Creating a Quarterly Planning Calendar
A great New Year’s resolution for your business, if you already aren’t doing so, is to develop a quarterly planning calendar. In this episode of The Bottom Line, EisnerAmper manager Tim Schuster gives you a blueprint for developing this how-to list, including the key action items for each quarter.
Dave Plaskow: Hello and welcome to The Bottom Line. This podcast examines the everyday business and finance issues faced by closely held and private businesses. We hope to provide you with news you can use in what we like to think of as a jargon-free zone. I'm your host, Dave Plaskow, and with us as Tim Schuster, a Manager in EisnerAmper’s Private Business Services Group. Today we'll discuss with Tim what you should have on your quarterly planning calendar. Tim, hello.
Tim Schuster: Dave. Great to see you.
DP: So depending on your company's year-end, let's just call it Q1, Q2 and so on. We don't really have a time for a deep dive on each. You can do that with your business advisor. This is merely meant to round out your quarterly to-do list. Having said that, what should businesses look at in quarter one?
TS: This is where a business starts fresh. As we were discussing the quarterly calendar, I would recommend you review these concepts actually on a monthly basis from an accounting perspective. Q1 is when year-end close would occur for the prior year. This is a good opportunity for your company to complete self-evaluation of the prior year and assess what, if anything, went wrong. It's important to review industry trends. You want to start this now and look at how you're doing versus your competition. I would even suggest if it's appropriate to have continued dialogue with your trusted advisor on issues that may arise. You may want to have preemptive conversations rather than trying to play clean-up later. I would even go as far as putting together a strengths and weakness of your business in this quarter to come up with areas for improvement and also identifying what your business does well. You're only as strong as your weakest link.
DP: Okay, well that gets your company off to a good start. What about quarter 2?
TS:You’ll want to check-in against your budget to see how you're doing against actual results. Not only look at a quarter to date, but also on a monthly basis, which is a consistent theme. This is a great opportunity to see how productive and profitable your business is doing. It's important to see how the ship is sailing, so if you need to make changes, you can do it as quickly as possible. It's important to have as much real information at your disposal, if possible. I would suggest looking into productivity apps. You can also access and look for ways to reduce costs in your company. There's always opportunities to cut some costs or improve a process, and I would still advise speaking to your trusted advisor as they are probably your best help with this.
DP:Okay, Tim. Next quarter - Q3.
TS: You still want to be comparing your budget to actual. This should be a good time to assess and check-in on customer needs. Even though this should be happening throughout the year, it's a good time to do a more formal check-in. Now that you have passed the halfway point in the year, I would recommend speaking to your customers and checking-in on your services and/or your products. An open dialogue with customers is imperative for a successful business because if there are any problems you can correct them, or they might even have a suggestion that you can implement. I start to see companies begin their budget for next year and, honestly, even in some instances for future years at this time.
DP: Finally, the last quarter of the year. How can companies finish the year strong?
TS:You will still be comparing your budget to actual, as you've heard me spew over the past few quarters, to see if your ahead of where you thought you would be at this point. If you are, that's fantastic. Keep setting your standards and expectations high. At this point, the budget for next year and potentially for future years would be wrapped up. This is usually when year-end tax planning comes into play. This is where I would come in, or it could be another accountant and review any potential tax liabilities and opportunities with the recent tax law changes. Honestly, you really need to have this conversation as soon as possible because depending upon your industry, it can have significant impacts on those liabilities.
DP:Okay. Well, Tim, that sounds like a very smart list.
TS:I appreciate that. Thanks.
DP: Now give us one of your patented New Jersey Historical Society fun facts.
TS: Well it's known that New Jersey is the Garden State. Honestly, it's on our license plates. Ironically, it's also the only state in the U.S. where all of our counties are classified as metropolitan areas.
DP:Well, thanks again, Tim, for this valuable information. And thank you for listening to The Bottom Line as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. Visit eisneramper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics. And join us for our next EisnerAmper podcast when we get down to business.
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