In this post, we’ll prioritize the actions steps to transform your business. These action steps will come from the issues and gaps you uncovered when you evaluated your current situation. Now we’re really getting into the plan for the next 12 months.
To recap where we’ve been and to preview where we’re going, here are the six steps to create your plan.
- Get clear on your vision for the business 12 months from now
- Honestly assess the current state of your business
- Prioritize the actions that will get you from where you are to where you want to be and create a short list of goals
- Break those goals down into quarterly goals and monthly actions
- Empower your team to own and track the results
- Document your process and adapt to the unexpected
While it is easy to think that all the issues you found are important, trying to address them all is recipe for failure. This is true for two reasons.
First, it is unlikely that you have the time, money, and resources to address everything at once. That will force you to cut corners on your efforts to fix things. Cutting corners gets you disappointing results, or worse, new problems. You will be much, much more effective if you focus on one thing at a time.
Second, it just isn’t true that everything is equally important. There will always be one issue that causes more pain, costs more money, or has a higher ROI on fixing it than another. If you think through the problems you identified, you will trace several of them back to same root cause. Fixing that root cause should be a high priority, since it will solve several problems at once.
Ways to set your priorities
Now that we agree you need to prioritize the list, lets go over a few ways you can do that.
You will have a gut feeling about what is most important. You should pay attention to that feeling, but confirm it with data. For each of the issues and gaps you identified, ask yourself these questions:
For issues and problems:
- How much did this problem cost me in actual expenditures, lost sales, and employee time?
- How unhappy or stressed does this problem make me? My employees? My customers?
- How much time, money, or effort will fixing this problem save?
- Will fixing this problem directly lead to more sales?
For gaps between where you are and where you want to be:
- How much can I close the gap by doing this?
- Will addressing this make it easier to address other issues?
- Does this have to be done before I can tackle other items?
- Do I have the money, resources, or skills to do this today?
To answer these questions, you will have to dig into your financial records, talk to employees, and talk to customers. That is going to take some time and effort, but is an important part of focusing you on the right things.
Creating the Priority List
We’re going to create the priority list in two passes.
Pass 1: Initial ranking of issues
First, go back to the ratings you gave yourself for each of the 7 areas and rank them from the lowest score to the highest score. Then, fill in specific issues or gaps under each area. You will find these in your answers to the ‘why’ questions from step 2.
When you’ve done this, you will have a list that looks something this:
- Lowest scoring area
- issue/gap #1
- issue/gap #2
- Issue/gap #3
- 2nd lowest scoring area
- issue/gap #1
- issue/gap #2
- issue/gap #3
- 3rd lowest scoring area
- issue/gap #1
- issue/gsp #3
You may or may not have 3 items in each area. Make those sub-lists as long or short as they need to be.
Pass 2: Final prioritization
Now, look at the list you’ve created and evaluate each of the items using the questions I listed above. Narrow your longer list down to a ranked list of the 10 most important things to do in the next 12 months. You might also want to get some outside help compiling your top 10 list. This is a good thing to talk to a coach about.
But wait, you listed more than 10 things in the first pass. What about them?
Making 10 key changes to advance your business in a year is an accomplishment. You still have to run the business day-to-day while you are building the business.
When you finish one item, pull out your longer list and add the most important item from it to the bottom of your top ten list. More on that in step 6.
When you finish the tasks in this post, all the major components of your plan will be in place.
You can think of your business development as a journey. We’ve decided where we want to go (step 1). Figured out where we are starting from (step 2). We’ve plotted the basic route from start to finish (step 3).
Next, we’re going to break the top 10 items down into smaller parts and decide on the intermediate milestones. Using the journey comparison, we’ll decide how far we want to travel each day and pick out a more exact route.
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