In Business Planning Made Easy Part I and Part II; Vision Statement and Mission Statement, we provided the definitive answer as to how they differ. In Business Planning Made Easy Part III we introduced the 3rd element in effective business planning, Objectives or Targets. In that article we called upon business owners to stop being hypocritical. If you aren’t going to measure your business’ performance and respond actively to the feedback, then stop coaching your children to their education or athletic performances. Now we move on to Action Plans.
Most recently we introduced how to craft effective Strategies using less than 100-characters to describe each Strategy beginning with a BHAG and then 3 – 4 ways you can move the company towards achieving the BHAGs.
If you missed them catch them here:
- Business Planning Made Easy Part I – Vision Statement
- Business Planning Made Easy Part II – Mission Statement
- Business Planning Made Easy Part III – Objectives
- Business Planning Made Easy Part IV – Strategies
Now we move on to the final Secret #5 of the 5-Secrets to Business Planning that makes Business Planning EASY, FAST, SUSTAINABLE and entirely PRACTICAL….ACTION PLANS.
Action plans are what bring the whole business plan to life. They represent the project work that needs to be completed to achieve the objectives and get started on the introduction of your strategies.
There is no point identifying your Vision Statement, Mission Statement, Objectives or Strategies, if you don’t intend on having Action Plans to implement them. In fact, everything before Action Plans while critically important, is nonetheless, passive. They, in and of themselves, do nothing but to motivate us to achieve more and lay the foundation on the how we’ll do it.
Action Plans are the IMPLEMENTATION of the Business Plan! Without Action Plans nothing happens, nothing changes.
When creating action plans, the most important characteristic is to have a specific outcome matched to a due date by which the outcome is to occur for each piece of project. work.
As such, the format of an Action Plan very simply consist of just 3 things:
Where the Verb can be any of a number of words like Start, Initiate, Develop, Test and Review, Launch or Relaunch and of course the old stand-by, Complete, just to name a few.
A test of a terrific Action Plan is to check; “will this have an impact on the Company’s ability to achieve an Objective this year” or “will this begin to advance the Company down a Strategy towards it’s BHAG?” If the answer is yes you have a quality Action Plan.
I encourage business owners to maintain 2-Rules when crafting their Action Plans:
- Have no more than 3 Action Plans mature in a Quarter (ie. don’t stack all the work into the same 3-month period)
- Have no more than 9 in play at any one time
The simple reason being if you haven’t been engaged in Action Planning at all until you start this plan process, don’t then plan on fixing everything at once. You’ll become overwhelmed and end up getting nothing done and the business plan will cease to be easy, fast, sustainable and entirely practical.
Heed this quote. “Time was invented so that everything doesn’t have to be done at once…it just feels like it” (James Burgess)
Some Action Plans might take more than one Quarter, or even up to a year, to “complete”. In those instances look at breaking a big project down into 2 or 3 smaller Action Plans.
Here is another important point on Action Plans. They rarely just end! So if you think you are done ask yourself first…”what next?” If something comes to mind then write a new Action Plan for the next steps.
For example, if you successfully relaunch a web site would it not be a good idea in about 6-months to do a detailed review of your Google Analytics to ensure the changes you made are getting you what you want? There is a new Action Plan grown out of the completed work.
We then take each Action Plan and break them down into the 2 – 3 mini to-dos so each week we know what we need to focus on to work “ON” our business.
Here is an example of how we write our Action Plans:
Action Plan 1: Re-launch website
Business changing impact; Increase new prospects
Due date: May 31st
Mini to do’s
- Add FREE offer with registration page
- Add video content
- Add new product/ service offer
To close on Action Plans let we suggest that if you typically like to cut corners on any process and are
leaning towards shortening your Business Planning down to just one step instead of the five we have presented, then that one step should be to have Action Plans. You can create a business based on continuous improvement if you focus on just Actions Plans.
Understand, I’m not recommending you cut that corner but if you are prone to doing things your way,
then have at least Action Plans. With project work you can advance the business to new levels of achievement. Some of the project work may not get you to where you want and without a Vision and Mission Statements, Objectives and Strategies may end up being a bit helter skelter. But it can work.
But listen, the 5-Step process we have given you here over this series of articles makes Business Planning EASY, FAST, SUSTAINABLE and entirely PRACTICAL so why not just do the whole thing. It’s an investment of a few hours and no longer days, weeks or even months.
“Get it down and then get it right1”
Coming up next is how we r3ecommend you can sustain business planning indefinitely and never spend more than 90-minutes on resetting your annual Business Plan.
WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?
1.You can find out more about what a business plan is and its importance with the international best-selling book CHAOS; How Business Leaders Can Master the Power of Focus. Get your FREE copy HERE
2. Use our FREE business planning program FOCUS Yourself; A 7 Module Business Plan Program. This is not a business plan template, it is a full business plan that is EASY and FAST, making your plan SUSTAINABLE and entirely PRACTICAL. Start your business plan NOW
3. Not sure why you need a small business plan? REGISTER for a FREE FOCUS Discovery Consultation where you will talk business, your business, with international best-selling author James Burgess.
4. Challenge yourself to FOCUS Your Business In Just 30-Days and learn how to build a business that will THRIVE not just survive with our FREE webinar HERE.