Are You Ready?

March 11, 2010

As venture capital investors, we know the drill…it’s coming up on the end of the quarter and the management teams in our portfolio companies start to become very quiet. Very, very quiet…

Startup and expansion stage technology companies are often so heads-down right about now trying to close the current quarter, that they often lose sight of the fact that this is also the time to make sure that their organization is laser-focused on next quarter.

Sounds great in theory, but exactly what am I talking about? As busy as this time of the quarter usually is, it’s also a critical point in the cycle to go through an operational review. This is not meant to be an exhausting strategic planning exercise (although ideas that might impact your strategy could possibly develop from this session), but is meant to be a time to gather your key management team together to:

  1. Measure your expected outcome for this quarter against your budget, forecast and goals. You should have two months of actual financial and business data right about now, use that data to update your outlook for Q1. Are you on track? 
  2. Next, if you’re not on track for the quarter, each functional manager should have a pretty good idea of the actions to take in these remaining few weeks to try to reach their goals, or alternatively mitigate any shortfall.  Now is the time to reprioritize and reallocate resources, if necessary. Every member of the team should know exactly what they need to do in these remaining weeks of the quarter to make Q1 happen!
  3. Next step. Make sure your management team is locked and loaded for Q2. You should already have your financial goals set for Q2, but equally important are the goals for each functional area, as well as your overall organization. It’s also very important that your management team take any learnings from Q1 into consideration as they plan for Q2. Are there any missed goals that are going to impact Q2? Do you know what you’re going to do to mitigate that impact? What about your Q1 successes? What can you take from those learnings to replicate them in Q2? Everyone should know now exactly what they need to do in Minute 1 of Day 1 of Q2, in order to make those Q2 goals happen!
  4. As a side note. Some great ideas may have come up that might be of a more strategic nature. Capture those ideas in a parking lot, assign owners to them, and follow up on those ideas in smaller working groups (probably after you close the quarter, in order to keep focused on the task at hand).
  5. Last step.Document next steps for Q1, document goals for Q2, ensure common understanding and consensus has been reached by every member of the management team. Go out and make those goals happen!

Are you and your management team ready for Q2?