It’s the end of another quarter! Where the heck is the time going?! The end of a quarter (or the beginning of a fresh, new one) is a great time to catch up on mundane tasks that you’ve been putting off (bookkeeping, anyone?), check in on your progress towards your goals, and set new goals for the next quarter. In fact, I’ve got a three page blueprint that will guide you through this process right here.
We spend so much time working IN our business. So. much. time. That’s why today I’m convincing you why your business needs a quarterly check-up. It can bring some much needed clarity and be a bit fun for you!
By working “in” your business, I mean you probably spend a whole lotta time doing things like this:
- Creating products
- Packaging orders
- Shipping orders
- Answering emails and convos
- Buying supplies
- Posting on social media
- Posting more on social media
- Surfing on social media (oops)
- Taking photos
- Writing listings
And the list goes on and on. How much time do you spend actually working ON your business? Those are things like:
- Setting goals…and checking in on your progress towards them
- Breaking your goals down into daily or weekly to do’s
- Checking out your Etsy stats or Google Analytics
- Analyzing trends
- Monitoring your list growth or social media follower growth
- Planning out your calendar for the week or month
- Checking out your cash flow and updating your books
- Brainstorming new product ideas, promotions or content
The end of the quarter is a great time to spend just an hour or two working on your business. You know how every once in a while you – personally – need a refresh? Like a spa day? Or just to escape your house of crazy demands to get a mani/pedi to clear your head and regroup (it’s not just me, right?!)?
Consider the end of the quarter your business’ very own spa day. A day (or even just an hour or two!) to step back, recognize your victories, learn from your mistakes, utilize these lessons for the future, assess and analyze your progress, and pivot when necessary. Grab the printable worksheet here to walk you through the check-up process.
Recognize Your Victories
Sometimes when we are full steam ahead with our business, we fail to take a moment to celebrate our wins. This is the time to pause and pat yourself on the back for your business accomplishments, big or small. Did you hit a new revenue goal? Did you make the most sales in one week ever? Did you increase your traffic? Collaborate with someone amazing? Or get a really great customer review? Finish that course you bought last year? Heck, maybe you just finally mastered that new embroidery technique or re-styled your product photos.
Whatever amazing things you accomplished this past quarter – give yourself some credit. Revel in your win. Being a business owner is hard as heck and you deserve this moment!
Learn from Your Mistakes
…But don’t dwell on them. What didn’t work this quarter? What would you like to change? Maybe your early morning routine or late night routine left you feeling scattered. Maybe going into your day without a very specific plan led to less productivity. Maybe you invested in a course or a supplier that didn’t deliver. Or photographing each item as you created them really drained you.
Think about the tasks this month that left you feeling overwhelmed, unsatisfied, or unproductive. Think about the projects or clients you wish you hadn’t taken on. What changes can you make going forward? Between celebrating your wins and recognizing your mistakes, you can learn some useful lessons for moving forward with ease.
Assess and Analyze Your Progress
Now is the time to just do a quick check in on your goals. Hopefully at some point, whether at the beginning of the year or the end of the previous quarter, you’ve set some defined, measurable goals for your business. (If you haven’t, I highly suggest you check out Lisa Jacob’s Your Best Year planner. It’s especially for helping creative biz owners SET and BREAK DOWN goals for the coming year.)
This is a great time to assess your progress towards those goals. Good stats to analyze and record include:
- Gross sales (how much money did you make?)
- Number of sales (and pay attention to any trends or patterns here – what types of items sold the most? what didn’t sell at all?)
- Email subscribers (what is getting you traction here?)
- Social media followers (take a moment to check out the analytics and insights about your followers too!)
- Etsy stats and website stats (how’s your views and visits? where’s the traffic coming from? is it time to tweak keywords?)
Those are all key metrics to track, but you may also have goals not related to these stats, like to write a new blog post once a week or to create a new design every month. How are you progressing towards these goals? What tweaks need to be made?
Pivot When Necessary
The overall purpose of taking a step back to assess all these things is so that you can move forward into the next quarter with a plan to work smarter, not harder. Taking time to see what’s working, what’s not, and whether we are actually moving forward at all allows you to learn and pivot.
I see I spent a bunch of money on Facebook ads this quarter but I don’t see much increased traffic from Facebook – time to try a new tactic. I paid to do a giveaway hosted on someone’s Instagram account and gained 400 new followers – let’s find something like that to do again. I see I made 5 sales every time I remembered to email my list – let’s make more frequent emails a priority for the next quarter. I missed my goal of creating a fall product line in time for September – what kept me from achieving this and how can I avoid it for my winter line?
If we are always humming away working in our business and don’t zoom out to see the bigger picture, we miss these opportunities to pivot and tweak. This means slower growth, wasted energy and lots more frustration.
Define Action Steps for Next Quarter
That leads me to the last quarterly task, which is writing down some goals for the next quarter. Along with defining goals, it’s important to actually break them down into manageable action steps.
If your goals for Q4 are to make $20k in sales, sell at 3 craft shows, and release 5 holiday designs, that’s great. But next you need to break it down so you know what you can do each day to get you one step closer to achieving those goals. How many things do you need to sell to make $20k in three months? How much do you need to make each month or each week to get there? What can you do each day to drive traffic to your shop to make those sales? Day 1 – send email to list, Day 2 – host contest on IG, Day 3 – collaborate with popular influencer, etc.
You can do similar breakdowns for prepping for a craft show or releasing your holiday line. The goal is that you don’t just set random, big goals. It’s that you actually know how to get there. That way you are always working towards something and are much more likely to succeed. Consider the end of the quarter a good time to “draw” your next quarter’s “roadmap” of getting there.
Just Do It.
You don’t have to follow my suggested list of things to do at the end of the quarter, but I do encourage you to do something. Come up with your own biz mini spa day where you take a step back and look at the big picture. Reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and plan out the next quarter. This process gets you out of the daily grind and refocuses your energy. You’re welcome to grab the free quarterly blueprint right here.