Take action early if you are off plan

By March 7, 2013 One Comment

Brad Feld wrote a post earlier this week titled How is your Q1 going? This is the key paragraph:

If your sales and revenue are not on or ahead of plan, it’s time to take a hard look at what is going on. Q1 is the easiest quarter to make since you just created the annual plan. If you miss Q1, especially in a recurring revenue, services oriented business, or adtech business, there is almost no way you will make it up over Q2 – Q4. Sure – it’s nice to think something magic, special, and happy will happen, but it almost never does.

He then lists out five steps to take to right the ship (six if you count ‘don’t panic…). They can be summarised as cut discretionary spending immediately, do a thorough analysis of why Jan and Feb were missed, and do a new forecast, working hard to get it right this time. If your company is off plan (and many will be) then you should go read the post and follow the prescription in detail.

I suspect that to many people the amount of work suggested here will seem out of kilter with the size of problem – i.e. a small miss this early in the year shouldn’t be regarded as a big deal. Some companies are lucky and get by with that sort of approach, whilst others end up burning too much cash and suffer. Sometimes horribly.

The best companies, however, don’t rely on luck. Instead they take pride in building the best forecast they can and if the plan turns out to be wrong they put in the hard work necessary to get it right. In fact this is one of many examples of where the difference between ‘ok’ or ‘good’ and ‘great’ comes down rigour, discipline and hard work and a strong desire to, as far as possible, control their own destiny.