7 Things Every Useful Action Plan Needs
This is the second post in my two-part series: ‘How to design a plan you’ll actually use’. Last time we looked at all of the different plans to help you decide what your business actually NEEDS in the way of a plan (and therefore one that you’ll actually USE).
We also went over some foundation work you should do first so go check out that first.
Today we’re going to look at how to assemble and create your Action Plan, so that it works best for you in your business, forming a system to help you achieve your goals by default.
These are 7 things a USEFUL action plan needs:
You need to be clear on your focus
And most importantly – you need to pick only ONE focus.
(See further down for more details on what I mean)
Spreading your effort too thin will mean your impact is diluted.
My Story with this
Before we go on, I want to share a story with you from my own experience of failing at accepting this.
Earlier in the year, I did not take this advice as I was trying to grow two businesses at the same time. It didn’t work well for me because my focus was too split and my results were too diluted. I started to feel burned out and I never had the time to finish anything to the quality I wanted to in the time frame I needed to. Within a short space of time, I had three very wise (and successful) mentors – Todd Herman from 90 Day Year, Michelle Clark from Genius U, and Roger Hamilton, creator of the Entrepreneur Institute and Entrepreneur Resorts all say to me that it’s impossible to grow two different businesses at the same time. I wasn’t prepared to listen. I was equally passionate about both and didn’t want to make that hard decision about giving one of them up.
Then Michelle said to me “Growing two businesses at the same time is like chasing two rabbits. And the trouble with chasing two rabbits is that you end up catching no rabbits.”
That was the moment I got it.
I wasn’t actually going to help anyone if I set myself up to fail by not being able to catch any rabbits (which in my case meant finish anything).
Now I’m not only growing one business at a time, but I’m focused on growing one PART of the business at a time. And the momentum is faster than I’ve ever experienced. I’ve seen this happen to so many others too.
So, if you’re trying to split your focus by growing more than one business for whatever reason, then I encourage you to have a long hard think about how much you want to catch YOUR rabbits.
If you had to choose one to catch, which would you choose?
Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes (and save yourself a lot of energy)!
None of the mentors was saying to never own more than one business. Or to never grow a second/third/fourth business etc. They were simply saying that it’s impossible to GROW more than one business AT A TIME.
The idea is that you need to get your business to be self-sufficient without you, with a team and/or systems managing it’s day-to-day before you can step away and give energy to something new.
So, this is why you need to pick one focus.
2. Picking your one focus
I’ve encouraged you to pick one focus, but what on earth do I mean?
These are the types of things I’m talking about:
- Growing sales/clients
- Creating new products/services
- Growing the team
- Improving how the team works together
- Refining the internal systems for better efficiency
- Improving customer service for customer retention
If you have a team, you could focus on one thing per team. But, a team needs to be 3+ people for that to be the case. Otherwise, I’d recommend picking one. And, it needs to be the one that will make the biggest impact on your business once it’s improved.
Pick a focus based on one of these types.
3. Set your time period
Now that you’ve got your focus, you need to work out your timeframe for focusing on improving it.
The method I teach is to work on an annual plan,
Break that down into quarters
Break that down into months
Then work out your themes from there and all your core dates from there
E.g. What are the really crucial launch dates?
For example, if you’re going to launch a summer promotion because your focus is to bring in more sales- What date will it start? When will it end?
By breaking it down like this it means that all you need to focus on per day/week is achieving your weekly projects/milestones towards your one focus. If you stay laser focussed on achieving those, you can rest knowing you’ll achieve your plan by default.
While it’s important to have an overall plan for your goals over the next 1-3 years, I encourage my clients to focus their detailed action plan on what they want to achieve/promote in only 90 days/quarter increments. This makes it so much easier to stay focused and see momentum build.
At the end of each quarter, we do a review of how the results went, make any adjustments necessary, and set up the plan for the following quarter.
This method works extremely well for the majority of businesses.
Decide what time period will work for your business. If you’re not sure, I recommend going with a 90 day period.
4. Work out what needs to be created
To achieve your goal/focus, there will be a bunch of things that need to be created. E.g in our summer promotion example above, we will need to make sales pages thank you pages, emails, brochures, ads, etc.
Write the list of everything that needs to be created for your theme focus and when it needs to be created by.
These are the projects which will support your one focus.
5. Work out and measure your milestones
As part of making your Action Plan a success, you need to have a way to measure if you’re on track or not.
If you set milestones for each week, then measure your progress towards your milestones, it’s easy to see if you’re staying on track or veering off course.
There are two parts to your milestones:
- The development milestones (pre-launch) – that big long list of things that you just wrote down that need to be created – what are the due dates for all of those things? Work backwards from your launch dates and set them from there
- Your live milestones (post-launch) – these are the ones that come after you’ve set your launch rocket off. For example; In our summer sale example, if we launch on 1 Jan, each week after you’ve launched, how many of your special thing are you going to need to sell?
You can work this out by the following formula:
(Revenue Goal / Product or service cost) / your timeframe
If I want to make $10,000 from selling a $97 course over a 12 week period, my numbers would look like this:
$10,000 / $97 = 103 courses
103 courses / 12 weeks = 9 courses per week (if I round up)
Of course, it doesn’t always work out evenly like this. Quite often you will be aiming to make almost all your revenue in a 2-3 week period during your launch. So, this is only one example, and your numbers will depend on your type of focus.
Work out your weekly milestones.
How will you measure your progress?
I suggest that you set yourself up a system/way of tracking that’s going to be really easy for you to fill out and stay accountable to.
Trello is great for this if you’re looking for a free tool.
Or an Excel/Google sheet
6. Delegate and Communicate
A great Action Plan is one that doesn’t all depend on you to make it happen or keep yourself accountable. You need to delegate who is in charge overall, then who is going to do what and assign responsibilities.
(If you’re a solopreneur think about whether there are any actions that you could outsource to a freelancer to help you achieve your plan, or at the very least I encourage you to find someone that you can meet with weekly to keep you accountable and review your milestones with you.)
Work out who is going to run this shindig
Assign a person to be responsible for creating/overseeing each of the development milestones
7. Setting up your reviews.
Reviewing your progress is SO so important! I encourage you to set your reviews into your diary AT THE BEGINNING of the process so that they happen.
If your plan is designed correctly, it should be your main focus each and every day as you go about your tasks. In other words, it will give you wisdom when planning your day because when challenges or tasks come up in your business, you can ask yourself “is this supporting me achieving my Action Plan, or is it detracting from me achieving my Plan.
I suggest that you review your own progress daily, but with another person or your team weekly.
Then each month you’ll have a longer review.
At the end of each quarter, you’ll have a longer review again where you talk through what worked, what didn’t and set up your plan for the quarter ahead with those in mind.
Diary in your weekly/monthly and quarterly reviews
Share the plan with and coordinate your reviews with your accountability partner/team.
I encourage you to set some time aside to complete all of the Action Steps and start designing your plan so that you have created yourself a system to start achieving success by default.
Need some more help?
This was a super high-level overview of how to set yourself up with a plan you’ll actually use. I’ve tried to cover the most important parts, but I certainly haven’t been able to cover everything.
If you feel like you’d like some extra help or accountability with your plan, then I’d love to help.
We have two options available:
- To find out about how I could help with one-on-one coaching, book some time with me here for a no-obligation chat about your business and how I could help. (PS for you to get the most value from this, I encourage you to do The BOSS Test first as it will be super helpful as it will save us a lot of time giving me an understanding of your business).
- For those who don’t have the budget to work with a coach one-on-one, work with me virtually by taking my “Plan Your System for Success Masterclass”. You get all the good stuff I teach one-to-one, but at a fraction of the price. Check it out here:
I hope that has helped. All the best with designing your epic plan!!
Want a step by step guide to working out your plan?
About the author:
Kat Soper is the Founder and Head Trainer of The Helpful Academy Online Business School.
Kat is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses succeed and achieve their business goals so that they can achieve the lifestyle they desire (and deserve).