The first quarter of the fiscal calendar is always loaded with anticipation, aspirations, and plenty of optimism to go around.
From the executive boardroom to the customer-facing teams on the front lines, everyone is fired up to achieve great things, and inspiration is in the air.
But aside from a positive mindset and go-getter attitude, what can company leaders do on a practical level to jumpstart Q1 results in the new year? 2022 has so much potential in store, and now is the time to put an actionable game plan in place.
We sat down with entrepreneurs across a wide range of business sectors to see what they have in store for this upcoming Q1, and they were eager to share some valuable insights that can benefit us all. Take notes, because this is going to be the best quarter ever!
Set Ambitious Targets
Energy and enthusiasm are key components to a strong start in the new year, but all that fuel won’t amount to much unless there are ambitious and attainable targets set forth from the top.
“Sales targets are what we often think of when mapping out goals for a first quarter, but we need to dive deeper and set objectives for every part of the business to really move the dial,” said Maegan Griffin, Founder, CEO, and Nurse Practitioner at Skin Pharm. “Everyone needs something to strive for, from the customer support team to the marketing department and even the financial/admin staff. Setting targets is the best way to keep everyone focused and accountable from square one.”
Examples of targets could be customer retention, upselling strategies, minimizing waste, reducing human error, or just improving transparency and communication.
“If you can quantify some aspect of your business and make it part of your Q1 plan, don’t miss that opportunity,” said Ari Sherman, Co-Founder of evo hemp. “If feedback is an issue, facilitate more channels for that information to flow. If you’re missing trends on social media, make sure your marketers are upping the volume. If customer retention is lagging, launch campaigns to win back their trust and build stronger connections. Without lofty targets, these problems will continue to go unaddressed.”
Too many high-reaching targets can have the opposite of the intended effect, however, so it’s important to not go over the top with these goals.
“You never want to discourage your teams from trying their best or cause them to be overwhelmed with work right at the start of the year,” said Tirzah Shirai, CEO of Blink Bar. “Rather than setting a dozen different targets at once, space them out in a reasonable way and keep them front and center throughout the quarter. This minimizes distractions and keeps morale going strong.”
Reinforce a Strong Company Culture
With tangible targets in place, the next area of focus should be on company culture. It’s not so easy to quantify culture, so results depend more on setting strong examples of conduct and communication for others to follow.
“Everyone feels a bit exhausted when Q4 concludes, so this is a good time to get attuned to the company culture and where your staff members are at mentally,” said Christopher Ager, Co-Founder of HomeBreeze. “I recommend checking in with departments one by one and gathering feedback from individuals. Get a read on how teams are functioning and where they may need more support. This is the best practice policy, and it ensures everyone’s on the same page as they take on the year ahead.”
The start of the year is also prime time for recruiting, so companies may want to expand their operations by adding new team members to the roster.
“This is a common time for hiring and rethinking roles within the company ranks, so make sure to leave some time for these managerial demands in Q1,” said Benjamin Meskin, President of Cabrella. “Connect with employees and talk about the future they envision, or seek out new talent to support existing staff members. An infusion of new personality and perspective can be very beneficial to spark some inspiration at this time of year.”
Anything that can be done to enhance company culture and improve the daily working experience at the company – it’s worth prioritizing when Q1 kicks off.
Creative Marketing Campaigns
January 1st is a fresh start for everyone, especially the creative cohort within a company. Marketers will want to capitalize on these creative opportunities and try something that may be considered “outside the box”.
“The first quarter is crucial for market research, developing buyer personas, and mapping out content calendars for the entire year ahead,” said Adam Shlomi, Founder of SoFlo Tutors. “It might seem like a lot of legwork for marketers, but you can’t forget to encourage creativity as well. It’s a chance to look at the new year with a fresh point of view and brainstorm possibilities that may not have been practical in the year prior.”
Q1 is often when big-picture campaign ideas are formed, and this involves everything from content creation to multi-channel execution.
“Use this time to float out ideas for content and discuss the different avenues you’ll use to deliver those assets,” said Amaury Kosman, CEO of Circular. “Let your creative team shine in this first quarter, because they will be eager to share their visions for new campaigns. You have some breathing room and space to work with, so allow for the brainstorming process to play out. You’ll end up with valuable strategies that will power your entire year.”
Double Down on Customer Engagement
After the mad rush of the holiday season, most customers are a bit burnt out by the idea of shopping and doing business in general.
That’s why engagement matters more than ever, and this should be a top priority for any company.
“Email open rates are lower at this time of year, people don’t respond to promos, and they’re looking to cut back on spending,” said Joel Jackson, Founder of LifeForce. “Instead of doing nothing, use this as a chance to connect with people on a human level and provide some valuable content, whether educational or entertaining. Just stay on their radar, rather than pushing for more sales. Eventually, they’ll come around and want to spend it because you’ve built trust and were not pushy.”
Many businesses also take this time of year to address customer and client relationships that may have been neglected during the busy end-of-year cycle.
“My Q1 resolution is increasing the value we offer to smaller clients and providing more budget-focused offerings,” said David Deaton, Founder and CEO of Deaton Group. “After focusing on large-scale deals in 2021, we finally have the opportunity to circle back to smaller clients and give them the help they need. As an entrepreneur, this is very important for me because how we collaborate and partner and help others looking to build their way is key to being successful.”
With so much business taking place in the previous quarter, Q1 is an ideal moment to ramp up customer support that will surely be in high demand.
“From retail to real estate, customer support is pivotal in the first fiscal quarter of the year,” said Tim Harris, CEO at Harris Real Estate University. “Customers have spent their money, received their products, and are looking to follow up, for better or worse. Your business must be prepared to field calls, respond to emails, and set a high bar for customer support that will determine your results for the rest of the year. Customers don’t forget how they were treated, so use this to your advantage by making a fantastic impression in customer support channels.”
Take a Risk – and Reap the Rewards
While some execs may feel the need to play it safe in Q1, the next generation of great entrepreneurs know that there is a major opportunity for risk and reward.
“With the chaos and mayhem of the festive season behind us and last year rapidly becoming a distant memory, the new year is the perfect time to unleash our creative spirits and let our innovative ideas, passion and inspiration run wild,” said Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead, Contributing Writer at Small Business Trends. “Whether you are looking to start an innovative new business in the new year or are wanting to inject some additional creativity and innovation into your existing business, the following new year motivational quotes from inspiring individuals may help you in your quest to rouse creativity, passion, and innovation in 2022.”
For brands that have been stuck in the same cycle for years, what better time to take a risk and shake things up for huge potential results?
“Don’t shy away from doing something new in Q1, because everyone expects the new year to be bigger and better in some way,” said Heather Pulier, CEO of Outset Financial. “Launch the bold campaign, introduce the new product, form a partnership that puts your company at the forefront on social media. These are small risks that can pay off in big ways.”
There’s nothing quite like that Q1 energy in the air – don’t miss the chance to get ahead of the pack! These tips will give you the fuel to make this a transformative year for your business.