It’s the start of the new year’s first month — the first month of the first quarter. You’d better be sure that your ecommerce business is ready! That means having concrete, measurable goals in mind for Q1. Quarterly goals are crucial for your business, because taken together, they add up to the annual goals you’ve set.
In fact, Fast Company (the world’s leading progressive business magazine) says that setting 90-day goals is usually more successful as well as easier to achieve, because those goals feel more immediate and attainable. That conveniently aligns with the four-quarter business year.
Off to a Good Start
When it comes to goals for any new year, the first quarter is always particularly significant, because it sets the pace for that year. Q1 lays the foundation on which to base the rest of the year; it also sets the groundwork in place for eventually meeting or adjusting your annual goals and metrics.
Some factors don’t change much from year to year. In general, January is a slow period following the holiday hurly-burly. This is the time you should try to clear out all of your leftover holiday items with steep discounts and markdowns. Christmas sells all year round in ecommerce, but unless Christmas is one of your niches, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to see those products in your store for the next several months. Mark them down, get them sold, and move on to bringing out new stock for the new year!
Now is also the time to take notes on what worked — and what didn’t work — during the 2018 holiday selling season. Did your marketing prove to be effective? Did you have too much in stock, or not enough? How should you adjust your purchase orders for 2019?
This is also the time for a financial review of your ecommerce business overall: everything from 2018’s cash flow and profit and loss statements to projecting year-end sales to getting organized for tax time. Review your income and expenses; analyze your business’ performance in 2018, and decide which areas need tweaking. For example, do you need to adjust what you spent on inventory?
Take a look at last year’s goals as well; did you achieve them, exceed them, or fall short?
Know Your Numbers
The most essential metrics for any ecommerce business owner to keep an eye on are total sales revenue; gross and profit margins; overhead costs; and monthly profits or losses. You should know these numbers and set very specific goals for the new year based on your size and product mix. Maybe you want to grow sales by 5% year over year, or grow revenue by 10%. Review your desired goals and revise them according to the results of your financial analysis and income statements; then prepare a plan and set a budget for achieving them.
Whatever your goals turn out to be for the first quarter of this new year — and for the year itself — make sure you put them in writing as part of your 2019 business plan. You can always adjust your annual goals as the year unfolds, but if you don’t have concrete, measurable goals in place from Q1 on, then your ecommerce business cannot grow and prosper.