It doesn’t have to take forever to write a business action plan to increase cash flow and profit. When you have a template to follow, it can be a relatively quick, and very useful process.
The easy way to write a business action plan
This is the business action plan I used to grow and develop my small company into a very profitable and successful small business. It can be easily adapted to suit any small business.
I created a new action plan for my business before the start of each new financial year. Using my plan, I moved the business forward every year towards my ultimate goal.
I’ll show you every step I took to build my business into a valuable asset. An asset that someone wanted to buy.
How to get started on your business action plan
Use this checklist of what you’ll need to get started on your business action plan.
- The thoughts and ideas you have after completing a SWOT analysis (the overview of where you are now, your marketplace, and the opportunities you’ve decided to pursue)
- Estimate of growth in sales you want this year
- Estimate of $$ profit you want to make this year
- Current financial results: sales, expenses, and profit
- A quiet room to concentrate on your business action plan
- A pre-prepared business action plan template (more details below)
Two ways to make the planning process easier
- Have an objective supportive person with you, ideally with experience in Excel (although it’ll work with lined paper and a calculator)
- Use an image projector to make things clear and easy to see(if you don’t have one, hire, borrow, beg – it’s worth it)
Using my business action plan excel spreadsheet, I worked through the planning process in a quiet room with my Finance Manager.
As I thought about what was possible for each month, the Finance Manager entered those figures in Excel which we projected onto a wall.
- Firstly we entered the sales figures that we thought reasonably achievable. Then we entered the corresponding ‘best estimate’ expenses.
- Like me, you’ll instantly be able to see the monthly outcome (the profit or loss). You might want to ‘tweak’ the sales and expenses in your action plan until they look reasonable and realistic. I did – continually!
- We continued to enter sales and expenses month by month until the whole year was complete.
It’s a brilliant process and one which gave us the blueprint to aim for and review progress, every month.
So let’s have a look in a little more detail.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher
Part 1. Sales
First project your desired sales (aka ‘revenue’ or ‘turnover’). With your annual profit goal in mind, begin to complete the first month of the financial year:
- Sales: Enter your ‘best estimate’ in $ sales.
How many sales will you need to make in the first month?
- The cost of Sales: Enter the $ figure that will be the direct cost of making the above sales (supply costs)?
- Gross Profit: The total of your monthly sales less the direct costs.
Part 2. Expenses
This is where you list your ‘best estimate’ of all the expected costs for the month.
- Use current expenses as a guide.
- Add as many new lines as you need.
- Use the ‘insert comment’ feature on any cell to record what is/isn’t included.
Part 3. Profit before tax
To get to your Net Profit:
1. Subtract your Total Expenses in part 2 from your Gross Profit in part 1
2. Net Profit is what’s left
3. Track your net profit as a % of your total sales. Benchmark against your industry average.
Complete your business action plan for each of the next 11 months. Make adjustments for any particular abnormalities.
Going through this exercise will super-focus your mind on what you want your business to achieve this year. You’ll get a sense of:
- What is possible and what is not
- What actions need to be taken each month
- Where you’ll need to spend your time
Your Business Action Plan will:
- Be your business action plan ‘blueprint’ for the year
- Show you where your focus needs to be each month
- Be your plan to move your business forward
- Act as your guide to a successful year
- Show you the path to achieve your business goals
You will find that going through this planning exercise really focuses the mind. It will help you crystallize your business goals for this year.
“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows” Ralph Marston, Author
Step #2 Implement your business action plan
Implement your plan and make it work for you. It’s for you to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
Step #3 Review your business action plan
For any plan to succeed it needs to be reviewed. Reviewing your action plan against your results is what makes your plan really powerful. This is where you have the opportunity to review, refocus and redirect.
Your business action plan to-do list
- List your opportunities from the SWOT analysis (to provide context for your estimates).
- Write down your financial goals for the business for the next 12 months.
- Find someone to work through the business development plan with you.
- Schedule a time to create the plan – undisturbed!
I wish you growth and success for many years after completing your business action plan.
To your business success!