While sometimes it is up for debate, it is generally accepted that, eventually, all companies will have a bad quarter. This usually means that goals were not met, especially revenue goals. A bad quarter has the potential to derail a company, but it doesn’t mean that it has to happen. In fact, there is a lot that one can do to recover from missed opportunities and unrealized revenue goals.
We asked 13 members of the Forbes Coaches Council for advice on how to come back from a bad quarter. The answers varied a lot but all centered on learning about and understanding what went wrong and positioning the company for a comeback.
1. Learn To Ride The Waves
Life as a business owner will always be defined by ups and downs, highs and lows. So learning how to ride those waves is critical to your success. Here’s how to cope. (1) Start by coming back to your center and reconnecting with your vision and your why. (2) Notice what did work, as well as what didn’t. (3) Shift your mindset, because what looks like a failure is just part of the learning. It’s all research and development. – Wendy Pitts Reeves, C2C Consulting, PLLC
2. Zoom Out To Assess
When we have a bad day, a bad quarter, or a bad year, it is easy to let the moment consume us or even define us. But, if we can zoom out to look at a longer timeline, we can see greater possibilities for the future, great moments from the past, and we can prevent getting limited or defined by temporary challenges. Zoom out and look at a five-year timeline or a 10-year timeline. – Billy Williams, Archegos
3. Be Nimble
Depending on the situation, it might be important to remain on course, or turn-around initiatives might be in order. Either way, the business owner will benefit from being nimble and open to new ideas and approaches. Sometimes small tweaks are needed. – Barbara OMalley, Exec Advance
4. Ask Yourself Hard Questions
You can’t undo poor performance, nor do you have time to wallow in your mistakes. What you can do is take a critical, objective look at what worked and what didn’t. Identify why and what you will do differently going forward. Get your trusted business advisors (internal or external) together to review your assessment and action plan. Then take action. – Kathleen Woodhouse, Nova Leadership
5. Change Your Vocabulary And Approach
It’s not a “bad” quarter, it’s a “learning” quarter with a gold mine of information if you look for it. Identify the positives and celebrate those then look at the whole picture. Mine for improvements or new insight into the business, competition, market, product and any other business factors. Find a way to connect the lessons to the positives or move the needle to make them stand-alone positives. – Lisa Kaye McDonald, Career Polish, Inc.
6. Ground Yourself
You are more than your business; everyone has “bad quarters” when things don’t go as planned. Ground yourself in all of the times it went right and be honest with yourself about where you can improve your strategies. Did you ditch your marketing? Forget to follow up with clients? Be honest about what needs to change and make the time to start differently next quarter. – Meredith Moore Crosby, Leverette Weekes
7. Re-Establish Business Goals
Evaluate and re-establish your business goals, then organize your energies around achieving them. Be certain your goals are realistic and, given reasonable effort, achievable. Ensure at least 80% of your time is allocated to achieving your goals. Anticipate the obstacles to achieving your goals, then take action to remove them by brainstorming ideas with your team. Celebrate success. – Randy Goruk, The Randall Wade Group, LLC
8. Use The Scientific Method
Identify the problem or question. Create a theory, then test that theory. Gather data, then interpret the theory in light of the data. Repeat. This is the scientific method. Now apply it to your business. What’s happening in your business? What’s your theory on how to address it? Test that and gather data. Look at theory again in light of the data. Tweak the theory slightly (change one thing). Repeat. – Debra Russell, Debra Russell Coaching, LLC
9. Get Comfortable With The Worst Case
A bad quarter can precipitate a downward spiral where leaders can add to their list of courage-stifling and innovation-sucking fears at a time when they should be inspiring others and making up lost ground. In these circumstances, tangibly document your fears, planning responses to the worst-case outcomes. This goes a long way to quelling anxiety and reestablishing poise. – Laura Berger, Berdeo Group
10. Perform An After-Action Review
After every period of a business cycle, an after-action review (AAR) should be performed, whether that period produced successful or unsuccessful results. Performance is always a combined result of controllable and uncontrollable forces. An AAR compels an objective study to delineate those forces so that, if possible, corrective action can be taken. – Steven Maranville, Maranville Enterprises
11. Assemble Your Advisory Board
Bring in your toughest, strongest mentors and advisors. Show them your books, your challenges, and share your quarter‘s failures and successes. Ask them for direct, no-nonsense feedback. Record their answers, take notes and above all, listen to what they think you should change or do differently. You do not need an echo chamber now. Your advisory board needs to know the “ugly” reality and help. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
12. Look At Your Trends
Most businesses have seasonal trends. I work with my clients to analyze what is happening in the life of their target customers during each quarter to determine why sales may be up or down. Understanding these cycles not only helps with marketing and messaging but also with cash flow projections. – LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group
13. Build On What Works
All businesses have cycles. For leaders, the first priority is to diagnose and build on successes while course correcting what didn’t work. In addition to the analysis and course correction, keeping a positive outlook is critical. Conveying the confidence to the organization that you will succeed and that you will continue to refine until finding the winning formula will sustain engagement. – Maureen Metcalf, Metcalf & Associates, Inc
Read more articles on Forbes Coaches Council