I’m not a big fan of formal business plans. There, I said it. However, I am a fierce proponent of setting short, mid and long-range goals, then making action plans in 90-day chunks.

While the big picture is necessary, it’s often not realistic to plan specific action steps much further than a few months at a time. And theoretical planning can only take you so far.

Here are 3 tips that I share with my coaching clients to prepare them to make an effective plan:

1. Know what you need.
Start with your 5-10-year goal (as far out as you can see!), then work backwards into your goals for 3 years, 1 year, and 1 quarter.

Once you’re clear on the revenue AND profit goal for the quarter, calculate how many clients you’ll need to hit it, or what other projects will be necessary.

I know it sounds obvious, but unless you’ve actually completed this step and know the numbers off the top of your head, don’t discount it. Do it.

2. Be specific.
Bad action plan:
Week 1: hire a new salesperson

Good action plan:
Week 1: write a job description, including performance metrics
Week 2: write recruitment ad, post recruitment ad, send a copy to trusted sources to seek referrals
Week 3: schedule & conduct phone interviews
Week 4: …You get the point.

We tend to over-simplify our plans, hence over-estimating how much we can accomplish in a week. You’re already busy! Give yourself some grace, and permission to take one bite at a time. Overwhelm doesn’t get things done any faster.

3. Engage with your plan regularly
The more frequently you review your plan, the stronger your focus and motivation, and the faster your goals will come to pass.

To increase the odds of this happening, condense your 90-day plan to one page and keep it somewhere that you see it regularly. For example:
• Print it on brightly colored paper and leave it on top of your desk
• Post it on the wall in your office
• Write it on the first page of the notebook that you carry everyday
• Back-up plan: set a recurring reminder on your phone or computer to review it at least once per week

Remember that your plan is a living document. Don’t be afraid to change stuff, delete stuff, move stuff around, and most importantly, cross steps off as you accomplish them. (Endorphins – yay!)

Then at the end of each quarter, take inventory of your successes, lessons learned, and progress toward your big picture goals, and make a fresh plan for the next 90 days!

About Your Columnist

Karie Kaufmann is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers everything about “action and results” in growing a successful business. Since 2005, Karie Kaufmann, MBA, has coached over 400 business owners to achieve their goals, with her clients reporting an average of 31% increase in revenues year over year. Her passions include: her family, her dog, food, traveling, shoes, spreadsheets, iced coffee, and helping business owners grow their profits.

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