Business coaches and resources often focus on the importance of goal setting, but that’s only part of a bigger topic. Setting the best possible goals for your small pet business isn’t going to help you achieve success if you do nothing with them. You need a solid action plan to achieve goals.
If this is the first time that you’re hearing about a business action plan, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about action plans including what they are, why they are important for your business success, and how to create one step-by-step. So, grab a coffee, and let’s get to work!
What is an Action Plan?
Let’s start with the basics – what exactly is an action plan? An action plan is a detailed list of the resources, tasks, and action steps to achieve goals for your business. It’s the specific method by which you intend on reaching the goals that you have set for yourself and your business.
While the goals identify WHAT you want to accomplish, your action plan describes HOW to perform the work necessary to get there.
The components of a well-crafted action plan include:
- Specific and detailed goals
- The tasks or steps needed to reach your goals, organized based on priority
- Deadlines for each step
- A list of resources required
- Ways to measure your progress and set checkpoints
If you have multiple people on your team, you will also need to include which team member is responsible for each of the tasks in your plan. This will not only make it clear to each person what they need to do, but it will also allow for accountability within your team.
Why is an Action Plan Important for Your Small Pet Business?
Whether you are a team of 10 or a solopreneur, an action plan is an important tool for moving your business forward. It gives you the opportunity to identify the strategies to achieve goals and objectives, allowing you to have a clear path forward.
A well-crafted plan is also a great way to eliminate busy work. These are the tasks that keep us occupied, making us feel like we are working hard without actually moving us forward in the business. Instead, you can focus your attention (or your whole team’s attention) as well as any resources that you have available within your business on tasks that offer the best return on your investment.
8 Steps to Create an Action Plan to Achieve Your Goals
Now that we have defined a business action plan and identified the reasons why you need to plan to achieve goals within your business, it’s time to get started! Here are the basic steps required to craft a plan for success in your small pet business.
Step One: Get into the Right Mindset for Planning
Before you start any planning within your business, you should take a moment to make sure that you have the right mindset. This means clearing your mind of negative thoughts and limiting beliefs. Remind yourself of the reasons why you started your business, how much you have accomplished to this point, and how capable you are to continue achieving great things – because you are!
If you’re struggling with this step, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re in our BlogPaws Facebook Community, we invite you to share any struggles you may have with this there. We are happy to be your cheerleaders, helping you see the incredible things the rest of us see when we look at your business.
Step Two: Set SMART Goals
Before creating an action plan to achieve goals in your business, you want to make sure that you have set good goals that will help to propel you forward.
While there are several great goal-setting approaches out there in the business world, we highly recommend the use of SMART goal-setting. This means setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Avoid vague goals that make it impossible to identify if you are making progress as well as those with no set deadline.
An example of a SMART goal would be: “I want to increase my email subscriber list by 100 people by the end of Q1 2023 by introducing a new trick training eBook that will be promoted using a pop-up on my website.”
Step Three: Create a List of Tasks Required
Now that you have identified your destination, it’s time to figure out what steps you will need to take to get there. This includes recognizing each of the smaller tasks that you will need to complete to work towards your larger mission. You want to break down the process of working on your goal into small and easy-to-manage tasks.
Returning to our previous goal example of growing our email list, your tasks may look something like this:
- Select 15 different dog training tricks to include in the eBook
- Write out how to train each trick step by step
- Take photographs showcasing each step of the training
- Write an introduction, summary, and short bio for the eBook
- Design the eBook in Canva, pulling all this information together
- Edit the final book
- Ask a friend to review the book and make necessary updates
- Upload the finished eBook to my website
- Create a pop-up email sign-up promoting the eBook using my mail client
- Go live on my website with the pop-up
In this example, you may even want to break down tasks specific to each of the 15 tricks individually, especially if you are part of a team of dog trainers working together on this project. This can also be a helpful approach for those that struggle to stay on task. You may get distracted working on photographing 15 tricks, forgetting to return and complete the rest. But a single trick can be photographed all at once ensuring that it has been completed before moving on.
Step Four: Prioritize and Organize Your List
There are two different ways that you can look at this step depending on the goal(s) that you are working towards. If your task list has a clear step-by-step process, you can organize your list based on the order you need to work through it. In our example, you would need to write the content and take photos before you could finalize your eBook and promote it on your website.
Some goals will have several different tasks that could be done in any order as long as they are all finished by the set date for your goal. In these situations, try ranking each of your tasks with a number from 1 to 5 based on how important you believe they are for the bigger goal. Organize your task list with all the 1’s (most important) at the beginning through to the 5’s (least important) at the end.
A long list of tasks to complete can be overwhelming. By organizing and prioritizing your list, you make it far easier to see exactly where you should be focusing your attention. This will help you avoid wasting time trying to figure out what to work on at any given time.
Step Five: Set Reasonable Deadlines
Keep yourself on track as you work through each of these tasks with deadlines. Make sure that you are realistic when deciding on your deadlines. This means recognizing and being honest with yourself about how much time you have to commit to working through this. For example, if you only have 2 hours per week to dedicate to this goal, it wouldn’t be realistic to expect yourself to write all the content for all 15 tricks in week 1.
Studies have found that people are generally good at sticking to meaningful self-imposed deadlines. But this is a point in the process where you need to consider how you work best. If you know that outside accountability is necessary, consider working with an accountability partner to keep one another on track.
Step Six: List All Required Resources
Take a moment to consider everything that you are going to need to complete each task. This could include online tools or phone apps, physical supplies, the use of specific locations, or the assistance of key people. By doing this, you can be sure that you have everything you need before starting on a task improving both your productivity and your chance of success.
Returning to our trick training eBook example, your list of resources may include things like Canva for eBook creation, a photographer to document you working with your dog, props for your tricks, training treats, and a pop-up builder.
Step Seven: Create Milestones or Check-Ins
We already established when setting your SMART goals that they need to be measurable. But you shouldn’t wait until your final deadline to check on your progress. Instead, set some milestones or check-ins to assess how things are going. For example, if you are working towards a 90-day goal, you may want to do 30-day check-ins.
These are set times when you are going to take a “snapshot” of your progress. This means recording all the data, analytics, and other information you are tracking for your goal at that moment. If you are working with an accountability partner, this may mean sharing your progress with them.
Step Eight: Track, Analyze, and Reassess at Each Check-In
A plan of action to achieve a goal isn’t written in stone. Don’t just record data at your check-ins. Instead, you want to take this opportunity to analyze this information and decide whether the plans you have set are working.
If you notice you aren’t progressing as fast as you had hoped, this doesn’t mean that you are failing. It may mean that there are some small changes you need to make moving forward to improve your progress. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, it could mean that your goal wasn’t large enough and you’re going to hit it long before your deadline.
Some ways you can update your goal or action plan during a check-in include:
- Changing deadlines
- Adding, removing, or altering the steps you identified
- Refocusing your priorities
- Switching or adding to the data you are tracking
- Reworking the goal itself
Don’t Forget to Celebrate Your Wins!
Take some time to celebrate any accomplishments or progress along the way. After all, you’ve worked hard! For those that need a little motivation to stick to their action plan, you may want to set rewards for your check-ins, giving yourself permission to recognize the work you have completed to that point. This will help you maintain the positive mindset needed to continue working towards your bigger goals.
Do you have a process that you follow when you plan to achieve goals? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!
About the Author: Britt Kascjak is a freelance writer and content creator with a background in digital and social media marketing. In addition to being the BlogPaws Director of Content & SEO, she also runs her own personal blogs Shed Happens, The Kas Pack, and Lucifer the Rescue Pup. When she’s not working, she can be found volunteering in the rescue space, camping, hiking, canoeing, or spending time with her 3 dogs and 2 cats.