The No Excuses Quarterly Business Review

by Cathy Miller on April 2, 2012


Hello – this is your conscience speaking.

Is that your approach to taking a pulse on your business?

Put away your excuses.

If nothing else, at least think about what happened during the first quarter.

Here is a simple quarterly business review approach.

Money and Operations

There are many suggestions for what you should review.

  • Sales, marketing
  • Clients, prospects, leads
  • Accounts payable, accounts receivable
  • Supplies, inventory, vendors
  • Salaries/compensation, recruiting

The list can be as concise or complex as you want it.

When you think about it, it boils down to three categories – Money In, Money Out, and Operations.

Write down these three measurements.

  1. Your goal – What target did you set? You did set one, right?
  2. Your result – Did you fall short or did you meet or exceed your goal?
  3. Your plan – What’s next? Status quo? Adjust?

If you have not set targets for measurement, you can approach it in one of two ways.

  • Set your targets now
  • Evaluate your first quarter results and set goals from there

Do you feel good about your results so far? If not, plan accordingly.

Money In

This is a simple calculation. What money have you received for your products or services?

  1. What is your sales or income target?
  2. Did you fall short? Meet target? Exceed target?
  3. What are you going to do as a result?

 The last question sets the plan for the next quarter.

  • Do you have pending invoices?
  • Are there billing or collection issues?
  • What do your prospects/leads look like?
  • How can you increase sales?

Money Out

Have you ever noticed that you always know how much money you receive?

Unfortunately, some of us pay less attention to the money going out. It’s like playing the game of not opening a bill. It doesn’t exist if we don’t see it, right?

You could have great sales that mean nothing if you spend more than you receive.

Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing has a simple suggestion if you have no idea what you spend.

  • Track every penny
  • Do it for at least 30 days
  • The results may surprise you

Review your results and set a target.

  1. What is your target for expenses?
  2. Did you spend less? Stay on target? Exceed budget?
  3. What are you going to do as a result?

Consider the following.

  • Is your budget realistic?
  • Are there areas you can cut back on?
  • Do you have higher expenses coming up?


Operations are the activities you or your employees perform to run your business. For example, marketing and customer service are part of your operations.

When I was in management in my corporate days, I tried to impress on my employees that all of operations is involved in sales.

  • Customer service makes a lasting impression
  • Internal training promotes a better product or service
  • Every employee represents the company’s brand

 Efficient operations support better sales.

So, whether you or a company of one or thousands, set goals for operations.

  1. What are your operations goals for each category?
  2. Did you fall short? Meet target? Exceed target?
  3. What are you going to do as a result?

Here are sample questions to ask for your marketing and business communications quarterly review.

If you prefer a more detailed approach to your business communication strategy, review the 10-part series that starts with your vision statement.

Just Do It

A quarterly review is good business.

  • You find what’s working
  • You discover what’s not
  • You adjust for better results

So, why not stop and Just Do It.

Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.

~Don Wilder and Bill Rechin, Co-Creators of “Crock” Syndicated Comic Strip

Do you do a quarterly review?

What do you review?


Helping you Keep it simple, clear & uniquely yours – contact me for help with your business writing needs.


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jake P April 2, 2012 at 7:31 am

Ah, jeez. I’m sure I should do this…I’m sure I *could* do this…but then I’d lose my title of World’s Randomest Freelancer and that would be a downright shame.

*slinking off guiltily*
Jake P recently posted..Job rejection failMy Profile


Cathy April 2, 2012 at 8:06 am

Hey, who am I to mess with success, Jake? 😉


Wade Finnegan April 2, 2012 at 8:08 am

I’m not doing this, but I should. My excuse? “It’s not my full-time job.” I know, lame excuse. Thanks for the reminder, Cathy.


Cathy April 2, 2012 at 8:11 am

That’s a good one, Wade. And actually it’s a good point. The first question should be what do you want from your freelance writing business? Then you know how to set targets – or not. 🙂

Thanks for sharing that, Wade.


John Soares April 2, 2012 at 8:19 am

I do a good job at tracking income, but I’m not so good at tracking outgo. That’s in part because I generally make significantly more than I spend, and I have savings, and I’m a fairly frugal person.

One thing I am doing more is long-term financial planning. The big unknown? Health-care costs.
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Sharon Hurley Hall April 2, 2012 at 8:45 am

Good advice, Cathy. I’ve recently switched to a proper accounts package and I am trying to be rigorous about tracking outgoings. You’re right – the results can be surprising.
Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..My Blogging Adventures 2012My Profile


Cathy April 2, 2012 at 8:49 am

Hi John: I figure since I try to keep up on expenses for tax purposes anyway, it’s not that much of a stretch to track it. I have an accordion folder for receipts by month and I spreadsheet them.

Theoretically, I enter new ones every Friday, but that doesn’t happen all the time. The quarterly review is another way to kick me in the rear so I don’t have such a huge task come tax time.

I have a spreadsheet for my quarterly review, too, with categories for Income, Expenses, Marketing, and Learning.

And I so understand about the health care dilemma. 🙂 Thanks, John, for sharing your thoughts.


Cathy April 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

Hi Sharon: I haven’t gone the accounts packaging yet, but do consider it. For now, my Excel spreadsheet works for me. Thanks, Sharon. Let us know how it goes.


Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. April 2, 2012 at 11:16 am

Cathy- I read the post AND the comments.
Yes, it may not be your full time job- but if you don’t generate profits 3 out of 5 years, it is a very expensive hobby- since your revenue will be taxed, but your business expenses will be negated (under IRS regs). And, if it just a sideline- how do you know if you it’s not costing you money? (I have clients who show me their back of the envelope calculations demonstrating “profits” that miss so many of their expenses, I’m surprised their spouses have not shot them!)
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Kesha Brown April 2, 2012 at 11:20 am

Hey Cathy, I have started doing a quarterly (and annual) review of “money in and money out” along with overall goals, action items, accomplishments, next quarter’s goals, etc. 🙂

Not to mention I do a monthly review of finances as well (personal and business).

This is great info and I’m hoping others do the same as it can only help make a business very successful. It helps to know what was previously done to help plan for the future!

Kesha Brown recently posted..Why Sitting is Killing You! [Infographic]My Profile


Cathy April 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

Excellent point, Roy. So, who knew that a quarterly review could also be life-saving? 🙂


Cathy April 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

Sounds like you really have it together, Kesha. I’m like you and also do a review monthly of the money. It can be very motivating. 🙂

Thanks for sharing your system, Kesha.


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