal details in front of you on the calendar, think about the busiest time for your business in the next quarter. You want to make sure that the goals you set for yourself for additional items are attainable within this time, so that you don't become overwhelmed and disappointed with the amount of items you're able to complete.

For example:

  • if you're a product seller and know that November + December is your busiest time of year

  • if you're a wedding stationer and know that January is filled with inquiries and meetings with potential clients

  • if you're a branding designer and know that February-May is filled with design projects for people who want to have a new brand before summer

  • if you participate in a lot of markets and shows during the Fall Season, and you have two to three each month from September to November

You always want to make sure that when you're working on anything, you have sufficient time to focus in on your goals and priorities well. So, there may be a possibility you'll need to cross off a month completely for something new to learn this quarter, because you know that you'll be spending the majority of time promoting and creating items for your business for a particular month.

Now, go back to the page we provided for you and circle ONE thing in each box. These four items are your top priorities for the quarter.

How to Implement Quarterly Goals as a Creative Entrepreneur

Step Three: Work Backwards

Once you have your items outlined and your priorities determined for each month in a quarter, what will you be doing in the future months that you need to prepare for in the present? In this spot, it's entirely helpful to have an annual calendar in front of you so that you can look at the next twelve months as a whole, breaking things down into monthly to-dos in a revolving perspective, that cross over from quarter to quarter.

For example:

  • if you are launching a new collection in September, what do you need to do to create in order to prepare for it in July and August?

  • if you are participating in a Bridal Show in January, what do you need to do to organize for it in November and December?

  • if you are adding a new addition to your business in May, what promotions do you need to set up in April, and who do you need to reach out to in March if you want to have a launch team?

Step Four: Decide where you're going to house everything

The last thing you want to do is start planning goals in a notebook, then move them to a planner, then move them to Trello, then move them to Asana, then move them back to another notebook. Oy. Doesn't that just sound exhausting? That will be so much time wasted moving from one system to the next. Decide on the system you're going to use for the next quarter, and stick to it.

Adjust and refine as you go within that ONE system so that you don't waste your time starting over, over and over again.

At the end of the quarter, if that system didn't work well when you're doing your Quarterly Review, decide then to move your next quarter to a new place. But one quarter at a time (preferably a year or more, if we're being honest), choose where you're going to house everything and keep it there.

How to do Quarterly Planning as a Creative Entrepreneur - Society for Creative Founders

Step Five: Break things down into Monthly Goals

Thinking about the priorities you determined, what items will have a higher focus which month, and do you need to look outside of the scope of the quarter itself, and work back?

For example, when looking at Q4, planning a Collection Launch for a product shop:

Quarter 3 (pre-work):

  • August: reach out to a Photographer to have all of your products photographed, to have all images back by October

  • September: (prior to Q4 beginning) learn everything you want to in order to do a successful launch for your Holiday Collection, which launches in November

Quarter 4:

  • October: create all of the marketing pieces for your launch in November and create all product descriptions + images to your shop

  • November: promote the new collection that you launch in the beginning of the month

  • December: no new goals // maintain your orders received, so that you can have everything completed in time for Christmas

And so on and so forth, so that you know what you are continually working towards from a monthly perspective.

Suggested Blog Post Resource: Setting SMART Goals for your business

Step Six: Break MONTHLY Goals down into WEEKLY Priorities

This is where you're going to take those monthly goals and break them down into weekly to-dos.

For example, expanding upon October above:

  • Week One: write all product descriptions for products to your website

  • Week Two: upload the photos to each product, that you received back from your photographer in September (this may take up to 8 weeks, so make sure to plan accordingly!)

  • Week Three: create the marketing pieces for your launch, using your photos + product descriptions throughout your copy, with images best sized for Instagram, Stories, Facebook, Pinterest, emails, and your website

  • Week Four: create the plan to use those images you've created, and develop your content marketing plan so that it's ready to go come November 1st

Instead of flying your business by the seat of your pants, choose to be the one flying the plane. - Kristin Wilson of the Society for Creative Founders

Step Seven: Break down your WEEKLY priorities into DAILY tasks

To take it even further, you want to make sure you have set time that you can work on a weekly priority each day. So, your week might look like something like this when broken down into a daily format:

Week One: Write all product descriptions for your website

  • Monday: create the titles for your products, taking time to research keywords that people are searching for

  • Tuesday: create product descriptions for products 1-8, creating a template that you can "copy and paste" to maintain consistency, keeping SEO and keywords in mind

  • Wednesday: create product descriptions for products 9-18, repeating the system you did from 1-8

  • Thursday: review your product titles and descriptions for each, going back and reading each one out loud to make sure that they are grammatically correct and you didn't miss any words

  • Friday: Use this day as a catch-up day if needed, if certain things took you longer than others to do this week

The goal with daily task lists is not to move forward to the next task until the task above it is completed.

This way, even if you get "behind", you already have a catch-up day built in, so that if something happens personally or a task takes you longer than you planned, you don't get further and further behind. You've already built in wiggle room to your schedule for the week, so you know you can complete a weekly goal well.

So, now that you have all of these things taken into consideration, you may be thinking, I don't know how to plan out my week to make sure I have time for all of this. If that's the case for you, we have a supplemental Quick Win for you here, all about creating your Ideal Week.

On a personal note, I do this activity literally every single week, since no two weeks are the same. This is a quick-win moment that you can have every week, and fill in the blanks each week for what will work for you.

Learn more about the Ideal Week Quick Win Activity here!

Step Eight: Circle back to your ONE place you chose to house everything, and write it all down.

Planning goals and launches and writing down what you want to learn is great … but it’s in the implementing that we meet our goals, working at them day by day by day. After you’ve brainstormed and jotted notes and set monthly, weekly, and daily priorities, write them all down in ONE place.

Whether you choose to organize everything in Asana or Trello or an annual planner or a quarterly planner or even a collection of entries in a bullet journal, make sure it’s organized in a way that you can literally see your progress as you complete it, so that you don’t spend time thinking “where did I keep that list of things I wrote out??” and you do spend time being productive on a daily basis.

There has been a lot of information included throughout this series, and I honestly could talk about it so much more. If I could give you a few more suggestions, these would be it:

  • Take financial goal planning into consideration when planning out your year. What are you going to promote each quarter to help your business to grow financially each and every year? You don't want to do all of this work and have your business not provide an income. You can't feed your family if everything you offer in your business is free.

  • Do a quarterly review at the beginning of each quarter so that you can look at the past, see where you are currently, and make plans to change or improve upon things for the future months.

  • Give yourself grace. We may make all of these big plans and goals and then suddenly, realize that we planned out way more than we should have for a certain day, week, month, or quarter. If that's the case, you're your own boss, and there is no one telling you you can't adjust your sails and turn another direction, adapting those original goals and plans to be what works for you now and moving forward.

And with that, this officially wraps up our Quarterly Planning Series!

I hope you have absolutely loved this series, and that you now have the confidence you need to develop a quarterly plan and break it down into smaller pieces, in a way that works well for your business and your personal life. You can absolutely do this! Before you know it, you'll be a planning and implementing machine.

Instead of flying your business by the seat of your pants, choose to be the one flying the plane.



Throughout this series, we shared a lot of tips and suggestions all along the way. We would love to hear from you below, what helped you the most? Comment below and let us know!

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