Action: Following Your Plan
Wow! Look how far you’ve come. You’re actually ready for action. Let’s just do a quick review to see how we got to this point.
You started with the abstract concept of your business – your vision. You were able to see it with your mind’s eye. You identified and quantified what it would look like as a mature business. Then you took a snapshot of where you are now and how you are operating. Since there was a difference between the two, we determined the size of that difference and how long we thought it might take to get from where we are to where we want to be.
If our timeframe realistically is five years we’ll need to work backward from that place we want to be in five years. The more this can be quantified, the better, because we need some benchmarks along the way to show us how we’re doing against our ultimate plan. These benchmarks correspond to our goals, which we set on an annual basis in an order that gets us closer to our vision with each passing year.
From the goals comes the strategy for how we’ll accomplish them. From the strategy comes the specific task list – our plan. In order to support carrying out our plan we need to know when we will undertake each task, what resources will be required and what the expected result/reward will be – and when we can expect to see those results. That was the subject of our last article on financial planning.
At this point, you’ve got an operating plan and a financial plan, both of which have addressed the timing issue. From your financial projections you know when your expenses will occur from month to month. So the next step is to apply your plans to your daily calendar on a month-by month basis. It’s good to include your revenue, expense and projected profit goals also. It helps to have the list available to help keep you on target.
Then you place each task in one of the four weeks of the month, where they seem to be most logical. Obviously you don’t want to pile them all in the same week. Consider the time each will take and use your best judgment about where to include them. Once you’ve transferred to the weeks you will be ready to transfer to the daily calendar as each week comes up. Now you’re at the day-to-day operating level. This is where your plan is being carried out. If you aren’t doing it here, it isn’t happening.
It isn’t hard; it just means taking the time at the beginning of the month and each week. At the end of each week, see what you accomplished from your list and what has to be carried forward or dropped. Make any adjustments to your monthly plans based on what has transpired during the past month.
Using our plan to increase gross income (revenue) by $60,000 for the year, let’s see what happens on a month to month basis. In June, we pay for our sales materials. (June projected expenses are $10,000).
We’ve projected $10,000, so we know that’s our budget. In the planning phase we would have probably started working on our sales materials and finding someone to provide them in April. That’s how we knew how much to include in the financial plan for sales materials. We put that plan into action by adding “finalize sales material provider” as the task to be completed for week one of April. Then week two might be to check initial drafts and return for changes. Week three will likely be sign off on proposal and week four or five would be when we’d receive the materials.
Based on this we’re ready to start our training in May. That means we’ll have to start preparing that in April also. We’ll be paying the provider of our training in July in accordance with our plan. We plan to do a campaign in August and September also which we’d include in our sales costs in August, September and October.
Now you can break up the tasks in each of these months by week and you’re implementing your plan.
We’ve translated our plan into action and have a way to check to see how we’re doing. Next we’ll look at the management aspect of the business. That’s where we see if what we planned actually happened and if not, why not? We can also see how close we are to our projected budget. Now it gets interesting.