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Have an action plan, not just a business plan – StartupSmart

Is your business plan gathering dust or do you have a business plan at all?


If this is you, you’re not alone. Thousands of start-up entrepreneurs start with a lot of passion but little nuts and bolts structure to what they do, or vice versa (i.e. too much structure and too little passion).


The problem is, if you don’t have the mix just right, your chances of going belly up are pretty high.


Too much passion and too little structure equals gaping holes and impending disaster.


Too much structure and too little passion equals inaction.


How do you get the mix right?


Firstly, forget fancy projection graphs and the like, and start with a set of actionable goals. You don’t have a magic wand, so without an action plan your pretty graphs will not translate into outcomes.


Here are a couple of questions to help you get started:

  • What do you want to be known for in five years’ time?


  • If you were being introduced at an event, what would the introduction say?


Here’s an example:


“Here’s Julie Adams from Adams Apple Chocolate Co. Julie is known for creating healthy chocolate even dentists love. Her healthy chocolate is known and loved throughout the world.”


What do you see yourself doing at 11am, Friday in five years’ time?


Are you sitting behind a desk with piles of paperwork before you or are you out celebrating your five years in business with your high-end clients and co-workers?


Now that you’ve imagined how you see yourself in five years’ time, start thinking about some of the other goals that you need to have in place in order to make that picture a reality and give them a use-by date.


For instance:


1. By October 1, 2013, I will be holding a copy of my newly launched book in my hand.


Okay, so I now have a lofty (but achievable) goal. Now, how to make it happen?


Next on the agenda is to set some specific objectives. Objectives differ to goals in that they are specific, actionable items for you to cross off your list. They help you achieve your overall goals.


For the goal above, an objective could be: Make the Amazon best-seller list and $20,000 in sales on my book launch day of October 1.


To break that down even more, I then establish actions that need to be taken to make the objective happen.


These might be:


  • Finish my book by June 30


  • Create a launch campaign involving collaborative launch partners by July 1


Now I need to further break these strategies down into tactics. Some of these might be:


  • Review feedback from the current draft by June 1


  • Select a copyeditor by June 1


  • Send my book to the copyeditor for final editing by June 30


  • Research publishing houses for print-on-demand books and e-books and choose publishing partners by July 1


  • Format my book for printing in InDesign by July 31


  • Write launch partner emails and prepare resources for launch partners by August 1


  • Create a landing page and other marketing collateral by September 1


  • Create an email campaign in Infusionsoft by September 12


  • Set date and venue for live launch event by September 1


What a lot of people seem to do is start with the tactics and end with the goal (or have no clear vision for where they want to be and what they want to be known for).


The problem with this approach is that you end up marketing your business in a highly reactive way, rather than setting the agenda for what you want from the outset.


Establishing a goal and working your way down to more specific tasks and tactics will ensure your business plan is not only filled with passion but actionable as well.


Even the smallest of businesses can design a business plan in this way.


What goals do you have for your business? Take 10 minutes right now to sit down and go through this process and see how it can help you turn your dreams and passion into action.

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