How to design a business plan you’ll actually USE!

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How to design a business plan you’ll actually USE...

If you’ve been in business long, chances are that you’ve had (or heard of) the experience of writing a Business Plan, only to have it filed in the bottom of a drawer never to see the light of day again.

I know I have!

But, there's no need to be scared or hesitant to create a business plan. A business plan is simply about choosing the destination you want to end up at.

Once you've chosen a destination, you are better placed to plan out the quickest and easiest way to get there. 

As the saying goes:

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.

A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.

A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”
― Greg Reid

But, how do you create a business plan that you'll actually USE, if you haven't been successful with them in the past?

I believe that the best way to create a successful business plan is to ditch the name "business plan" and to just create an "action plan" instead...

What is an action plan?

To me, an Action Plan is a system for success, designed to help you take action daily. 

If consistent action is then taken (and it was the right strategic action), the destination can almost be achieved by default.

How do you create an action plan?

Here are my 5 steps that I recommend, to help you create your business action plan...

1. Choose your destination...

Before you even get to the setting up your Action plan part, you need to know where you're going. Otherwise, what's the point - you could end up anywhere or nowhere...

Many small business owners actually find it much harder to set goals or a "destination" than they anticipate. Sometimes this is because they haven't thought about it. Sometimes it's because they're scared to commit to something. Often it's because they have a lot of past unhelpful beliefs telling them that they always fail.

But, I believe that all small business owners, should have a 1-2 sentence defined "destination" at all times, guiding them (and any team members) in their action taking in the business.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself which can help you establish your destination:
  • What does success look like to you in your business at the moment?
  • How will you know you've achieved that success?
    • What will you feel like?
    • See?
    • Experience?

I’m of the opinion that it’s worth taking the time on getting this foundation right. If you don’t feel clear, excited and a little nervous about the destination you’ve set, then chances are you need to go back and do a bit more work on defining it.

2. Define your WHY 

Why do you want to achieve this destination?

Your why sits above everything else and shouldn’t be taken for granted. 

If you aren’t clear on your why, or you don’t have a strong enough why, then when times get tough it will be easy to quit taking action and throw the towel in on your plan.

So, set yourself up for success and really dig down into WHY you’re doing it?

3. Work out WHAT projects and action steps you need to achieve to get to your destination

Now that you've defined what success looks like, and why you want that success, it's time to work out what's required to get there.

E.g. Do you need to rebuild your website? Increase your pricing? Up skill in something? Build something? Increase production?

It's time to list all those projects and action steps. This can be quite overwhelming. So I recommend just choosing the big picture projects, planning which of those you can complete in the next 12 months, and planning which of those is the priority for the next 90 days.

It's then best to focus on only 90 days at a time, reviewing and redefining every 90 days as needed. Then you will be able to maintain better focus, be clear on your most immediate action steps, and not become overwhelmed by everything.

Defining and prioritising projects, and action steps, is definitely something that a lot of people struggle to complete themselves, which is what leads us to the next question:

4. WHO's help do you need to get there?

E.g. Do you need to grow a bigger team? Hire expert assistance? Get a business coach?

This is a big one because no business owner can achieve their goals by themselves. 

Even if they are solopreneurs, they usually need at least an accountant or bookkeeping specialist, or someone to help pack and send orders. 

A business that relies on only one person is usually a very vulnerable business.

If you feel really stuck with step 3 or 4, please reach out, I'd love to help you.

Another great option is to take my In-Flight Profit Detector®

The In-Flight Profit Detector® will help you assess 26 areas of your business in under 15 minutes, and give you an action plan of what to work on first.

5. HOW often will you track and review your plan?

This is the biggest one of all - the step which will decide whether you will USE your plan or file and forget it...

Here's my recommended action for making sure you use your plan

Open up your diary now and create a recurring time in your diary. This is the time you will work on your action steps, and review your progress.

I recommend some time daily, weekly and monthly.

My final tip is to protect that time and use it wisely. 

Because it's business development time, it can be pretty easy to switch back into "reactive mode" and use the time you've set aside to work on seemingly "urgent" tasks.

But, remember, you created this action plan for a reason - to help you achieve your destination!

And you won't get to your destination without taking the action. So, I recommend that you protect your "action taking time" as much as possible, so that you can protect your ability to achieve your goals.

Remember, I'm here to help you anytime you get stuck and need some help.

All you need to do is reach out.

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).

If you’d like individualised help with growing your business, check out our services.


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  1. So good to find a type of business plan that is inspiring to write. Thanks!
    Foundations all set, hanging out for part two now so I can set my action steps.

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