Pumpkin Spice and Panic in the Air

The smell of fall is in the air. The leaves are turning. The weather is changing. And Q4 panic has begun.

This is when companies REALLY start to realize that they’re not going to make their numbers for the year. They slash costs in the near term, often to the detriment of long-term success. They start cutting bonuses, and staff. Then overworked staff with no bonuses quit and companies are left with an even bigger hole. And it becomes a vicious cycle. 

The best way to break the cycle is not to start it. Easier said than done? Not really. Stop making unattainable goals for the year. Make your goals lofty but attainable. Go for slower growth.

“We need to see hockey-stick growth,” says everyone all the time. To which I say, “There’s something to be said for slow and steady wins the race.” 

So many layoffs and cutbacks happen in Q4, because people are trying to hit some goal they set last year. I encourage people to reassess what they’re aiming for — and more importantly, WHY. Say you set your target for 50% growth, and you’re panicking because you’re only going to hit 35%. Would that really be so bad? From where I sit, 35% growth can look pretty good, if there are legit reasons behind it.

When a client says, “I have to hit 50%, because that’s what I said I was going to do. And if I don’t, this will be the third year in a row that I’m not going to hit it”. From where I sit, not hitting 50% isn’t the problem, setting unrealistic targets is. 

If you put in the time and effort to set yourself up for success with attainable goals, you won’t miss every time. No one has a crystal ball but it’s not rocket science. And bonus, hitting and maybe even exceeding goals can have an incredible effect on employee morale. Win-Win.

At the beginning of October, re-examine why you’re panicked. You probably knew you weren’t going to hit your numbers back in June or July. No, really. I can almost guarantee it crossed your mind earlier. Maybe you could have done something sooner to avoid landing here again (check out “Your Budget is not the Boss of You” for how and why and when to veer from your roadmap). 

But now you’re here. At the edge of the cliff. What would be so detrimental about not hitting that exact number? Listen, I understand that investors may be disappointed, and I know how difficult delivering that news can be, but I can assure you that flagging it earlier in the year is always better. Honest and good financial stewardship will keep you from having to make rash decisions, like the eternal hiring and firing cycle that generally happens with a lot of companies in Q4. 

Let’s set you up with attainable goals for 2024 and next year’s Q4 panic. Call me. We’ll talk.

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