Action Plans are a key ingredient to any success plan. Action Plans are the scaffolding that helps you build your dreams. They support you and help you reach what you need to reach.
Businesses have lots of plans. There’s the formal business plan document that details the structure and financing and scope of the business. There’s a marketing plan. Maybe there’s a financial plan. There can be plans for any aspect of a business.
Plans are good. Creating and writing a plan forces us to answer important questions and think about what we want to achieve, what we think that will take, and more. Often the planning process teaches many great lessons. It can help us spot holes and potential problems as well as uncover new ideas. When completed, good plans are a great picture or snapshot of where we are now and where we hope to go soon.
However, once all those plans are complete, too often they are put on a shelf and relegated to collecting dust. That’s a lot of hard work just to create an artifact!
The Action Plan is your bridge between those carefully crafted plans and your to-do list. In other words, it takes the big goals you want to achieve and helps you work on them consistently. It keeps you from getting lost in the details, especially those daily interruptions and time-wasters that we all battle.
The core of the action plan is the “action”. These are things you are going to do to move you closer to your goals. They are very specific, bite-sized chunks of your goal that you are going to attack in a very achievable manner.
For instance, you may want to increase your online revenues. So, you write a specific goal: To increase online revenues by $100 a month by Dec. 31, 2010. Your Action Plan is a detailing of the steps you need to take to get there. For example, you might need to redesign your website, promote your site on social media sites, improve your product recommendations, upgrade your shopping cart, and so on. All these steps go on a Master Action Plan for that goal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—just list out these steps, preferably with due dates.
Then, you can use this Master Action Plan to put smaller steps on your Weekly Action Plan and then on your Daily To-Do List. You can use any “system” you wish for keeping your plans. Excel spreadsheets help you keep an ongoing, updatable record, and that is what I use, but paper and pencil is also fine. A small notebook would keep things handy and portable.
For more information on Action Planning, read these articles:
Business Action Plans
Examples and Tips for Writing Action Plans
And, here’s a Free downloadable Action Plan Form