Business owners and entrepreneurs are known for their ability to make quick decisions on-the-fly, oftentimes solving problems and putting out fires nobody anticipated.
This is part of the job. But, the downside is when this happens all the time. It becomes normal. Business owners mistake being “busy” as productive. Then, they are frustrated or confused as to why their business is not moving forward in ways that matter.
Some question their business plan altogether, which may be true but — in all likelihood — would be an unfortunate overreaction and, frankly, a waste of time.
Here’s a reality check, TCB style: If you find yourself perpetually “busy” and at the same time frustrated, you are losing money and it is high time to create an Action Plan.
Now, an Action Plan is not sexy. It’s about as exciting as a grocery list. Yet, the humble grocery list is super effective because it forces you to prioritise your needs and create action in alignment with those needs.
Ever try grocery shopping when you don’t have a list? You end up spending too much time at the store, ending up with a massive cart of things you probably don’t need.
How about when you don’t have a list and you’re hungry? Eek. We all know how that goes. It’s all lizard brain and a bit manic.
Just think of an Action Plan as a more robust list, where you do what you need to do and get what you need in the most intentional way possible. It is intentional because it is connected to firm outcomes that improve your bottom line.
That reminds me of a home security business who was $150,000 in debt to the tax office. The owner of that business was always “busy” and working hard, but money mysteriously kept leaking out of the pipes.
In the time it would take to run some errands and go shopping, we drew up an action plan that, I kid you not, led to that business being worth 5 million dollars two years later. Someone needs to give that guy a medal. I never get tired telling his story about slowing down in order to get ahead.
Slowing down is, in my opinion, the fastest way to meet your milestones, and an Action Plan is the best way to create those milestones. Big businesses have the luxury of delegating such Action Plans to a department, yet “solopreneur” and small and medium sized enterprises are often time poor and can’t “find the time” to take time.
To, as they say, 80/20 this, and give you a jump start, you may find the following Action Plan structure worth adopting. In your session, try to get clear on the following:
1. Clear Purpose: Know what you want to achieve. It could be to keep momentum or increase profits, even a lifestyle balance by being able to step away from the business.
2. Support : Know who will be helping you to achieve your purpose whether it be your existing team, investors, or new partners to collaborate with.
3. Timeframe : Set milestones. Know what you want to achieve and when.
4. Strategy : Decide what steps you will take to sell to a different market or sell a new product.
5. Outcome : Define your expected outcomes.
This is doable on your own or with your team. If you don’t have a team, it may be the right time to seek out some supportive rockstars who’ll help you with the process.
Do aim for the moon, but bear in mind that an action plan has to be realistic and achievable. Remember, too, that thousands of other businesses have been exactly where you are, and researching how their Action Plan landed them on the moon may be the ideal move to make your business profitable.