You’ve probably heard about the importance of creating a business plan to plot the growth and development of your business. So you outline your goals to increase sales, reduce costs and improve profits. But then what happens? Setting goals is fine, but they need something that brings them to life. Something that makes everything happen. That something is a business action plan.
Here’s how to construct an action plan for your business that brings your goals to life.
What is a Business Action Plan?
While a strategic business plan outlines the overall growth, direction and development of the company, an action plan converts those objectives to identifiable tasks.
Quite simply, an action plan is a carefully thought-out listing of all the things that have to be done to turn your goals into reality. Let’s take an example.
Suppose one of your goals is to increase sales by 10% by hiring an additional salesperson to make more outside calls to potential new customers. The steps to achieve this objective might be as follows:
- Write up a job description
- Post your the postion on jobboards
- Review the resumes that you receive and select 10 candidates to interview.
- Schedule in-office interviews over the next three weeks.
- Take one week to go over interviews to choose a candidate and make a job offer.
Each objective in your strategic plan needs a detailed list, like the one above, of the tasks needed to accomplish the goal.
What are the Components of Action Tasks?
Effective action-oriented tasks follow the SMART outline. They are:
Specific – Setting a goal to increase sales is too general. But saying you want to increase sales by 10% is specific. This way, you take last year’s figure, suppose it was $850,000, add 10% or $85,000 and you have a new specific target of $935,000.
Measurable – Progress towards achieving a goal must be measurable. Weekly sales reports, for example, will track the movement along the path to a revenue goal.
Attainable- Employees must genuinely believe that it is possible for them to reach the objectives. If they don’t feel the objective is realistic and reasonable, they won’t even try.
Relevant – Goals must conform to the company’s business model and customer demographics. The goal should be worthwhile, match other company efforts and applicable in the current economic conditions.
Timely – Set a target date. Establish a deadline to keep the focus on tasks leading to long-term goals.
Which Resources are Needed?
Identify the resources needed to carry out each action task. How much will it cost? How many people will be needed? Will you need to purchase any additional physical assets?
In our example, someone has to write the job description, place the ad and make sure the ad is paid for. How many hours of an employee’s time will this take, and how much will the ad cost?
Communicate the Plan to Your Employees
Get your employees involved. Let them know what your plans are and explain how these actions fit into the company’s business strategy.
Ask for their input and solicit suggestions. Employees are much more likely to support your plan and participate in its implementation if they are part of its creation.
Designate a person to be in charge of each task. Someone has to accept responsibility for the execution of the assignment.
Set Timelines for Each Task
Each task must have a specific time to complete and a deadline. Without timelines, work will expand to fit the time allowed.
Monitor the Progress
Create procedures to receive regular progress reports for each action task. The responsible employees must be aware that they will be monitored, weekly if necessary, to make sure things are moving along. If obstacles appear or deviations from the expected timelines occur, adjustments can be made to get back on track.
Business action plans are the means to convert strategic ideas into reality. Tasks that are created with action plans using the SMART method with employe participation will have the highest likelihood of success.