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Eight Steps to Planning a First Quarter Launch

Graphic image with photo of Sam Vander Wielen, attorney-turned-entrepreneur. This image includes the following text related to the blog article: Eight Steps to Planning a Q1 Launch. The photo of Sam shows her standing indoors and holding up two blue pom-poms. She has shoulder length brown hair, she’s wearing a white short sleeve top and is smiling.

Eight Steps to Planning a First Quarter Launch

… so you start the year off with a bang

Now that it’s a new year, it’s time to start making plans for your business for the year. If you’re trying to figure out how to plan a Q1 launch, identify the best month to launch a product, create business goals, and more, you’ll need to carve out time to create a roadmap for your business.

No matter if you’re a seasoned pro at planning or are used to just winging it, making time to intentionally map out the year for your business is critical for achieving your business goals. To make this process productive, efficient, and even (gasp!) fun, follow my steps below for developing a plan that can be easily executed – and set your business up for a successful year.

Step-by-Step Annual Planning Process 

My annual planning process is all about coming up with the plan and then working backwards to come up with all the tasks that must be done – and in what order – for that plan to come to fruition.

Follow the steps below to create a plan you’ll be excited about and confident in.

Plan Out the Year by Quarter

When planning the next year, I find it best not to plan the entire year in detail. Instead, plan out Q1 in a lot of detail, Q2 in a bit less detail, and then decrease the level of detail for the remaining two quarters.

Why not create detailed plans for the entire year? A year is a long time to make stringent plans for and, most likely, you’ll need to adjust as you go. Instead of wasting time and energy upfront on things that are likely to go in a different direction later in the year, spend your time really hammering out quarter one and parts of quarter two. In the beginning of the year, you only need to have a rough idea as to where things are headed for the second half of the year. Then you can use the data from how the first part of the year went to see how you want to respond later in the year.

Reflect on the Prior Year

After mentally focusing on quarter one and a bit of quarter 2, take some time to reflect on the prior year to see what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, and what you want more of.

When reflecting back on 2022, list out the following:

  1. Things you’ve accomplished this year
  2. Things you’ve let go of this year
  3. Things you added and how it felt
  4. Things you took away and how it felt
  5. What you didn’t get to but wish you did
  6. People who were crucial to your success
  7. Any other reflections you wish to add

Future Casting

After looking back, it’s time to look ahead and think about how you want to show up in your business this coming year. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What’s the impact I want to make?
  2. How do I want to feel in my business?
  3. What do I want my days to look like?
  4. What do you want more of? Less of?

Your answers to these questions will be important when it comes deciding which goals and projects you want to work on in the new year. For example, if you said you want to spend less time on social media, avoid taking on projects that require constant social media presence.  

Plan Out Major Events and Projects

Figure out what the main events for the year will be and then identify the best time to launch courses, products, promos, sales, etc. List everything out, as these are the events you’ll be plugging into your calendar. You’ll need to spread them out across the year and reverse engineer them to make sure to allot the proper amount of time to implement the steps leading up to them.

Be sure not to plan too many events into any given quarter or to stack events too close together. It’s important to have space in between projects to give yourself and your team enough lead time to promote them properly, nurture your audience, and bring in new leads in between those different projects.

Personally, I try to stick around one, maybe two, major events per quarter. However, if they’re going to be live, I tend to focus on one event per quarter and work behind the scenes on something else, like updating a current project or coming up with a new product to launch in the following quarter. So, if you’re planning a January or February launch for a course, you’d want to hold off on other Q1 promos and fold them into other quarters.

Work Backwards

After selecting your main projects for the year and spreading them out over all four quarters, you’ll work backwards to map out what needs to be done and when in order to complete each project. Map out Q1 in detail, with week-by-week plans. The projects for the other quarters can be more estimates and then updated with specific details out when it gets closer to each quarter.

For instance, if you’re planning a Q1 launch of your course on February 1, you’ll work backwards from that date and list out all the components that lead up to the launch and assign dates each needs to be done by. Input every task into your calendar and assign tasks to team members accordingly, if applicable. 

Quarterly Planning by Month

After planning out the quarters, break each quarter down further by month. So, in quarter one, you might be focusing behind the scenes, all the things you need to do for the course launch. But in your day-to-day work, you might be working on a new product that’s coming out in quarter two.    

Assess if Your Plans Support Your Goals

It’s time to go back and see if the way you’re planning out your year supports your goals. For example, if you want to be on podcasts, you must focus on PR outreach for part of the year. This step is important for making sure you’re not just creating goals, but making sure the plans you’re putting in place actually supports them.

Carve Out Time to Implement

Now for the really difficult part: making sure to carve out time to actually do all of this! My best recommendation is to set aside a half-day in early January to do all this reflecting and planning. Once you have the day selected, pick a few hours in the morning or afternoon and block out your calendar. Silence all notifications, close down email and social media and just focus on creating your plan for the new year.

It’s so important to look at where you’ve been, what’s worked in the past, and what you want to feel and act like – and then make sure it’s all lining up with the plan you’re making for moving forward. The planning process I’ve outlined here walks you through all of this, getting you to start the year off with a bang and putting you on the path to a successful year for your business. For more examples and details on this planning process – and to download a free business planner guide – listen to my podcast episode on business planning.

If one of your goals for the new year is to make sure your business has all the right legal foundations, watch my free legal workshop, “5 Steps to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business”. You can also purchase the Ultimate Bundle for essential legal templates and training videos you need to legally protect your business.  

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