How to get it RIGHT this time

We all tend to start the year with totally inspiring resolutions to transform businesses or careers. Experts choose to change jobs or launch a new business, solopreneurs decide to grow, founders resolve to find new markets, CEOs go for new and ambitious goals to improve their organizations… We confidently throw ourselves into the new venture with tremendous inertia, which surges from a new purpose. Nevertheless, we tend to start working on it using old methods and ambiguous strategies. Unfortunately, old habits and impreciseness don’t bring new results.

Setting a new goal is just the beginning of a change journey. It would be best if you had more… You need a realistic plan for that new milestone in your business or personal life.

If goal setting is your WHAT, an action plan is your HOW.

Once you’ve defined the goal you want to pursue, ask yourself what exact actions and activities you have to undergo to achieve it. In doing so, you will probably discover that you need to fine-tune your goal further to make it more realistic and achievable.

Let me give you a few examples to bring in some clarity.

Growing your business

Following this method, let’s see how Pete (fictitious character) deploys the vision for his business – Venturist (a fictitious company).

Vision ➡ goal ➡ roadmap/milestones ➡ metrics ➡ action plan

Vision: Take Venturist to the next level – become a niche market leader.
Goal: Increase Venturist market share from 12 to 25% within three years.
Milestones:

  • Take products XYZ from Beta to Production and Live release
  • Grow inorganically by the acquisition of startups
  • Consolidate growth by streamlining operations
  • Implement a robust CRM system
  • Grow team proactively ahead of the increase of workload (from XX to XXX)
  • Outsource marketing with partner ‘Y’.

 

Metrics:

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
  • Customer churn rate (CCR)
  • Revenue growth rate
  • Revenue churn rate (RCR)
  • Organic Traffic & Leads
  • Operating Margins
  • Cash flow

Action plan:

  • Take products XYZ from Beta to Production and Live release
    • Product stabilization
    • Release to manufacturing
  • Grow inorganically by acquisitions 
    • Business valuation of prospects
    • Financing
    • Contract advisor firm
  • Consolidate growth by streamlining operations 
    • As-Is, To-be and gap analysis of processes and assets
    • Implement KPI’s, metrics, governance model and R&R
    • Standardize and automate workflows
    • Implement kanban systems for TI, Sales and Suppliers
  • Implement a robust CRM system
    • Select partner
    • Start process introduction in XX
  • Grow team proactively to increase of workload (from XX to XXX)
    • Calculate needed headcount for growth
    • Develop career paths
    • Select partner for recruiting
  • Outsource marketing with partner ‘Y’
    • Select partner
    • Define marketing strategy.

This High-level action plan becomes the HOW for Pete to achieve his goal. You can develop this plan entirely independently as a business owner or manager. However, work with your team to brainstorm ideas and further deploy them. And share your progress with all your stakeholders. It will help you control the resistance to change you will face along the way. Business growth is a result of joint effort and teamwork.

Career change

Let’s take a look at a different scenario. Let’s see how Lili will organize herself to achieve a career change (in this case, an ambitious promotion). She is currently working as a graphic designer in one of the product teams in the fashion company Zanderly. Recall the working method:

Vision ➡ goal ➡ roadmap/milestones ➡ metrics ➡ action plan

Vision: Get promoted to Head of Design
Beware of setting goals that someone else has power over, not you. For example, “Get that promotion!” depends on who else applies and on the recruiter’s decision. But “Get the experience and training that I need to be considered for that promotion” is entirely down to you (detailed guide for goal setting).
Goal: I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to become head of design within my organization in 3 years.
Milestones: 

  • Take fundamental training courses on fashion
  • Assist to the suitable fashion events 
  • Gaining experience in teamwork and project management
  • Gain social exposure

Metrics:

  • Number of courses completed
  • Number of projects I am part of 
  • Number of IG followers
  • Volunteering and being accepted for promotion

Action plan:

  • Take fundamental training courses on fashion
    • Textile paint
    • Fashion photography
  • Assist to the suitable fashion events
    • Bread and butter
    • London fashion show
    • Parish fashion show 
  • Gaining experience in teamwork and project management
    • Volunteer for All Hands Fashion project
    • Get involved in the project management team
  • Gain social exposure
    • Join an online community for charitable events sponsored by the fashion industry
    • Post frequently on IG and Pinterest
    • Participate in Live talks about fashion trends

This High-level action will become the HOW for Lili to achieve his goal. As her goal is less dependent on a team (she does not have one yet), she can work alone. However, Lili has to manage it carefully with stakeholders (colleagues, her boss); her progress depends greatly on them. Also, she has to monitor the employment market to benchmark herself against other potential candidates and thus keep her profile on a competitive edge. 

Having a plan is a way to prepare for success. So, back up your goal with a well thought but flexible schedule that includes all actions to get it done your way.