Businesses review their financial performance at different times of the year: monthly, quarterly, and annually. These reviews typically focus solely on the numbers. Though the financial performance is the barometer of accomplishment in business, performing a little self-examination at this point in time can pay lasting dividends.
As an entrepreneur, the shortest distance between you and your dreams is your ability to set and accomplish objectives in a timely fashion. An action plan can help you stay organized, coordinate your activities, and keep your projects on schedule.
The action plan specifically outlines the steps or tasks that are necessary to achieve objectives. It includes a schedule with deadlines for significant actions, resources necessary to achieve objectives, and methods to measure these objectives. Preparing action plans addresses potential problem areas, considers the cross-functional impact of the actions, and ultimately increases productivity.
Creating a strategic business plan is a great first step. However, if your business plan gathers dust on a shelf, its value is lost. This is where the action plan comes in. It’s the place where the rubber meets the road—the catalyst that transforms your business plan into actionable results.
Your action plan sets priorities and describes the specifics of implementing your business plan. The key components of your action plan are long-term and short-term objectives. Define your long-term objectives and then set short-term objectives—baby steps—that break the larger goal down into easy-to-achieve chunks. Review these mini-goals every three to six months, and keep checking to see if you’re meeting your objectives.
Use your action plan to define how you’ll operate your business on a day-to-day basis. Address issues such as how and when you’ll manage research and development, hire employees, serve customers, market your offering, publicize your company, and work with partners and vendors.
Your action plan should get down to legal brass tacks as well. Providing detailed information about legal preparation and documents is a must. Describe how you’ll obtain trademarks and licenses, rent space or create a home office; order, install, and maintain equipment; purchase and inventory supplies; market your business, and distribute products and services. In other words, your action plan turns your business plan into a game plan that makes it real.
How Do You Execute Your Action Plan?
You’ve established your vision, created a business plan, secured funding, and outlined your action plan. Now it’s time to act. So, how do you execute your action plan?
Once you’ve identified your long-and short-term objectives, you’re ready to execute using the baby-steps approach that incrementalizes the entire process. Want to execute your action plan in the simplest, most success-prone manner?
- Create an action plan based on your business plan.
- Review the action plan with your team and solicit feedback.
- Agree on a strategy and a direction.
- Review your long-and short-term objectives.
- Break the objectives down into manageable components.
- Identify required tasks and prioritize them.
- Begin executing against these goals, taking incremental, baby steps.
- Break large tasks down into manageable short-term efforts. As each smaller goal is reached, you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment and generate momentum and confidence.
- Remember—it’s not necessary to start out by attacking the most important issue if you can get some little ones out of the way first.
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