First, let’s tackle some housekeeping.
- 🎈Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m turning 35. I haven’t yet decided if there will be a special daily tomorrow or if it will be a rest day. I’ll most likely be celebrating by hanging out in a forest or wandering around a park.
- ✨The 8 Days of Kaindness — my special, once-a-year celebratory event featuring eight days of gifts, tools, and resources — is returning in February. More on that event as the date approaches.
Today? With January zipping by faster than a greased eel, the month is almost at an end. So today, I want to encourage you to adopt a new monthly/quarterly/regular habit to help you do better in your business.
How to host your own Quarterly Business Review
If you want to level up your business and act as your strategic business consultant, I strongly encourage you to start regularly practicing Quarterly Business Reviews.
“What’s a Quarterly Business Review?” A Quarterly Business Review (or QBR) is a standing, regular meeting by yourself or with your team to discuss how the past quarter went and get in alignment around objectives, outcomes, and opportunities moving forward.
The focus should be on strategy, not tactics. Think big picture. What trends are going well? What initiatives or strategies are underway? Don’t use your QBR to troubleshoot small issues. Focus on the bigger picture of opportunities available to you. (e.g., What are the most impactful options for your business? What is your strategic focus for the coming quarter?)
QBRs work very well as a solo activity, not just an exercise for the company, team, or you and your client.
As an independent consultant, I like QBRs as a tool to help you observe, orient, decide, and act (https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/ooda-loop/) on the most significant opportunities and information in front of you.
When you’re performing a QBR, you ask/discuss the answers to three essential questions around how things went and what you’ll focus on in the coming quarter. I like asking these questions:
- What went well?
- What went badly? (What were the biggest mistakes I made?)
- What will I accomplish in the coming quarter?
When I’m doing a QBR, I like to spend about an hour on this activity. I’ll fill out a doc (e.g., Word, GDoc, Notion) with the questions and then spend ~15-20 minutes answering each question. I’ll type out what comes to mind and then think on the question to see what else comes up.
Once you answer the questions, you’ll want to read through them and decide on:
- The lessons learned from the past quarter (e.g., X went well, so let’s do more of that; Y went poorly, so let’s avoid things like that)
- The opportunities/outcomes you’ll focus on in the coming quarter (e.g., Z is a big opportunity, let’s focus on that).
- Any insights, guidance, or priories to extract and focus on moving forward. Store those insights somewhere you can regularly review them. (This could be as simple as a list of bullets that you check during your regular planning, a document you review daily, or whatever works well for you. But make sure you’re capturing the takeaways from your QBR in a way that you can regularly review them to orient your course of action.)
Q: “Kai, it’s almost February. Shouldn’t I wait until March/April to do a quarterly review?”
A: No, you can get started today/now. Do a QBR at the end of January to identify what went well/poorly in Nov, Dec, and Jan, and what you want to accomplish in the coming quarter (Feb, Mar, Apr).