It's Time to Jump!

Now that we've identified the strengths of your small business (February) and discussed how to create a game plan that makes the most of those strengths (March), it's time to put that game plan into action.

Step 3. Execute and evolve that plan, and continue to build momentum.

Your game plan will be unique to your business, industry and personality type. Whether you're playing Monopoly, chess or LIFE (see March column), your plan can succeed only if it's actually carried out.

Who hasn't heard the riddle about the toads on a log? Three toads are sitting on a log and decide to jump off. So, how many toads are still left on the log? Three; they all decided to jump, but none of them took an action.

First, we have to presuppose that in your plan (strategic plan, marketing plan, communications plan, growth plan…), you've broken down your large objectives into smaller goals, and then gone one level (or more) deeper to turn those smaller goals into detailed tasks.

If you hadn't gone to that level of detail, now's the time to do it. Go ahead; I'll wait.

{{Imagine easy listening elevator music here.}}

Stumped? Okay, let's see if this helps.

Let's say that your main objective is to grow your widget sales by 10% within the next 5 years. In order to reach that target, your goal is to grow your current client base by 15% (to account for attrition and economic fluctuations). And in order to reach that goal, you've identified three tasks:

  • Ask five of your current clients for one referral each.
  • Attend one additional trade show in the next 18 months to promote your new widget design.
  • Publish a bylined article in the trade journal for the American Widget Association.

This example is overly simplified, but do you see how it works? Start with a big-picture objective, then create real, achievable tasks to help get you there.

Since we have our handy widget example, let's use that to illustrate our final step of this process:

  • Execute: Now is the time that you'll need your task lists. There's no hard-and-fast rule for where to start on your list…sometimes it makes sense to start with the easiest ones that you can quickly take care of…other times a task may require some advance planning and you need to work on that one first.

For instance, in our list above, I might suggest working on the trade show first. To secure a booth space for an upcoming event, you'll probably need to research industry shows, find out which ones are most popular with potential widget clients, decide how much space you'll need (if any), estimate the cash outlay so you can apportion resources, and more.

And I typically ask a client for referrals in person (that kind of favor is something you can usually bring up at the end of a meeting or over lunch), so this task will probably take several weeks to complete.

Writing an article can be a time commitment for you and for your editor/proofreader, so it's helpful to have those resources set aside before you begin.

  • Evolve: Keep in mind that your plan will never be enshrined in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Schoolchildren and tourists will never parade past a glass-enclosed case, point at your masterpiece and whisper in awed tones, "I can't believe I'm so close to this piece of history."

Your plan is a working document; it should have scribbles, scratches and a revision date. You should discuss it with a trusted team of advisors to get their thoughts and opinions. You should be willing to
hear objections to your ideas (even if you don't act on them.)

Just as your business has (most likely) changed from what you originally envisioned, your plan will grow, morph and adapt to fit your needs, aspirations and ideas. And that's a good thing. If people didn't change and evolve to suit changing conditions, we'd never have invented air conditioning or developed the technology to cram pre-formed biscuits into a pop-open can.

  • Build Momentum: Remember that motivation you had when you started your business? That nagging thought that wouldn't go away…the idea that stuck in your head saying you just might be able to make a go of this crazy idea…?

That's what working this plan can do for you. It can motivate you to take charge of your destiny just as you did when you stopped working for someone else and took a chance by working for yourself. Creating a plan that takes your biggest aspirations and carves them into manageable tasks puts you in the driver's seat, ensuring that you're doing what you can to build this business.

So, have you jumped off the log yet? Email me at adamatgladworks.com and let me know where you land.

Next month, we'll talk about some tactics for motivating and managing your employees.