The Essential Q3 Planning Checklist for Busy Business Leaders

This checklist for a successful Q3 can help you optimize your organization’s growth and improve engagement.

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With Q1 (and now almost Q2) behind us, the goals of the first 2 quarters — ranging from finalizing budgets and implementing plans — have either been met or have yet to bear fruit. The bright-eyed enthusiasm from the New Year has been replaced by the desire to move forward and grow the business.

To start the quarter off right and reduce the risk of deviating from your yearly objectives, it’s important to take a breather and look at your 3rd quarter plan. Reviewing your results from Q1 and Q2, your operating model performance, potential problems, and spontaneous opportunities from earlier quarters can all help drive focus in your organization.

But first, let’s consider some Q2 trends.

By 2025, online sales are likely to increase by as much as 24%.

With rising credit rates and inflation, it seems likely that customers will be more cautious when spending for the next few years. The duel pressures of a credit crunch and less consumer spending could translate into less revenue and access to credit in the long term. To avoid the risk of reduced cash flow, businesses should revaluate their credit sources and needs, as well as consider their pricing models and product lines.

There are also many issues that continue to affect overseas supply chains besides inflation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. If it’s possible to go local, now is a good time to consider it. Make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck with your suppliers.

Finally, if you haven’t gone online yet or aren’t maximizing your customers’ ability to obtain goods or services from you online, this could be negatively impacting your business. By 2025, online sales are likely to increase by as much as 24%, and it might be time to see where you can go online if you haven’t already.

With these in mind, you’re sure to stay ahead of the game — not just for the second quarter but also for the years to come.

Finding the time for Q3 planning

The idea of sitting down and analyzing your Q1 and Q2 may seem unnecessary. After all, you may have already touched on the gains and losses in another meeting. Maybe the quarterly revenue speaks for itself. However, finding time to review your successes and challenges can help you prepare for a solid 3rd quarter. And the review doesn’t have to take a long time — a few hours should do for the entire process. It may even take less time if you are using automation or if you outsource the research to another employee or coworker.

Ideally, it should take 30 minutes to an hour to gather all the information. You’ll want to ask:

  • What were your revenue goals and did the organization achieve them?
  • What were the operational goals?
  • How did your team perform?
  • How did your team feel about the quarter?
  • Did you have unexpected opportunities, and if so, could you leverage them? If not, why?
  • Did you have unexpected challenges? How did you resolve them?
  • Are certain strategies not working as you expected?
  • How well could the organization pivot in the face of real or potential problems?
  • What worked and can you apply those same principles to other challenges?

Once you’ve gathered these facts, you may choose to have a brief meeting either with management or with your staff. This meeting only has to last 15-20 minutes, max. If you want to bypass a meeting, create a memo and ask everyone to leave their thoughts.

The Q3 checklist for business leaders

Now that we’re ready to examine whether or not the goals set at the end of last year and early this year still make sense going into this year’s Q3, let’s take a look at the things successful business leaders should take with them into that important meeting.

Consider the kind of professional service automation technology your business is currently implementing or would like to start using

You want the best out there for your workforce, but not all tools are a one-size-fits-all solution. The wrong product can affect the efficiency of your employees and end up getting in the way of success instead of ensuring it. Analyze your tech along with your progress report for Q1 and Q2. Whatever tools you have should be part of the solution and help maximize your employees’ work output.

Not sure what kinds of automation tools to look into? Check out these 5 must-have automation tools.

Check your equipment

You need to make sure that whatever tools you have are truly meeting the requirements necessary for success. How often are you using what you have at your disposal? Did something break that you need or is it getting worn down? Would an upgrade really make a difference, or does it just look shiny and tempting?

It can be tempting to overbuy things you don’t truly need; if your team doesn’t actually need it, that money and time spent on new equipment can go elsewhere.

Make sure your plans for your goals are truly realistic — and organize each plan for each goal individually

It can be tempting to categorize similar goals together or give one plan more detail than another. However, the less specific the plan is, the more likely that changes can be implemented. Each goal needs its own plan, and these plans need to be broken down and laid out clearly. Without the right care and time given to examining each step, the chances of them being executed well decreases.

Each goal needs its own plan, and these plans need to be broken down and laid out clearly. Without the right care and time given to examining each step, the chances of them being executed well decreases.

Take a good look at your staff and their productivity

In difficult economic times, it can be tempting to think you need to hire or downsize, but it may instead be that your workers aren’t truly in roles that suit them, or in teams that can maximize their talents. Perhaps someone is better suited in another position, or they would flourish with a different team or even a different project. By playing to your employees’ individual strengths you can bring out their true potential. With the right combination of skills, a team with diverse strengths can maximize output even more than before.

Reassess your goals

Once you’ve gone through the above, it’s time to take another good look at your goals from Q1 or even Q4 at the end of last year. If you didn’t meet your goals in Q1, now is a great time to sit down and try to figure out what didn’t go to plan. How realistic are these goals now that you have a better idea of your situation overall? Can these goals be broken down into smaller goals or does the approach need to be entirely rewritten?

When reviewing your goals that have been met or missed from Q1 or Q2, it’s important to keep the above in mind and be willing to adjust. If you find that you’re still struggling with how to make the next move, take a look at how to plan your next business quarter.

Simple tools to streamline operations

For business owners and HR managers, it can feel like work never ends, and you need to keep track of a hundred tasks at a time. Checklists make the implementation of incredibly complex tasks simple, and you don’t even have to remember all the different details. To stay on the ball, check out our in-depth checklists, formulas, and strategies for HR:

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