How to Create an Action Plan That Will Get You Remarkable Results
Are you an advice hoarder? A podcast listener, reader of blogs, participant of online courses, over enthusiastic email list subscriber, pinner of absolutely everything you come across on your particular passion (my Pinterest likes for 'reading later' are often up over 200 but I still can't stop myself liking more!)
If you read Monday's blog post you now know how to find online business advice that's perfect for your business. Buuuuut, while having vast amounts of epic business advice won't do you any harm it is of no use if you never do anything about any of it! It's time to put it to good use for your business.
It's time to stop reading. And watching. And listening (don't panic - not forever!) It's time to start strategising!
You can create a strategy for anything (think email list, social media, marketing) and the main steps are the same regardless of what type of strategy you're making. You can create broad or narrow strategies, eg: a social media strategy or a Pinterest strategy but the more detailed and focused your plan, the better thought out and easier it will be to carry out.
It's time to start strategizing
Step 1: Define your end goal
What sort of strategy are you creating? And why are you creating it? What end result are you aiming for?
Don't be vague about your answers. Don't just make a 'social media strategy' to 'get more followers'. What do you want those followers to do? Are you looking to increase engagement, encourage your new followers to read your blog, or send them to a specific landing page on your website?
Who is the target audience for this particular strategy? Are you looking for new customers? Are you wanting to convert casual but regular visitors to customers? Are you looking to raise awareness of your brand within your niche? Decide who you are wanting to target now and deciding how you are going to target them will be easier.
And because I love planning and creating strategies (and I love you too, super blog reader (mwah)), I made you a Free 7-page Small Business Strategy (practically a) mini workbook!
Step 2: Gather your information
Now it's time to put all that information gathering expertise to good use! If you are a particularly enthusiastic information gatherer you might want to put a time limit on the research stage! Or write down the questions you want answered and stop researching when you have your answers.
Gather your information from a variety of sources:
- Other bloggers and small businesses in your niche
- Big businesses in your niche
- Ask in Twitter chats or Facebook groups you participate in
- Stalk your competitors! (Want to know how another small business gets so much Facebook engagement? Follow them and find out!)
- If your target audience is people who already social media followers or email subscribers, create a survey and ask their opinions. You can create free surveys at SurveyMonkey or Typeform.
- Is someone you follow particularly amazing at whatever it is you're trying to do? Send them an email, tweet them, comment on their blog and ask advice! The worst they can do is ignore you and you won't be any worse off than if you didn't ask in the first place
- Look for inspiration from other BusinessMums in different niches. Looking to create a Pinterest strategy for your digital art prints? Have a look at what someone selling physical prints is doing. Or a different digital printable like party invitations
Gather your research into a filing system that makes sense to you! You could use
- Secret Pinterest boards
- A physical filing system and print your information
- Digital storage such as Google drive
Wherever you store it, label it clearly and sort it into clearly defined subjects
Step 3: Analyse your research
Now you need to decide what information, tips, advice and how to's you've collected you want to act on.
Take notes (personally I'm a pen and paper sort of a person but many people swear by Evernote for digital note - taking) Ask yourself and write down the answers to the following questions
- How are other people in your niche doing whatever it is you want to be doing?
- Are there any recurring recommendations?
- Are there any definite no-nos?
Keep your target audience and end goals in mind and ignore any advice you come across that isn't relevant to either of them. If it's relevant to one or the other, keep it, you might be able to adapt it.
You can also ignore advice you just don't like! If you think it sounds spammy or salesy or against your ethics it doesn't matter who said it works. You need to be working in a way that is true to your business and brand.
Step 4: Actually plan your strategy
Now you know what others are doing and how people recommend you do it, now you need to decide how you're going to do it!
- Take what others have done and ask yourself how can you do it better?
- How can you do something differently to make your approach stand out?
- How can you specifically target your niche audience?
- What do you like about a particular brand's approach to what it is you're doing? And why do you like it? Is it the visuals, the content type, the overall tone and philosophy?
- What do you not like and why? What would you never do to your target audience?
When you create your plan record what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.
- What apps, tools, automation services are you going to use?
- When are you going to do it? Set a start and end date and plan daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
Step 5: Implement your strategy
The most important thing when implementing is to keep to the plan! Do not be tempted to carry on researching that particular thing so you end up making little tweaks here and there.
- To keep on track with your plan use automation apps and software when possible.
- Batch tasks together and get content created in advance so there's no last minute panics to get stuff done
- Keep at it even if it doesn't seem to be working straight away. I would suggest a minimum of a month before making any changes.
For more exclusive advice (and worksheets / workbooks!) on small business strategy and planning (and other small business things like marketing, organisation and content planning!) join us at The Badass BusinessMum's Club for weekly lessons delivered straight to your inbox (you also get your Free, Exclusive 69-page 'Focus. Plan. Streamline: A Productivity Workbook' straight away as a thank you for signing up)
Step 6: Review your results
The only way to know if your strategy is working is to review your results (which is why you have to set targets!)
If you are hitting your targets - aren't you a clever clogs! keep at it! Continue to review your results regularly (eg: monthly) to keep track of your progress and make changes when you need to.
Consider adapting your successful strategy for a different business goal with the same target market or the same target market but a different business goal.
If you aren't hitting your targets you have to ask why.
- Were your expectations realistic? If you are making progress but at a slower rate than you hoped can you simply do more of what you're doing to hit your target.
- Are you targeting the right people in the right way? If you're unsure of which tactic to try use A/B testing which is trying out two ideas at the same time to see which is most successful. Try different images, different call to actions, different text, different social media platforms - whatever is appropriate for your particular aims.
Make measurable changes and return to the implementation phase for at least a month again before reviewing the difference your changes have made.
To recap the stages of your business strategies:
- Set a goal and a target market
- Research successful (and not successful!) strategies and advice
- Analyse your research
- Make a plan
- Implement your plan
- Review periodically
By creating targeted strategies that you review regularly you will be making sure the work you are doing for your business will get you maximum results for your efforts.
Time to Take Action! Download and use the Free Badass Business Strategy worksheets and define your aims, analyse your research, create your strategy and track your results for your next awesome business goal!
For more in-depth Action Planning Advice, an Actionable Project plus a discussion forum, join me in my Skillshare Class, How to Turn Ambitious Goals into an Action Plan that Gets Results.
The 30-minute, Mom-schedule-friendly class covers:
- The 6 Elements of an Effective Action Plan
- How to break down your goals into Actionable Steps
- How to fill in your Knowledge Gaps to make your Action Plan fully Functionable
- How to Effectively Schedule your Action Plan to Get Stuff Done
- How to use your Action Plan to make your Business more Efficient & Effective
Sign up using my referral link to get a month's Free Premium Skillshare Membership for only $0.99.