It may sound bold to say the right Action Plans can transform your business, but it’s true. Business owners often have so much work to do, and it can be challenging to separate the tactical day to day to work from the strategic business-building work. Unfortunately, when you don’t place enough focus on the long-term work, your business struggles to grow as you’re not putting the pieces in place to position for growth. As you start thinking about the work of building your business for long term success, there are a few things to focus on. First, how do you determine the work to be done and in what order of priority? Second, how do you lay out the plan for the project in a way that keeps it relevant and provides the necessary focus to ensure completion? And, third, how do you keep these critical business-building projects in front of you every month?
Setting priorities to transform your business
At Clear Path Coaching and Consulting, we recommend that our clients pursue no more than nine major business-building projects per year spread out across the year. Five to seven large projects per year are a better target for many businesses. So, how do you determine what those projects are? It starts with a Business Plan That Works in which you identify the Vision for your business, the key Objectives you are working to achieve, and the Strategies you will pursue to grow your business. When you do that, you start to see the gaps between what you need to complete your Objectives and execute your Strategies. The work to fill those gaps becomes your Action Plans. You can derive every Action Plan you create for your business from the rest of your business plan. And, as you identify those Action Plans, you can prioritize them based on the most significant return to your Objectives or your critical Strategies. A fully aligned business plan which we coach our clients to build quickly provides clarity on prioritization and investment. You will waste less money and grow faster with this methodology.
What makes up an Action Plan?
As we coach our clients on building their Action Plans, we encourage them to begin by being as clear and specific as possible on what the project is. What are you making, how are you building it, and who will be responsible? Once you identify the Action Plan, you begin the process of breaking down that plan in a few different ways. First, what is the Return on Investment of this Action plan? Make sure you have that identified. Next, write down why it is essential to the business. It might seem obvious, but the act reinforces the idea of why you’re doing this every time you look at your plan document. The last step is to create a series of milestones for the action plan. The easiest way to do that is to envision your action plan completed. From that Vision, work your way backward through time to identify which critical tasks you completed by which date that allowed you to finish on time. Document each one of those events as a milestone. These milestones become your guide for the plan.
How do you stay on top of all your Action Plans?
Building your Action Plan is only the first step and, in some ways, the easiest one. Now you have to do the work, and that can be your biggest challenge. Business owners have many daily tasks and urgencies pulling on them. And dealing with those takes time and energy. They make it easy to push the longer-term work off to the next day. You can’t lose track of these critical business-building projects, however. They deserve your time and attention each day. We recommend our clients to a monthly business review in which they cover the status of their Action Plans by creating a progress report. This report asks four questions.
- Is the Action Plan on track?
- Is the Action Plan on budget?
- Have key milestones been hit?
- Where do I need help?
The progress report and the answers to these questions provide the business owner with all they need to keep on track with their Action Plans. And, before you know it, you will have completed the Action Plan and are ready to take on the next one.
Getting Action Plans right can transform your business for the better. Setting Action Plans in line with your Vision, Objectives, and Strategies ensure that the work you are doing is the correct work. And it prioritizes your work based on the best possible ROI for your business. Finally, monthly check-ins on your Action Plan ensures you never lose track of those items that will take your business to the next level.
If you’d like to get better at getting Action Plans in place for your business, set up a 15-minute consultation with us, and we will see how we can best help!