I was sitting across a dear friend of mine just last week. She was asking me what I was up to these days and what my latest project was. We are always joking because I am always up to something. I’m always creating a new offering, working for a new client, or something like that.
I told her a little bit about my latest business plan course and program, Your Action Based Business Plan, and how I plan to help entrepreneurs and small business owners write and craft the perfect actionable business plan that makes sense for them and their business. I also mentioned how this was completely and totally outside of the norm. Most business plan writers and instructors tend to stick to the usual traditional business plan, and I want to break free from that.
And that’s when she said, “Mara, that’s brilliant. I’ve written a few myself, and the majority of them live in the back of my file cabinet. I honestly do not think that I’ve looked at them since I wrote them.”
That got my wheels turning a bit more.
You see, many entrepreneurs and business owners fall victim of the “File Cabinet Business Plan Syndrome”. It’s like, as business owners, we all know that a plan is crucial, but what’s the point in creating one if it holds absolutely no value to you outside of the “what if I need it one-day” thoughts that pop up in our heads.
And so that is the mission I’ve set out to achieve: teaching entrepreneurs just like you how to implement an action plan in your business that you can build upon in the future.
It’s pretty rad if I do say so myself.
But then my friend asked this thought-provoking question:
But, how can a business plan be implemented in my business?
I mean, if I write it, what do I do with it afterward?
And that’s a problem that many entrepreneurs and business owners face. They’re excited to write it but then have no idea how to use it and implement it in the business.
With that, I have a few ideas to help you take that extremely important document (that you probably spent weeks, if not months, working on) and implement it into your day-to-day:
1. Focus on your goals
I know it sounds so cliche, but if you can begin utilizing the information within the business plan to support your goals, you will find that achieving those goals becomes so much easier.
The dictionary defines “business plan” as a ‘document that sets out to define a business’ objectives, and the plan and strategies used to meet those objectives’. You aren’t supposed to write it and leave it. Nope! This document is meant to help you along your entrepreneurial and business path. It is meant to help guide you in decision making. It is meant to help you reach your goals. And it is meant to act as a strategic partner, not just something that you write and say “goodbye” to.
When I’m working with a client, I’m always asking them – “Ok, this information is great! But how does this align with your goals internally?” I ask this question because I believe that it is crucial for the writer (which is most likely the business owner) to understand why the information matters and how it can be used now as well as in the future.
2. Weave in action
It’s one thing to set goals. It’s a totally different ball game when you set the action to complement and drive your goals within your business plan.
And this can be very simple. When you are writing your business plan, include a little extra space for jotting down goals, as well as the action steps it will take to reach them.
If you are writing in the Marketing Plan section and you have identified that additional market research is necessary to completely map out and strategize the marketing plan, then great! Write that down. But, what you should also include is the action steps it will take to get to a place where you can check this goal off of your list.
Action steps may look like:
*Create a survey to send to my email list
*Identify opportunities from the survey
*Implement findings into the marketing plan
Boom! You have created the action that aligns with a business goal for a particular part of your business. Talk about implementation 😉
But it doesn’t stop there. Action steps do not become action until you set deadlines and begin working towards those deadlines. For each action step, set an achievable deadline and hold yourself accountable. You’ll start to notice your business moving in a forward motion.
3. Understand the WHY of your business plan
I say and ask this all the time – WHY do you need a business plan?
You would be absolutely amazed at how many entrepreneurs have no idea why they need one.
Not that I’m faulting anyone. I just believe that it is so very important for you to understand your own objective in writing and crafting a business plan. Without a personal and professional objective, what’s the point? Plus, if you understand the why, you will understand how to implement your business plan in your day to day operations following the writing process.
Whew! That’s a lot! But some good information for you to base your business plan off of. There are dozens of ways to implement a business plan in your company. But I am a firm believer that it starts with actions and coming back to the true meaning of the document in the first place.