"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." This quote, thought to have been from Benjamin Franklin, could not be more transparent. Developing an action plan with measurable goals is key to achieving any desire, whether for business or pleasure. Today, I will give you the fundamental knowledge you need to start creating your plan of action.
What is an Action Plan?
An action plan is a strategic method of achieving one's business goals. To do this, a business goal is pieced down into actionable steps that clarify needed resources, allocate responsibilities, and set an appropriate timeline.
The creation of an action plan itself is insightful as it allows you to analyze your goal from every angle and visualize what it will take to actually make that goal a reality.
What Are Measurable Goals?
Before we jump into developing an action plan, I first want to explain a measurable goal. Have you heard the term "SMART" Goal? A SMART Goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Let's break that down.
S – Specific
A specific goal can answer the five “W" questions, as in who, what, where, which, and why.
Who is involved in the process of achieving this goal? What tools are needed to accomplish this goal? Where will the implementation of this goal take place? Which resources are needed? AND, most importantly, why is this goal important to you and your business?
M – Measurable
A measurable goal has quantifiable steps or performance indicators that you can monitor and analyze to ensure that you are making progress.
A – Achievable
An achievable goal is one that you can actually accomplish! While it is good to dream big, a SMART goal is one that you can reasonably achieve with your given resources, timeline, and skillset.
R – Relevant
In addition to your goal being achievable, you want it to be relevant. If you own a marketing business, but your goal is to never be on social media…that doesn’t make sense. You want to form goals that are relevant to you and your business.
T – Time-Based
Lastly, your SMART goal should have a deadline. Goals that aim "for the future" tend to get put off until so much time has passed that it is forgotten or no longer possible. You want to set a clear timeline for your goals, which we will discuss further below.
Steps to Developing an Action Plan
1. Determine Project Goals & Objectives
Now that you have an outline of how to create a SMART goal, you can determine your project goals and objectives. Your project goal is the overarching aspect that you want to achieve, and your project objectives are the specific deliverables that make up that goal. Again, let's assume that you are a marketing company; your goal could be to increase your sales numbers, with your objective being to achieve a 10% sales increase within a year specifically.
Remember that your project objectives should address every part of what it means to design a SMART goal; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
2. Define & Prioritize Action Steps
The next phase is determining what steps need to be taken to achieve that goal. It could be everything from learning a new skill, hiring staff, increasing productivity, completing a new product line, you name it.
Personally, I recommend taking the main goal and breaking it down into smaller and smaller steps. I wrote another post on how to do just that. Make sure to check it out HERE!
3. Decide Roles & Responsibilities
Now that you know which steps to take, it is time to assign WHO is going to take them. If you are working solo, you may think that it is all on you. However, you may be able to get some help from your significant other, family, or even friends.
On the other hand, you may have a team, partner, staff, or assistant who works with you. You can split up tasks to make these steps more manageable, especially if you and your team have different skillsets. I highly suggest taking the time to analyze who is the best fit for this particular step and how a collective effort can be managed and utilized to the best of its ability.
4. Allocate Resources
One step that is often forgotten is the allocation of resources. What is it going to take to make these steps happen? Money? Time? Tools? Programs? Extra staff? Whatever it is, you must critically analyze how you are going to obtain and distribute these resources.
If something costs too much money or takes too much time, you may need to shift focus and brainstorm other angles to find an alternative path to success. Remember, the mountain's peak is the goal, but there are likely dozens of different trails to get there. You just need to find the right route for you.
5. Set a Timeline
As I mentioned above when talking about the time-based aspect of creating SMART goals, setting a timeline is critical. You don't want to just leave it up to "I'll get to it when I have a chance" or "when the timing is right" because that moment will likely never come. If you really want to make this goal a reality, you have to put pressure on yourself (REASONABLY) to make it happen.
The best way to do this is to estimate how much time each little action step will take. Whether it is a day, a week, or more, it doesn't matter; you just need to get an estimated timeline for each part. Then you put it all together for a long-term timeline estimate! I suggest adding a smidge of wiggle room for delays like holidays, getting sick, or things simply taking longer than expected.
Once you have a timeline, pick a start date and a due date! Then you’re off to the races!
6. Write Out a Master Plan
The last step is writing out a master plan. Actionable plans should not exist solely in your head or on a collection of sticky notes spread throughout the house. It should be a firm, written-out explanation covering every aspect. That way, you can refer to it, show it to others, and have evidence of how far you have come so far.
You may also want to consider using a project management tool to make it easier. There are various tools out there that can help you assign and manage tasks through the use of calendars, time clocks, and a host of other elements that make it much easier!
Implementing a Plan of Action
At the end of the day, a plan is just a dream unless you act upon it. Don't wait to start implementing your action plan! Take the next step by reading the final installment of my Business Academy Blog Series HERE! (Coming soon!)
Are you ready to fully dive in? Book a FREE Discovery Call with me to learn about how you take the next step in growing your business.