35+ Sample Business Action Plan
What Is a Business Action Plan?
A business action plan is a comprehensive plan that outlines goals and details the ways and means on how to accomplish these goals. A business action plan can serve multiple purposes- from business growth and development to fiscal budgets.
According to an article published by Harvard Business Review, startup businesses and entrepreneurs who create formal plans are shown to be 16% more likely to achieve feasibility compared to non-planning entrepreneurs. Further, studies also showed that growth-oriented startup businesses were 7% more likely to plan; whereas, startups inclined more towards innovation had a slightly lower percentage of 4% likelihood to plan.
Tips For Creating a Better Business Action Plan
Depending on the needs of your business action plan, there can be many ways on how to improve it. Keep in mind the following tips the next time you are tasked to brainstorm or create a business action plan.
Hold people accountable. An effective business action plan contains more than just tactical plans and attainable goals. It must also highlight accountability and responsibility. When creating your business action plan, it might be a good idea to assign or delegate tasks for everyone in the team. Make sure to include the names and designations of team members for each action item. This not only helps promote accountability, but it allows members to contribute and develop a sense of solidarity and ownership if they feel that the success of the company depends on their contribution. The success of an individual would mean a lot more if it translates to the success of the entire team as well. The same goes for failures and mistakes as well. The point is not to emphasize the mistakes of one or to shift blame, but to establish a process where improvement and learning can be accorded efficiently. Ensure that goals are aligned. A good business action plan always begins with setting goals. This is easier said than done, of course. And if your organization size reaches the hundred or thousand mark, it can be quite challenging to align the different departmental goals. Thus, it should be stressed that alignment meetings should become a regular part of the overall action planning process. Creating a business action plan is rarely finished in one session. Sometimes it can take several meetings for a business plan to take shape. In addition to being time-sensitive, the business action planning process has to hurdle conflicting interests and juggle multiple priorities. With this in mind, it becomes all the more clear that the alignment of objectives ought to be settled right from the start. It may not be easy, but it is a necessary step for the smooth transition into the eventual creation of action items. Embrace flexibility. One common pitfall that many businesses fall into is the failure to remain flexible amidst challenges and obstacles. When entrepreneurs and businessmen become too rigid in their thinking and methodology, it usually ends up backfiring and the consequences can be quite dire. If a business action plan is to be effective and successful, then there must be an element of openness and fluidity. Yes, it is good to set high standards and clear-cut goals; however, one must also learn to embrace flexibility because the reality is that many plans do not always pan out the way people expect them to. Resilience is what will make a business thrive even when faced with problems and difficulties. In preparing to hit roadblocks and actually anticipating challenges, that is where flexibility and resilience are most valuable. Adapt to the times. Another essential tip to keep in mind when crafting a business action plan is to adapt to the times. The underlying premise of this is the acknowledgment that everything is fluid and always evolving or changing. In the context of business, it is wise to not just take this into consideration but to constantly keep it in mind. At the end of the day, nothing ultimately stays the same and innovation is crucial for business survival. Too many businesses and potential ideas fail because they are hesitant to change. Amidst fierce competition, they are left with no choice but to fold up because they are unable to or unwilling to keep up with the times. The remedy for this is investing and pouring the right resources into research and development. R&D is key in ensuring that companies and organizations not only discover new ways to improve and innovate, but to constantly adapt to an ever-changing world.
Reasons for Creating a Business Action Plan
Because of the broad definition of a business action plan, there can be dozens of reasons why companies feel the need to create a business action plan. The most common and universal reasons are enumerated and described below.
Business Expansion. One of the most common reasons why people need business action plans is because their goal is business expansion and growth. And even though luck may sometimes play a part in a business’ success, many companies and organizations still resort to creating concrete plans or rely on traditional strategizing and planning. Whether it is to rake in more profit, expand a professional network, boost brand recognition or simply to reach a wider range of customers, business expansion needs objectives and the right corresponding action items to go with it. With a business action plan, these expansion goals are properly documented, organized then subject to measurement and improvement. Reevaluation of Existing Business Processes. Another reason businesses create action plans is because they see a need for change or modification in their existing practices. Sometimes when a corporation or organization has been around for a considerable period of time, some practices, processes or even policies can become outdated and irrelevant. When these systems no longer serve the company, businesses can take it upon themselves to modify, add and even cancel existing policies. Business action plans simply serve as a blueprint to enact these changes. Regularly conducting reassessment and reevaluation of business processes can be essential to business growth and survival. When organizations acknowledge a need for change, it is basically a response to the changing times and circumstances around them. Alignment of Goals. A business action plan’s aim is usually to accomplish a common organizational goal. And most of the time, it is highly likely that there can be several goals and conflicting interests at the same time. In this case, one purpose of a business action plan is to lay out all these goals and prioritize accordingly. Especially if a company is big and established, all the more is there a need to align goals and objectives. Different departments may each have their own concerns, so it is critical for top management to take into consideration all these concerns and strategize accordingly to promote better coordination within the organization. Recovery From Losses. Some businesses find the need to craft a sound action plan when they have suffered losses or have run into an unexpected roadblock. No matter how much you plan for the right outcome, encountering problems and setbacks are usually inevitable. It is not easy to navigate challenging times; thus, businesses often talk about going ‘back to the drawing board’. What this essentially means is that they invest time and energy to regroup and come up with means and strategies to deal with the problems they are facing. For instance, when a company performs poorly for a fiscal year or suffers major losses in the market, it could be helpful to have a business action plan that specifically targets how to bounce back from a temporary slump.
How to Create a Business Action Plan
To create a comprehensive and effective business action plan, you first need to sit down as a team or department and brainstorm. This is a crucial step before actually drawing out your plans. Rarely do plans work out well if there is an absence of teamwork. You need to set aside ample time to meet and discuss among your members the best way to approach the creation of your business action plan. Once the ideas are ripe and ready, you can proceed to the actual drafting of the business action plan. Follow the basic step-by-guide below to get started.
Step 1: Set the Objectives
To start off your business action plan, you need to have a good grasp of your intentions and objectives. What is the main purpose of drafting your business action plan? Is it to grow your business? Do you intend to fix a major internal problem? Or maybe you are planning to restructure the entire organization from the ground up? Whatever your goals are, they need to be described and stated clearly. This first section of your action plan is key because at the end of the day, it ultimately sets the tone for the rest of the sections. Without an overarching goal, there could be a tendency to lose focus or get lost in the minutia or details of all the planning.
Step 2: Outline the Action Items
An action plan without action items ceases to be an action plan. The core of your business action plan ought to be the strategies and concrete actions that address your goals. The questions you should be asking for this particular section of your action plan are: How do I intend to realize the goals and objectives? What means can I use and resources can I mobilize in order to get the job done? Ideally, action items should be specific and measurable. The format of how you present these action items will depend on you. Using a table or chart is one possible way of organizing your action items in an orderly manner.
Step 3: Assign the Tasks
Once you have outlined your action items, the next step is assigning each item to a designated member of your team. This may vary according to the dynamics of the team, department or even the entire organization. More than just assigning the right person to execute the task, the act of delegating and sharing responsibility can help promote greater accountability. If your business action plan clearly assigns every member a certain role, then hopefully a sense of ownership will translate to a better outcome. In addition, assigning tasks to all members also can help foster a sense of solidarity and purpose when everyone is contributing towards realizing a shared goal.
Step 4: Provide Success Indicators
Another crucial step in creating a business action plan is ensuring that you are able to measure any tangible results of your action plans. In other words, there must be a series of success indicators put in place that will enable you to determine whether or not your business action plans are working. Having success indicators is crucial in measuring performance and monitoring the success of your plans. You need to establish a unit of measuring the success or progress made over the duration of your action plan. Some of these example rubrics could be the number of participants, profit margin, total revenue or turnover rate.
How do I write a business action plan?
In order to write a business action plan, you need to have the right objectives, concrete action items, a means to measure performance and productivity, and a progress monitoring tool. You can easily use any of the downloadable templates above to use as a guide for your own business action plan.
What is an action plan example?
One example of an action plan is a basic sales and marketing plan. Its most fundamental aim is to increase sales and improve marketing strategies. This type of plan not only requires clear-cut objectives, but concrete and measurable action.
What is a 3 point action plan?
According to Make UK, the three point action plan is simply: prepare, implement and lead.
Business action plans are vital in areas such as business development and project management. And it does not matter if you are a startup or a big company, having a solid action plan is necessary. Browse the sample templates above to start customizing your own business action plan now!