When it comes to quarters, Q4 can come with a lot of pressure. It starts on the first day in October, and it includes some very important dates like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.
Whether you need to do better than ever to meet annual targets or you simply want to keep improving on your previous quarter’s performance, you need to approach things in the right way. Keep reading for tips on preparing for a successful Q4.
Preparing for a Successful Fourth Quarter
Every quarter is important in business, but a lot of emphasis often gets placed on meeting annual targets. For this reason, Q4 is often seen as the home straight where you can hit those targets and end the year on a high. Here are some tips to make that happen.
Review Your Annual Targets
Most businesses set goals for the year, and these need to be reviewed to establish what you need to achieve for a successful Q4. Look over the goals you established at the start of the year and evaluate your progress. This is the time to assess what needs to be done to achieve any outstanding foals and identify areas where there needs to be improvement.
Set Goals for the New Quarter
With a good evaluation of your progress towards annual goals, you are ready to lay out what needs to be done in Q4. You can write quarterly goals that will get you to where you need to be at the end of the year, which hopefully involves achieving those annual goals.
Targets based around numbers are usually fairly easy to prepare. More challenging ones include goals that relate to things like:
- Launching a new service.
- Rolling out a rebrand.
- Getting featured in the media.
For these types of things, your quarterly goals will probably be similar to the annual ones, but you can strategize about how to achieve them.
Plan Rewards for Achieving Your Targets
Knowing how you will reward yourself if you achieve your targets can be a great motivator for both you and your team. Do this whilst establishing your quarterly goals to set your business up for success. There’s nothing quite like an added incentive to make people feel excited about hitting the targets.
Identify What Customers Want/Need from You
Market research, surveys, interviews and focus groups are very helpful for understanding your customers better. Now is a good time to do this, so that you can better identify your target market and establish how your products/services can help them.
This will be very helpful in moving towards the next tip. Whether it tells you that you need new products or services or to revamp your marketing strategy, it will move you towards formulating a plan. This may require a recalibration of your mindset for you to succeed in Q4.
Create a Detailed Plan
You know what your targets are, and you know how you will reward yourself and your team for hitting them. At this point, you are ready to formulate a plan. The work you have done in evaluating your progress towards annual goals will be instrumental in strategizing. If you have been making good progress, you will know that what you have been doing is working. If not, you need to rethink things for this planning process.
Falling behind on goals usually happens for one of two reasons:
- Your actions have not been getting the desired results.
- You haven’t been taking the necessary actions.
Be honest about the cause in your situation. If you fall into the first category, you need to start shaking things up a bit. Write down the actions that could help you achieve that goal and identify the things you can implement quickly to formulate a week-by-week plan.
Try to include as much detail as possible in your plan, including a clear identification or KPIs. Focus on making progress through the quarter and remembering to revisit the strategy as time goes on.
Empower Your Employees
Give your employees the tools and authorities they need to be assertive and take action. They will need clear instructions to be able to understand what is expected of them. You can then put your faith in them to do their jobs and offer support when it is needed.
Empowering employees inspires confidence and makes every individual feel valued as part of the company’s success. It will also encourage them to take ownership of their work and take responsibility for the results – good or bad.
Put Some External Accountability in Place
Just as rewards are a good motivator, accountability can be important in keeping people focused. Internal accountability is great, and some people are very good at holding themselves accountable. But external accountability is the most effective method of making this work.
There are numerous sources of this kind of accountability. It could come from a partner, a membership group, a consultant or a business coach. Look for options to make this happen – it’s not about punishment; it’s about understanding areas where people and teams can make improvements.
Show Empathy as a Leader
Part of leadership is empathising with your team when they have needs and concerns. This can be challenging, particularly if the pressure is on in Q4, but it’s important if you want everyone to feel focused, motivated and productive. Here are some tips:
- Listen to individuals and try to put yourself in their position.
- Be open in communication, letting your team know your thoughts frequently.
- Be flexible, as different people have different comfort levels.
- Offer support where possible.
- Check in with everyone regularly.
No matter your industry, Q4 is an important time. Put the effort in to make the most of this quarter and you set yourself up for more success in the coming year. The suggestions in this article are a good guide for business leaders, but no-one understands your organisation better than you. Employ the strategies in ways that work for you to give yourself the best chances of success in this all-important quarter.
Have a great Q4 for everyone!