Over the past few months, I’ve been writing and thinking quite a bit about making post-pandemic changes in your business as a self-employed professional. First there was Reinventing Your Business to Survive a Pandemic, followed by Want to Create a Product, Program or Membership? Here’s Where to Start, then What Is the New Normal for Your Business?
Re-envisioning what you want your business to include can be challenging work, but the next stage may be even harder. You must turn your vision into a plan — and not just any plan, but one you can take action on. Without an action plan, your business vision will remain no more than a dream.
An effective action plan requires at least three elements:
- A set of objectives to be achieved
- An inventory of what must be done to achieve each objective
- Target dates for each objective and for key action items
Sometimes other elements are needed, like a budget or staffing requirements, but let’s set those aside for the moment and explore how to create the simple, 3-element version of an action plan.
Set your objectives
An objective is simply a definable chunk of activities or deliverables that will make your vision concrete. If your vision is to create a webinar-based learning program that teaches some of what you do in your client work, your objectives might be these:
- Outline the program
- Create the marketing copy
- Set up enrollment
- Execute a marketing campaign
- Design the program
- Deliver the program
How do you know what your objectives should be, when your vision is of something you’ve never done before? Check out these five quick solutions to the “I don’t know how” problem. Then make a list or create a mindmap to sketch out what you think are the right set of objectives.
Inventory what must be done
For each of your objectives, determine what needs to happen in order to achieve it. One way to accomplish this is to imagine yourself trying to work on that objective, step by step. For example, to create the marketing copy for your new learning program, you might need to start with the outline created as your first objective, and now:
- Describe who should take this program
- Define the program’s main outcomes
- List the key learning points
- Detail your background as the program leader
- Choose dates when the program will take place
- Coin a name for the program
- Draft the marketing copy
- Get feedback/help/editing for your draft
- Finalize the copy
If you get stuck trying to think through all the necessary action steps for each objective, try one of the “I don’t know how” solutions again.
Establish target dates
Your last step to finalize your action plan is to determine target dates for each of your objectives or key action items. It’s often helpful to work backwards from when you would like the plan to be completed. For our learning program example, working backwards from your final objective to determine a target date for each objective might look like this:
- Deliver the program – Oct 4-8
- Design the program – Sept 4-Oct 4
- Execute a marketing campaign – Aug 23-Oct 4
- Set up enrollment – Aug 16-23
- Create the marketing copy – Aug 2-16
- Outline the program – July 26-Aug 2
By taking the time to work out how long you will need for each objective, you’ll be able to create a realistic, achievable action plan.
Don’t let your brilliant ideas for your business stall out for lack of a plan to bring them to life. Start creating an action plan for your newest business vision, and your reinvention concepts will move forward on the right track.