Many people don’t like planning. But in business, your action plan is the key to focusing on the right information in the right order – much like the combination to a safe – and it helps measure progress toward your goals.
Here's how you should use an action plan to accelerate growth and increase your revenues and income.
Make sure you know who your ideal customer is, because it’s often not who you think it is, or who you are currently selling to.
How to Create an Action Plan for Business Growth
1. Create a revenue plan.
Identify your sources of revenues, the product or services that you offer, how many you plan on selling, and the price you will charge. This will let you know if it’s possible to achieve your financial goals.
2. Map your gap.
This is the distance from where you are to where you want to be. This includes your financial, non-financial and personal goals – revenues, profits, volume of sales, number of customers, etc. It’s a snapshot for you to decide if it’s the journey you want to take, or change.
3. Know your customer.
Make sure you know who your ideal customer is, because it’s often not who you think it is, or who you are currently selling to. Knowing the profile of your customer will help you save time and money when it comes to acquiring them. This is the foundation for every business.
4. Document how your prospects/customers think and behave.
Specifically, you should think about why customers decide to purchase – which is the key to making the sale. Every decision starts with a desire created by internal emotion or external influence. If you follow the way they think and act, then you can place your product or service right in front of them at the point of decision.
5. Create a unique positioning in your market.
In a world of clutter, what gets heard is a simple message. Identify the biggest problem in your marketplace and then tell people how you solve that problem, and say it in less than one minute.
6. Know what sets you apart.
Write down the biggest benefit that you offer your customers (a benefit that your competition doesn't offer). It doesn’t have to be a coherent statement, it just has to have impact.
7. Take action.
This is what is missing from the book The Secret, which talks about using The Law of Attraction to bring abundance into your life. You cannot attract abundance without taking action. Affirmations, visualizations, and meditation all work together when you add action to the formula.
8. Success starts with the belief that it’s possible.
Your current belief system may not be helping you achieve your goals. Old paradigms (beliefs) are the number one reason for holding us back from achieving what’s possible.
9. Determine which distribution channels you will use for your business.
A distribution channel is simply the place where the transaction takes place between you and your customer – otherwise known as the point of sale. The seven distribution channels to choose from are: retail, online, direct sales, events, mail order, phone sales, or agents.
10. Select the right strategies.
These should get people to the point of sale identified in step No. 4, and there are about 130 strategies and tactics to choose from (i.e., advertising, direct mail, copywriting, telemarketing, internet marketing, etc.).
11. Create a 90-day sales and marketing schedule.
This will help you plan the strategies, tactics, timing, and who will be responsible for implementation. Once you get your thoughts on paper, you can feel less overwhelmed that you now have some direction to follow or action items to delegate.
These 11 steps are not intended to represent a complete guide to creating a detailed action plan – they are intended to help you get started. Now you have something to measure against and you can review things periodically to see if you are on track. Ask yourself every day if you are on track or if something needs to be adjusted.
A version of this article was originally published on April 19, 2011
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