How to Create a 90-Day Business Action Plan

Business plans are important. They play different roles in your business. For some you need a business plan for getting financed, for example. If you’re applying for start-up business loan, chances are the bank will ask you to submit a business plan and they may even give you a business plan template to complete. The shame of it is that you'll go through the process and put the effort in to get the loan, but then you won’t ever refer to that plan again. Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it.

There are a lot of different templates out there. It’s not the finished plan that matters most, it’s probably the journey you go through completing the plan, answering the questions. ‘What is my market? What is my competition? What are my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? What am I looking to get out of it?’ That type of plan is a very important thing for you to do in your business, but it’s not a day-to-day operational plan. It just helps you understand more about what you’re trying to achieve, what’s likely to help you get there, and what might stop you from getting there.

A 90 day Action Plan is going to help you get stuff done this quarter.

Tip #1: Have an overall Business Plan

Here are five tips to effectively use a 90 day plan in your business, and tip one is to have a larger plan. Have an overall plan. Now the 90 day plan is going to be very detailed, it’s going to have a lot of detail as to what you need to do. The larger plan doesn't need to have that. It just has to have an overall view of where you’re going. Suppose your goal is to climb Mount Everest – at 8848 meters high, it’s a very tall mountain, and to get to the top of that, you’re going to need a plan.

Even if you were thinking about thinking about climbing Mount Everest, you would probably start with a bit of planning. You might google ‘how tall is it, how hard is it, what gear do I need, what time of year should I go?’ You’ll be starting to think about it. Whilst you’re thinking about it on that level, all you’re thinking about is the summit, the very top of Mount Everest. The same thing is true in your business. That larger plan, you’re thinking about what’s the summit? What’s the top of my business? What level is that? Is it 3 million a year, 5 million, 10 million, 40 million? What is it that I’m aiming to achieve long term? What is my long term goal of my larger plan?

Tip #2: Do it every 90 days

Tip number two, and it isn't that profound, you need to do it every 90 days. So every quarter start a new 90 day plan, a plan of action that helps you achieve your goals. Let’s go back to Mount Everest for a second. If you were climbing Mount Everest, would you be worried about the last three steps or the first three steps on day one? Well of course you’re going to worry about the first three steps. The last three aren't going to matter unless you make it up there. The same thing is true in your business.

It’s no use worrying about what your business is going to need or do in five years’ time. It’s good to know where you’re heading and be prepared for what might happen, but you need to know what’s happening today and you need to plan for what’s happening today. Your 90 day plan gets done every 90 days, and it’s a step-by-step plan. Imagine stacking a series of ladders up Mount Everest. At 8,848 meters high, if you climb 12 meters a day, divide 8,848 by 12 and you'll come pretty close to two years. It’s around 730 days or thereabout. The point is, if you climb just 12.1 meters a day, you would get to the top of Mount Everest in two years if you did that every single day. Climbing 12.1 meters a day is easy. The whole idea of a 90 day Action Plan is to say, ‘What do I have to do today that’s going to help me achieve that long term goal. How many sales do I need? What systems do I need to implement? What equipment will I need? How many people do I need to hire? Who do I need to train?’ etc.

Tip #3: Don't put too much in

Tip number three is not to try and put too much in. Because what happens is you’ll be overwhelmed. Once that happens, there’s a good chance you’ll just crash without continuing with the plan. Remember, your plan is never going to be an exact science. Think of it like a train timetable. Just because the timetable says the train coming at 7am doesn't mean it’s going to arrive at 7am, but at least you’ve got a rough idea. The same applies with your plan. Try to stick to a fairly consistent pattern of what is achievable and what is realistic. If you start cramming too many things in, trying to get to the top too fast, you’ll struggle. You’ll fall over. It’s simple. You’ll run out of energy, you might even run out of cash. You’ve probably heard of businesses going out of business because they grew too fast. These things can happen pretty easily if you’re not ready for them. So don’t load too much up in your plans, that’s tip number three.

Tip #4: Have a new ideas board or book

Let’s face it, most of us come up with new ideas all the time for our business, it’s why we’re in business for ourselves in the first place. You’ve set your 90 day plan for the quarter, and suddenly a new idea crops up, ‘You won’t believe it! I went to this seminar, I read this book, I saw this on the Internet this new great thing. I want to do this straight away. I want to get this done tomorrow.’

Before taking your eye off the ball, put it on the ideas board, and look at it for next quarter. Because if you've already set sail for that period, it’s no good trying to do other things or go to other destinations. It sort of ties in with number three of not doing too much, number four is have a new ideas board or book. It could be a shared folder on Google Drive. Just come up with a way you can park those ideas.

New ideas can be super exciting on the day you have them, then two months down the line you realize it wasn't such a great idea after all. An ideas board will help control the impulse, giving you time to think about that strategy and evaluate whether or not it’s going to work in your business. Sometimes that excitement can die off, and you realize that it was a stupid idea, we’re all guilty of it.

Tip #5: Have somebody hold you accountable

Without having someone to hold you accountable, a lot of things, especially the scary ones, often don’t get done. I suggest though, that you don’t make it your friend, neighbour, wife/husband or the person that cuts your hair. Make it somebody who is completely independent, and even better, pay them. As soon as you’re parting with your hard-earned dollars to get an accountability call or a coaching session with your accountant or a business coach, you’re more likely to respect that relationship.

So get yourself a mentor or even a business coach, give them the copy of the plan, and give them permission to kick your ass if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do. Because the only way you’re going to succeed and get everything implemented is with a little bit of pushing. If you’re not stretching your comfort zone, well then what you’re trying to achieve is probably not big enough. 

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