Writing a Business Plan - Implementation Plan
Getting from A to B
Even the most well-thought-out business plan is just a stack of paper if it isn’t coupled with clear guidelines on your path toward implementation of the business plan.
Your implementation plan is the section of your greater business plan, where you’ll clarify objectives, assign tasks with deadlines, and chart your progress toward reaching goals and milestones that'll signal the growth of your business.
Here are the four key guidelines for successful implementation of a business plan:
1. Defining Clear Objectives:
Your objectives should be crystal clear and specifically spelled out, since you’ll use them as a building block for the rest of the implementation plan. For example, let’s assume your startup is a small consulting firm. Your objective should be tough but reachable, and could read something like this:
- Secure office space and be open for business in three months.
- Sign three clients within first three months of operations.
- Sign 10 clients within the first year.
Setting the right goals and objectives for implementation of your business plan will push you to show up and perform every day. If you don't set goals that challenge you on a daily basis, it's easy to stagnate in your business and simply drift along doing ok. Your objectives are where hopes and ideas are translated into action.
2. Breaking Them Down Into Tasks:
This part of your business implementation plan details what must be accomplished, in order to achieve your greater objectives.
Include a task manager for each step, so that roles are clearly defined and there is accountability.
As you create well-defined tasks and assignments for yourself, these descriptions should be plainly and generally stated; don’t get into a step-by-step, micromanaged explanation of how the tasks will be carried out.
Instead, emphasize the expected results associated with these tasks. Continuing with the above example, the tasks section of your implementation plan might look like this:
- Secure office space – real estate agent
- Obtain licenses and permits – you
- Set up office phones and computers – office manager
- Begin recruiting clients – sales manager
- Create marketing collateral – marketing manager
- Solicit referrals from clients – relationship manager
This list is obviously very specific to this particular firm and is a brief illustration. You may wish to go into more details, assigning tasks to yourself such as obtaining financing, networking with prospective clients, and so on.
3. Allocating Time:
In order to determine how realistic your implementation plan is, each task must be paired with an appropriate time frame for completion. Some tasks will naturally take more time than others, so do your best to set realistic estimates. If you're treading into unknown territory with any part of your plan, it's your responsibility to do the research, track down instructional resources that'll help you through implementation, or find a partner, mentor or contractor with more direct experience to help execute.
You should be aggressive but reasonable with your time allocation in order to ensure not just completion, but also competent work.
For assistance in framing this timescale, use a program such as Microsoft Project, or create your own Gantt chart – a helpful tool that shows how long it will take to complete different tasks and in which order the tasks should be finished.
4. Making Progress:
You or a member of your management team needs to be in charge of monitoring each task’s progress and the completion percentage of each objective, if you hope to successfully implement your business plan without delay.
When delays do occur however, try to get to the root of the problem. Did the person responsible drop the ball? Did he or she have too many responsibilities to handle? Did a third party, such as a supplier or the bank, fail to hold up its end of a deal? Adjust your Gantt chart appropriately to account for the delay, make a note of the previous deadline and the reason it was missed.
While the above steps may seem like overkill, the early days of implementation in a startup are critically important; it’s a time when good management patterns are set and also probably a lean era when revenue has yet to start rolling in. The more efficiently you start implementing your business plan, the more likely it is that you will survive this early period.