The 3Q Push: Be Successful When Small So You Can Grow Big


September is here. It’s time for the Q3 push to finish the year strong.

I hope your August financial statement are closed by now.  If not, focus on getting them done this week by looking at the rear-view mirror and the windshield.  Don’t just “roll the dice” when it comes to your business.

Rearview Mirror 

Look at your monthly historical income statements, each month side by side.  Are your revenue and expenses tracking as planned?  Can you make improvements?  Look at each revenue segment. Can you do better?  Sort your expenses in descending order. Where are the opportunities to do better? Compare to the planned expense amounts and answer some “Why?” questions.


I hope you are also updating your 13-Week Cash Flow weekly.  This practice helps you look forward. Are your planned cash receipts and cash disbursements tracking as planned?  Be realistic here. This is a good place to spot both opportunities and land mines.

With this data in mind, recast your projections and your 13 Week Cash Flow with better data to finish the year strong.

Be Successful when Small so You Can Grow Big

I work with business of all sizes.  Working with smaller companies that are growing, I tell owners they need to be successful when they are small so they can grow big. That is a great statement that encourages small businesses as well as inspires larger companies.

It’s also a potentially scary statement for the small businesses that have big ideas (or $50mm in start-up funding.) I see startups that have been seeking capital for years and who don’t have any consistent revenue. They think, “We need to get to ‘x’ before we are going to be successful.”  Guess what? Those guys generally fail. According to SBA, 50% of small business will fail in the first year; so the five-year survival rate is low.

Businesses fail because:

  • They can’t pay their bills.
  • They don’t have enough customers.
  • Customers are not buying what they are selling.
  • They can’t attract paying customers.
  • They can’t find great employees.
  • They don’t have sufficient capital resources.
  • The business systems aren’t working effectively.
  • And other things.

Many small businesses I see today are barely keeping their head above water.  The ship has holes in it, and the water level is constantly rising.  We need to focus on the basics such as sales growth, customer profitability, and new customers, establishing policies, procedures, and systems that are sustainable, thorough and efficient. One of those procedures needs to be the steps I’ve already outlined above!

Take time today to set your next quarter goals and targets now to finish the year strong.

Post Script on the Triathlon

Quick update on the Triathlon I did in August.  At the end of the day, I glad I did the race and I am extremely happy with my performance in the event even though I didn’t hit my goal time.  I had a horrible swim. As the race got started, the high south wind had kicked up whitecaps on the lake. Although I’d been swimming since February relatively consistently up to 3-4 times per week, I really laid off swimming in the summer.

I was organized. My equipment was correctly set up in the transition area, I had a solid running and swim warm-up, and I was pretty calm.  After a great start and about 3/4 into the first of two legs on the swim, I got a mouth full of water.  From that point on, I had trouble keeping my head in the water.  I would count my strokes, focus on my form, but after a couple of strokes, I would panic.  I’ve had this happen before, but I thought my pool training would be enough.  It wasn’t.  My swim took 25 minutes.  Horrible.  The other two events went pretty well and my transition times were solid.

At the end of the day, I was happy I did it. But I missed my goal time due to the swim.  I was feeling very disappointed in my overall performance, but then it occurred to me during the run that expectation and reality meet at some point.  We shouldn’t feel disappointment.  We should accept reality, and feel grateful and content.  The happiest people ‘they say’ are grateful for where they are.

The initial thought is to reduce expectation, but is that the point? Should my goal then be just to do the triathlon with no goal time?  “A finish is a win” attitude? Not for me. I need to get my butt out there and do some open water swimming.  Get stronger and better.  That’s the point of stretch goals.  Stretch goals make us continually up our game.