The Business of Last Quarter

After watching and assisting businesses through October, November and December for over forty years, I have come to realize that many business leaders are very ineffective at managing through the last quarter of the year. Here are a few of the comments I consistently hear during the last part of September or first part of October:

“Well, last quarter is usually slow, so just take it easy, and we’ll catch up in January.”

“Don’t worry about last quarter; it’s always slow, maybe a good time to take some time off.”

“It’s no big deal, we always make it through somehow!”

If you have heard any of these or similar comments, remember that these statements are being made every year in every industry, and it is simply not true!

Last quarter is not slow or bad for business, it is just DIFFERENT! So, if you want to approach last quarter differently this year, rather than buying into the same old worn-out jargon, here are a few suggestions that I have found to work consistently.

Number One: Have a Plan! Since last quarter is different, we need to treat each of these three months differently. First, identify exactly what is different. The big difference related to last quarter is there are three major, universal holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. Each of these holidays often involves up to 1 – 3 days, plus travel, shopping and visiting guests. All these activities can add up to approximately four weeks of last quarter. That should leave about eight weeks of work time to accomplish the goals that you have set for those three months. So, you have eight weeks of work time available to accomplish twelve weeks of work; do not be too quick to say impossible! I have seen it work consistently for over 40 years, and the key is to make sure that you have a comprehensive plan.

Number Two: Your plan should factor in that you have four weeks to work in October. You need to have a detailed plan for each work day in October. It is good to double up on your work efforts for two of those four weeks in October. Return to your normal work schedule mid-October. Another way to manage October is to double your work efforts for the entire month of October. This can compensate for the distractions of the holidays during November and December.

Number Three: Set specific work goals for the first two weeks of both November and December. Make sure you stick to your commitments to these goals. I have found that many people allow the distractions of the last two weeks of both November and December to prohibit them from following through with a good work effort during the first two weeks of November and December.

This is a fourth quarter plan of action I have used for most of my professional life. Trust me; it works much better than the old worn-out plan to “forget last quarter; it’s bad for business.” Do not believe it! It is simply not true if you have a plan.

If you feel that we can possibly assist you with last quarter planning, give us a call. We would be happy to speak with you about how we can help you achieve your goals and finish strong for 2022!

Until next time,

David Byrd