A must-read for all business owners
Where the rubber hits the road - Strategies and Action Plans
How will you build this company?
By now, you should have a clear sense of Why? (why are you going to all this trouble to build a company?) and What? (what are you doing here?). It’s time to begin talking about How?.
The Strategy section of your One Page Business Plan™ is where you describe, in broad statements, how your business will be built and managed, and what will make it successful over time. It not only defines your business model and best practices, but it also sets limits on what your business will and will not do.
The formula for writing a strong Strategy statement is:
Goal + How 1, How 2 and How 3 (three ways in which you will accomplish the goal)
Let me illustrate this idea with some examples of good Strategy statements:
• Build client base (goal) by direct advertising (How 1), referral incentives (How 2) and internet marketing plan (How 3)
• Increase profitability (goal) by cutting costs (How 1), higher per-customer revenues (How 2) and increased customer base (How 3)
• Reduce expenses (goal) by efficient IT use (How 1), one less FTE (How 2) and renegotiated vendor contracts (How 3)
• Develop Internet marketing strategy (goal) by SEO (How 1), keyword-rich blog (How 2) and Google AdWords (How 3)
By now I hope you see the pattern - you name the goal that relates to your Objectives and then state three different ways in which you plan to accomplish the goal. This methodology encourages you to select at least three “how” different ways to accomplish your goals, to expand your creative thinking.
For a new company, it's advisable to limit your Strategies to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Although the methodology allows for up to nine Strategies, I'd encourage you to generate five or six, maximum. The rigor of this process comes from being disciplined enough to select the most important and viable strategies!
Once you have your Strategies, it's time to convert them into Action Plans.
An Action Plan is a quarter-by-quarter description, over the span of one year, of exactly what the work is to be done.
Action Plans answer the question: What is the actual work that must be done to build the company?
While your strategies span many years and describe how you will build your company over time, your Action Plans describe the high-level projects that you will engage in, during each quarter in the upcoming year.
Action Plans are not to-do list items. Instead, they are high-level projects with deadlines, prioritized over the entire year to enable you to tackle logically the work that directly supports those key Strategies for 2008 from your list outlined above.
Again let's turn to examples to make this clearer.
If we take the first strategy statement from above “Build client base by direct advertising, referral incentives and internet marketing plan”, then the accompanying Action Plan might look like this:
• Quarter 1: complete direct mail postcard campaign by February 7, 2008
• Quarter 1: set up blog with branded identity & begin blogging 3x weekly by January 15, 2008
• Quarter 2: roll out referral offer of “free XYZ service to customers referring 5 new enrolled customers” by May 1, 2008
• Quarter 3: go live with redesigned website/blog by July 1, 2008
• Quarter 4: complete repeat mail postcard campaign by October 15, 2008
As you can see, each of the above activities represents a somewhat complex project made up of many small to-do steps. "Sign up for blogging platform" would be a to-do step in the larger project, rather than a true Action Plan.
So here’s your assignment, if you choose to accept it this month -- review your Objectives, and select the five or six Strategies that would truly support your Objectives. Then identify the Action Plans that make the most sense for investing your business's resources (time, money, energy, raw materials), on a quarter-by-quarter basis, in order to accomplish your key Strategies for 2008.
Next month, I will summarize these four months of articles into an "a wrap up” of how to write an effective One Page Business Plan™ Executive Summary. I'm hoping that this will kick-start a great 2008 for your business or practice!