To grow a business and get business results quicker, it is really, REALLY, important to use the little time you have to get the best result. And the best way to make use of your time is develop an action plan.
- Set a clear goal
- Prioritise - pick the top 5 activities that will have the biggest impact on your business
- Break the top 5 down into mini-activities
- Allocate action owners
- Plan and diarise when actions will be done
- Review your action plan and delivery regularly
Set a clear goal
Really think about what you want to achieve in the year. Take time to assess the state of your business currently (a situational analysis). Think about what is holding you back. Think about what is stopping you meet your goal? Identify the big blockers to moving forward.
Identify the actions you could take to fix and overcome the goal blockers. Think about what fixing each one would mean to your business results. Would those one or two things move you quickly closer to having the business and lifestyle you want?
Prioritise - pick the top 5 activities that will have the biggest impact on your business
I use a similar approach with businesses as Warren Buffet’s 25/5 rule - where he suggests we only focus on the top 5 things we want to do and throw away the rest.
Ok, throwing away the rest is a bit extreme, I won’t really do that, but I will typically work with a business to think through all the options they have to grow their business in a year, whittle it down and then focus on delivering only 5 during the year.
I do this to make sure we will put our energy and focus on the 5 that we believe will make the biggest impact. That way you are taking strategic approach to continually moving the business forward. Once those are done we can focus on our next priorities.
Break the top 5 down into mini-activities
Most priority activities for growing a business take more than one action.
My advice is to break each priority down into all the different steps that will need to be done to complete the activity – actions. A mind-mapping approach is a great way to get the brain flowing and identify all the steps and actions.
Allocate action owners
Nothing gets done unless someone does it. For each mini-action put an action owner.
Plan and diarise when actions will be done
Diarise when activities are due. Set up monthly (or even daily or weekly) check-in points to make sure everything stays on track.
Review your action plan and delivery regularly
If action is perceived as not important, delivery will slip. Make sure your action owners are accountable. You don’t have to micro-manage, but you need to stay in control and on top of delivery.
The planning process may seem like a chore, but don’t forget it comes with some hidden benefits. Planning will help you manage your business covering all aspects including admin, operations, marketing, staff and recruitment, managing finances, sales, product and service development and measuring business results.
Remember, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” - Benjamin Franklin
Jane Cuthbertson is a Chartered Marketer based in Stirling, Scotland.
a diverse marketing background, she specialises in setting strategic
marketing plans with long-term goals and is skilled in implementing
integrated marketing programmes that deliver sales results.
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