How to Write and Develop an Action Plan for Your Small Business

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6 min. read

Updated October 29, 2023

Taking action at the appropriate time is critical to turning your visions into a viable reality. However, doing so without a proper strategy can be a recipe for disaster. 

A well-designed and concrete action plan that weighs all the benefits and possible challenges is the key to executing your vision successfully. Furthermore, it makes tracking progress easier, which in turn helps you attain your goals. 

Whether it’s a business, personal, or career goal you are going after, the right action plan can be your roadmap to success. A comprehensive plan details all the information regarding your objectives and projects, such as the resources required, the complexity level of tasks, etc.

Let’s figure out how you can build one to achieve your goals successfully and efficiently.

  • What is an action plan and why is it important?

An action plan serves as a trajectory for the tasks or steps you need to accomplish to reach your goals and objectives. It is a crucial part of your strategic process that helps you improve teamwork planning significantly. Also, a proper action plan allows you to manage projects efficiently.

You have all the essential information in a centralized location that your team can access, making it easier for everybody to monitor progress and plan things successfully. As your company grows and circumstances change, you can revisit and make modifications to meet your latest requirements.

Planning of action items helps you prepare for any obstacles ahead. You’re your teams on track while ensuring impactful results. Furthermore, it also boosts your productivity and keeps everybody focused on urgent tasks.  

Here are some of the reasons why an action plan is vital for you:

  • It gives you a clear sense of direction by highlighting precisely the steps you need to take when you need to take that and what it will help you accomplish 
  • Having your objectives and goals on paper with structured steps keeps the team members motivated and dedicated throughout the project
  • You can gauge your and member’s progress and contribution toward the collective goals
  • You can turn your visions into reality, increase accountability and efficiency within your organization

How to create an effective action plan 

When it comes to creating an action plan, various practical methods and tools can help you develop a robust action program. Begin by following this straightforward 7-step strategy.

Following these steps for structuring your action plan incidentally also acts as a brilliant roadmap for your idea’s overall presentation and can effectively create a clear goal.

1. Define your scope

It is essential to define your scope, create a roadmap, and align it with your strategic planning . Make sure your actions guide you toward company goals. Start by gauging how your team members can contribute and help you achieve your objectives.

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

If you don’t have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, it might be challenging for you to plan a new initiative. Defining your current status and where you see your company helps you analyze the situation, explore potential solutions and implement strategies successfully.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) objectives or goals is a method of objective setting that enables employees and managers to set, monitor, and achieve their long-term and short-term goals. This approach brings tractability and structure together.

Once you map out your plan, scope, and aim to accomplish, the next step requires you to set well-defined goals and measurable tools. Create a template to highlight all the tasks that your team needs to perform and deadlines.

It is vital to make sure that your entire team is on the same page, involved in the process, and has access to the document. This way, the projects become manageable while also boosting team productivity.

Furthermore, ensure that the tasks are attainable. If you have more complex tasks, it’s essential to break them down into manageable parts for easy execution. 

3. Visualize your plan

Once you plan on the action items, prioritize tasks, and set milestones, the next step is creating a visual representation of your action plan. This visualization helps you engage your team and allow everyone to follow through to carry out activities.

A graphical presentation also makes it easier to get a bird’s eye view of your project. This way, you can identify your objectives and tasks that you weren’t able to execute or reach, allowing you to prioritize them to accomplish them.

You can elaborate your action plan with the help of a concept map that can help you explicitly communicate all the essential elements and information — task owners, tasks owners, resources, goals, objectives, deadlines, etc. Also, make sure the document is easily accessible to all. 

Additionally, you can also leverage online visual collaboration platforms to help you seamlessly visualize and structure your simple and complex concepts.

4. Prioritize your tasks

It is imperative to align all your activities with specific goals and assign them to relevant team members. When you list and prioritize all your tasks, it helps keep track of your projects’ status, progress, and completion. 

You could also structure your task list by importance. This way, everyone knows what needs to be done first to meet your deadlines effectively while ensuring that your employees can manage those tasks. That way, your team will also know their responsibilities and tasks to get done and engage them with a clear vision.

5. Set milestones 

Milestones are the objectives that your team aims to achieve to keep a specific project progressing at a steady pace. Your work will have a lot smoother flow when everybody is clear with goals.

When you set milestones , it serves as mini-goals that help you achieve your central goal towards the end. Adding milestones to your action plan is crucial to give your team members something to look forward to and encourage them to stay motivated throughout.

6. Identify your resources

Before starting your project, it is imperative to ensure that you have the critical resources to complete the tasks successfully. And if you don’t have adequate resources, devise a strategy to leverage what you have effectively. Include all the essential components such as the number of projects, budget, timelines, etc., to make sure you don’t miss out on vital aspects.

Knowing what you have to work with will ensure that any tasks or projects you set out to accomplish have a better chance of succeeding. If you don’t have enough cash, a large enough team, or even enough time to manage every project, you’ll soon find yourself struggling to meet milestones and deadlines.

7. Monitor, gauge, and update

It is pivotal to allocate time and resources to evaluate your projects’ and teams’ progress. Make sure you conduct frequent follow-ups with team members to see if everybody is on track. 

For this reason, you need to elaborate on the follow-up and assessment of teams in your action plan. This will help you implement the strategies that work well and eradicate the ineffective ones.

  • A guide to reaching your goals

An action plan is an indispensable tool that helps you guide your way to realizing your goals. It turns your visualization into actionable steps and milestones. 

From larger departments in an organization to individual employees, an action plan is a defined methodology that helps you outline your activities, tasks, resources, budget, objectives, etc. This, in turn, allows you to achieve desired outcomes.

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Content Author: JT Ripton

JT Ripton is a business consultant and a freelance writer out of Tampa. JT has written for companies like T-Mobile and others.

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Table of Contents

  • How to create an effective action plan 

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Related Content

Creating a business action plan .

Multiethnic business people discussing charts and graphs showing the results of their successful teamwork. Mature business woman showing presentation to casual colleagues in modern office during night meeting. Group of creatives analyzing market trends.

Published: November 22, 2022

A detailed action plan for a business is important for its success and growth. Learn the process of creating a business action plan with these simple steps. 

Many people don’t like planning. But in business, your action plan is the key to focusing on the right information in the right order – much like the combination to a safe – and it helps measure progress toward your goals. 

Here's how you should use an action plan to accelerate growth and increase your revenues and income. 

Make sure you know who your ideal customer is, because it’s often not who you think it is, or who you are currently selling to. 

How to Create an Action Plan for Business Growth

1. create a revenue plan..

Identify your sources of revenues, the product or services that you offer, how many you plan on selling, and the price you will charge. This will let you know if it’s possible to achieve your financial goals. 

2. Map your gap.

This is the distance from where you are to where you want to be. This includes your financial, non-financial and personal goals – revenues, profits, volume of sales, number of customers, etc. It’s a snapshot for you to decide if it’s the journey you want to take, or change. 

3. Know your customer.

Make sure you know who your ideal customer is, because it’s often not who you think it is, or who you are currently selling to. Knowing the profile of your customer will help you save time and money when it comes to acquiring them. This is the foundation for every business. 

4. Document how your prospects/customers think and behave.

Specifically, you should think about why customers decide to purchase  – which is the key to making the sale. Every decision starts with a desire created by internal emotion or external influence. If you follow the way they think and act, then you can place your product or service right in front of them at the point of decision. 

5. Create a unique positioning in your market.

In a world of clutter, what gets heard is a simple message. Identify the biggest problem in your marketplace and then tell people how you solve that problem, and say it in less than one minute. 

6. Know what sets you apart.

Write down the biggest benefit that you offer your customers (a benefit that your competition doesn't offer). It doesn’t have to be a coherent statement, it just has to have impact. 

7. Take action.

This is what is missing from the book The Secret , which talks about using The Law of Attraction to bring abundance into your life. You cannot attract abundance without taking action. Affirmations, visualizations, and meditation all work together when you add action to the formula. 

8. Success starts with the belief that it’s possible.

Your current belief system may not be helping you achieve your goals. Old paradigms (beliefs) are the number one reason for holding us back from achieving what’s possible. 

9. Determine which distribution channels you will use for your business.

A distribution channel is simply the place where the transaction takes place between you and your customer – otherwise known as the point of sale. The seven distribution channels to choose from are: retail, online, direct sales, events, mail order, phone sales, or agents. 

10. Select the right strategies.

These should get people to the point of sale identified in step No. 4, and there are about 130 strategies and tactics to choose from (i.e., advertising, direct mail, copywriting, telemarketing, internet marketing, etc.). 

11. Create a 90-day sales and marketing schedule.

This will help you plan the strategies, tactics, timing , and who will be responsible for implementation. Once you get your thoughts on paper, you can feel less overwhelmed that you now have some direction to follow or action items to delegate. 

These 11 steps are not intended to represent a complete guide to creating a detailed action plan – they are intended to help you get started. Now you have something to measure against and you can review things periodically to see if you are on track. Ask yourself every day if you are on track or if something needs to be adjusted. 

A version of this article was originally published on April 19, 2011

Photo: Getty Images

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Detailed Implementation Plan for Business Strategy


Category: OKR University .

A strategy implementation plan is crucial for businesses to effectively execute their strategy by breaking it down into specific tasks, assigning responsibilities, establishing timelines, and tracking progress. A strategy implementation plan is a detailed roadmap that clearly defines the steps and activities required to execute the strategy effectively.

Content Index

  • What is a strategy implementation plan?
  • The difference between a strategic plan and a strategy implementation plan
  • Why is a strategy implementation plan important?
  • Components of a strategy implementation plan
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Key Highlights

  • The success of a business depends on how good its strategy is, but a great strategy is still just a concept or blueprint that merely reflects the intent of the business.
  • A strategy implementation plan is a detailed roadmap that clearly defines the steps and activities required to execute the strategy effectively.
  • While a strategic plan focuses on defining the strategy, a strategy implementation plan focuses on executing it.
  • A strategy implementation plan is crucial for turning a strategic plan into reality as it outlines all the steps and actions required to implement a strategy.
  • A well-designed strategy implementation plan helps businesses ensure the effective allocation of resources, alignment, and cooperation of all the stakeholders in working towards the same goals and progress in the right direction.
  • Following are some of the key components in a strategy implementation plan necessary for successfully executing a strategy: Action Items, Timelines, Resource Allocation, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Communication Plan, Risk Management Plan, and Monitoring and Evaluation.

Strategy and Implementation Plan

The success of a business depends on how good its strategy is. A solid business strategy helps the business organization achieve its objectives, remain competitive, and stay ahead of the competition. It takes into account various aspects of the business, such as its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and enables businesses to create a well-defined plan to cater to the customers with suitable offerings and weather the challenges in the market. It enables businesses to set clear goals, identify the steps needed to achieve them, and determine the resources required for success.

However, a great strategy is still just a concept or blueprint that merely reflects the intent of the business. Unless you manage to implement it effectively, a strategy cannot achieve the desired outcomes. Strategy implementation provides a clear direction for achieving the strategic objectives and ensures success. A perfect strategy implementation requires a focused and coordinated effort across all levels of the organization. It involves putting the right people, processes, and resources in place to execute the strategy effectively. It calls for a detailed strategy implementation plan.

What is a Strategy Implementation Plan?

A strategy implementation plan is a detailed roadmap that clearly defines the steps and activities required to execute the strategy effectively. It provides businesses with a framework for setting priorities, managing resources, and tracking progress toward achieving the desired strategic objectives. A well-crafted implementation plan enables businesses to execute the strategy in the most efficient and effective manner possible, increasing their chances of success.

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan. There is no other route to success. Pablo Picasso

What is the Difference Between a Strategic Plan and a Strategy Implementation Plan?

A strategy implementation plan is a totally different document compared to a strategic plan. They both serve different purposes.

A strategic plan is devised by the top management. It is a high-level document that focuses on the bigger picture and the ambitions of an organization. It outlines the vision, mission, and long-term goals of the organization. It elaborates on the direction the organization wants to take and the long-term objectives it expects to achieve over a certain period, usually three to five years. A strategic plan details the overall strategy and lays out a roadmap for how the organization will achieve its goals.

In contrast, an implementation plan is a highly detailed, actionable, tactical document that lists and details the specific actions and steps businesses should take to implement a strategy. It breaks down the business strategy into specific tasks and smaller objectives. It assigns responsibilities to relevant team members, establishes timelines and milestones for each task, event, and activity, and provides a framework for tracking progress and evaluating success.

While a strategic plan focuses on defining the strategy, a strategy implementation plan focuses on executing it. A strategy implementation plan is critical for translating the strategy into action and making progress toward achieving the strategic goals.

Why is a Strategy Implementation Plan Important?

A strategy implementation plan is crucial for turning a strategic plan into reality as it outlines all the steps and actions required to implement a strategy. It helps organizations to effectively execute their strategy by breaking it down into specific tasks, assigning responsibilities to the right people, establishing timelines for each task and milestone, and providing a framework for tracking progress and evaluating success.

Without a strategy implementation plan, a strategic plan may remain nothing more than just an idea, with no clear path to execution. A well-designed strategy implementation plan helps businesses ensure the effective allocation of resources, alignment, and cooperation of all the stakeholders in working towards the same goals and progress in the right direction.

A strategy implementation plan also helps businesses identify potential obstacles and challenges, allowing businesses to proactively put mitigation strategies and counteracting mechanisms in place to address them before they grow into bigger issues. It also helps to establish accountability by assigning responsibilities to the team members for specific tasks, outcomes, and deliverables.

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Seven ways an effective strategy implementation plan can help execution.

  • Helps to convert a strategic plan at a conceptual level into actionable steps, activities, and tasks.
  • Assigns responsibility for every task to concerned personnel, creates a reporting structure, and ensures accountability.
  • Establishes timelines and milestones and makes tasks and steps time-bound and trackable.
  • Provides a framework for measuring progress towards the objectives and evaluating success.
  • Ensures judicious allocation of adequate resources for all the tasks and steps.
  • Identifies potential obstacles or challenges and proactively addresses them.
  • Helps organizations achieve their strategic objectives and realize their vision.


Seven Components of a strategy implementation plan

Following are some of the key components in a strategy implementation plan necessary for successfully executing a strategy.

1. Action items

Action items are a list of specific tasks that the company needs to complete to implement the strategy. Each action item is clearly defined, with instructions, expected outcomes, deadlines, and resources needed. Every action item should be assigned to a specific individual or team with clear expectations and accountability. Following are some examples of action items.

  • Develop a landing page to generate leads.
  • Hire a social media manager and a content director to execute the marketing strategy.
  • Train the staff on leveraging AI to gain more comprehensive insights from the collected data.
  • Secure funding for the marketing initiatives to promote the newly launched product line.
  • Create a new e-commerce store to support the strategy.

2. Timelines

Every task, action, or step requires a timeline to determine when it needs to be completed and by whom. The timeline should also be segmented into smaller time frames, and the expected progress at those specific points during strategy implementation should be listed as key milestones and deadlines. It is important to ensure that the timeline is realistic and achievable. While creating the timeline, you should also take into account any potential delays or unexpected roadblocks that may arise during the strategy execution.

  • Lead generation

Responsibility: Marketing Manager

Action item: Achieve 4000 new leads by the end of Q2

Steps and Timeline:

  • 1000 leads by the 30 April 2023
  • 2500 new leads by 31 May 2023
  • 4000 new leads by 30 June 2023
  • Hire new employees

Responsibility: HR Manager

Action item: Hire a social media manager and a content director in Q2

  • Write job descriptions with detailed roles and responsibilities – 20 Apr 2023
  • Add them to the list of openings on the ‘Career’ page on the corporate website – 27 Apr 2023
  • Communicate the requirements and invite applications through digital ads and Manpower site listings – 30 Apr 2023
  • Shortlist suitable candidates and schedule interviews – 15 May 2023
  • Assess the findings and select the right employees – 25 May 2023
  • Communicate with them and confirm their availability and willingness to join – 26 May 2023
  • Send offer letters to them – 31 May 2023
  • Onboard the new employees with an induction – 30 June 2023

3. Resource allocation

The strategy implementation plan should mention the resources needed to implement the strategy, including human resources, financial resources, equipment, infrastructure, and technology. The strategy implementation plan must ensure the allocation and availability of necessary resources for all the tasks at the appropriate times throughout the implementation process.

  • Q2 Marketing campaign – $100,000
  • Recruitment and onboarding of new employees – $50,000 for new employees
  • Technology training and upskilling employees – $25000
  • E-commerce Website and landing page development – $100,000

Personnel: Marketing team, Accounts team, HR team, IT team, and third-party consultants

Equipment: New computers and software for staff, marketing materials, new multi-channel campaign management software, and website hosting

4. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Strategy implementation requires careful monitoring and tracking of the progress toward the objectives. For that, you should identify the relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and key metrics to measure the success of the strategy implementation. These KPIs should be specific, measurable, and aligned with the overall objectives of the strategy. The plan should have target numbers to verify that the action items lead to desired outcomes.

  • Increase sales by 15%.
  • Achieve an increase in website traffic by 20%.
  • Increase customer satisfaction by 10%.
  • Boost social media engagement by 25%.

5. Communication plan

Strategy execution requires communication with various stakeholders at various points in time. So you need a communication plan to govern all the communication involved in strategy execution. It should inform all stakeholders about the strategy execution, including the goals, timelines, and progress updates. It should also describe the appropriate channels and frequency of communication throughout the implementation to continuously engage with the stakeholders.

  • Monthly progress updates to all employees
  • Quarterly progress reports to the executive team and board of directors
  • Fortnightly newsletters to customers
  • Social media updates thrice a week

6. Risk management plan

When a company is planning a strategic implementation, it must consider the risks involved in it and the challenges and problems that may arise during the implementation. So there is a need for a robust risk management plan to identify potential risks, assess their likelihood and impact, and develop strategies for mitigating them. It should also include a contingency plan as a backup in case of unexpected events. Planning should also include mechanisms to regularly monitor and address the risks throughout the implementation process.

Potential risk: Failure of the marketing campaign

Mitigation strategy: Conduct thorough market research and set up focus groups to test the campaign before launch.

Potential risk: Lack of adoption of a new technology

Mitigation strategy: Set goals for the company-wide adoption of the new technology using the OKR framework and set a deadline. Communicate it with the employees, update adoption data regularly on the OKR software, collect regular feedback through and provide training and support for staff to ensure successful adoption.

Potential risk: Lack of financial resources

Mitigation strategy: Develop a contingency plan to secure additional funding if necessary.

7. Monitoring and evaluation

It is imperative to monitor and evaluate strategy execution regularly to verify progress, identify problems, make adjustments, and ensure that the strategy execution is on track. The monitoring and evaluation process should be ongoing throughout the period of strategy implementation. So the strategy implementation plan should include a process for collecting and analyzing data. It should also mention the means to report progress to stakeholders.

  • Regular review of sales data to track progress toward KPIs
  • Comparing the number of leads generated with the sales conversion figures to identify the ratio of quality leads
  • Analysis of website traffic, number of leads generated, and social media engagement
  • Monthly surveys to measure customer satisfaction
  • Quarterly review of the budget to ensure proper allocation and utilization of resources

Strategy Implementation Plan: Frequently Asked Questions

1. what is a strategy implementation plan.

A strategy implementation plan is a detailed roadmap that clearly defines the steps and activities required to execute the strategy effectively. It provides businesses a framework for setting priorities, managing resources, and tracking progress toward achieving the desired strategic objectives. A well-crafted implementation plan enables businesses to execute the strategy in the most efficient and effective manner possible, increasing their chances of success.

2. What are the 5 steps of strategy implementation?

The five steps of strategic implementation include

  • Strategic Planning
  • Communicating the strategy
  • Aligning the organization
  • Strategy implementation
  • Monitoring and adapting

3. How do you write a strategy implementation plan?

  • Define specific goals and objectives.
  • Identify the tactics and initiatives needed to achieve those goals.
  • Ensure alignment with the strategic objectives.
  • Develop a timeline and budget for each initiative.
  • Assign responsibilities and establish performance metrics.
  • Assess risks and create a risk management plan.
  • Create a communication plan to communicate with stakeholders.
  • Continuously monitor progress and adjust the plan as needed.

Strategy implementation plan: Key takeaways

  • A great strategy is just a concept without a solid implementation plan.
  • A strategy implementation plan helps businesses turn their strategy into reality by breaking it down into specific tasks, assigning responsibilities, establishing timelines, and tracking progress.
  • A strategy implementation plan differs from a strategic plan, which focuses on defining the strategy and long-term goals.
  • Key components of a strategy implementation plan include action items, timelines, resource allocation, KPIs, communication plan, risk management plan, and monitoring and evaluation.

In recent years, the latest trends in strategy implementation have focused on agility, innovation, and digital transformation. Companies invest in technology to optimize processes, create cross-functional teams for collaborative decision-making, and prioritize customer-centricity.

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Business Action Plan

Posted by Cherish Taylor in Apr, 2016

What is a Business Action Plan?


A Business Action Plan can help set you on the right track. It is an internal business document that lists the actions you must take within a certain timeline, while running your business, to achieve a goal.

Business Action Plan

Business Action Plan by

What is the purpose of a Business Action Plan?

The purpose of a Business Action Plan is to set out what resources are required to reach the goal, create a timeline of what specific tasks need to be completed and determine what resources are required to reach that businesses goal.

What are the components of a Business Action Plan?

A good Business Action Plan has these components:

business action plan

  • Goal – The overall vision for the Business Action Plan.
  • Objective – What completing the Business Action Plan would mean to the business.
  • Indicators – What milestones you would have to meet during the Business Action Plan.
  • Strategy – Steps needed to take in the Business Action Plan to accomplish the goals.
  • Action/Tasks – How would you implement the above steps.

What is a Business Action Plan like?

A Business Action Plan is like when someone is planning to go on a trip. (Below is a very simple example)

  • Goal : is to have a fun time away.
  • Objective : is to have a hassle free holiday, with everything planned before going away. Indicators: Tickets booked, health insurance organised, accommodation organised, activities organised


  • Action/Tasks : Tickets: Look online for the cheapest flights, book & pay for the cheapest ones. Health Insurance: Ring current health insurance and take out travel insurance. Accommodation: Search online using a few different sites and then book the accommodation that fits within the budget.
  • Activities : Search online for activities that will take place where and when you are, book activities that are within your budget.

When do businesses typically develop a Business Action Plan?

Typically a Business Action Plan comes about during or after a meeting. A Business Action Plan is used to set goals such as; develop new business alliances, seek investment for a business or grow your existing business etc

Where can I find more information about of a Business Action Plan?


Video Presentation – This is an animated video about Business Action Plan

Slide presentation – this is a slide presentation about business action plan, sound recording – this is a sound recording about about business action plan, video presentation – this is an video presentation about business action plan, quiz – this is a quiz about a business action plan, related posts:.

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  • Business Products by Jesamine Barton
  • Business Performance Measures by Matt F Champion
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  • Business Products
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  • Business and Legal structures in Australia

What is an Action Plan? Learn with Templates and Examples

action plan for business strategy

Planning on turning your vision into reality? And what’s your best way to avoid challenges and problems during this journey? A solid action plan.

We have outlined 6 steps explaining how to write an action plan. Once you familiarize yourself with them, go ahead and use the editable templates below to start planning right away.

What is an Action Plan?

Why you need an action plan, how to write an action plan, action plan templates.

An action plan is a specific list of tasks in order to achieve a particular goal. It can be regarded as a proposed strategy to execute a specific project to achieve a specific or general goal effectively and efficiently. It outlines steps to take and helps stay focused and organized, whether it’s personal or work-related. Breaking down the goal into smaller, manageable steps, makes it easier to stay motivated and track progress.

It’s an essential part of the strategic planning process and helps with improving teamwork planning Not only in project management, but action plans can be used by individuals to prepare a strategy to achieve their own personal goals as well.

Components of an action plan include

  • A well-defined description of the goal to be achieved
  • Tasks/ steps that need to be carried out to reach the goal
  • People who will be in charge of carrying out each task
  • When will these tasks be completed (deadlines and milestones)
  • Resources needed to complete the tasks
  • Measures to evaluate progress

What’s great about having everything listed down on one location is that it makes it easier to track progress and effectively plan things out.

An action plan is not something set in stone. As your organization grows, and surrounding circumstances change, you will have to revisit and make adjustments to meet the latest needs.

Sometimes businesses don’t spend much time on developing an action plan before an initiative, which, in most cases, leads to failure. If you haven’t heard, “failing to plan is planning to fail” said Benjamin Franklin supposedly once.

Planning helps you prepare for the obstacles ahead and keep you on track. And with an effective action plan, you can boost your productivity and keep yourself focused.  

Here are some benefits of an action plan you should know;

  • It gives you a clear direction. As an action plan highlights exactly what steps to be taken and when they should be completed, you will know exactly what you need to do.
  • Having your goals written down and planned out in steps will give you a reason to stay motivated and committed throughout the project.  
  • With an action plan, you can track your progress toward your goal.
  • Since you are listing down all the steps you need to complete in your action plan, it will help you prioritize your tasks based on effort and impact.

From the looks of it, creating an action plan seems fairly easy. But there are several important steps you need to follow with caution in order to get the best out of it. Here’s how to write an action plan explained in 6 easy steps.

Step 1: Define your end goal

If you are not clear about what you want to do and what you want to achieve, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Planning a new initiative? Start by defining where you are and where you want to be.

Solving a problem? Analyze the situation and explore possible solutions before prioritizing them.

Then write down your goal. And before you move on to the next step, run your goal through the SMART criteria . Or in other words, make sure that it is

  • Specific – well-defined and clear
  • Measurable – include measurable indicators to track progress  
  • Attainable – realistic and achievable within the resources, time, money, experience, etc. you have
  • Relevant – align with your other goals
  • Timely – has a finishing date

Use this SMART goal worksheet to simplify this process. Share it with others to get their input as well.  

exit full-screen

And refer to our easy guide to the goal-setting process to learn more about setting and planning your goals.

Step 2: List down the steps to be followed

The goal is clear. What exactly should you do to realize it?

Create a rough template to list down all the tasks to be performed, due dates and people responsible.

It’s important that you make sure that the entire team is involved in this process and has access to the document. This way everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities in the project.

Make sure that each task is clearly defined and is attainable. If you come across larger and more complex tasks, break them down to smaller ones that are easier to execute and manage.

Tips: Use a RACI Matrix template to clarify project roles and responsibilities, and plan projects

Step 3: Prioritize tasks and add deadlines

It’s time to reorganize the list by prioritizing the tasks . Some steps, you may need to prioritize as they can be blocking other sub-steps.

Add deadlines, and make sure that they are realistic. Consult with the person responsible for carrying it out to understand his or her capacity before deciding on deadlines.

Step 4: Set milestones

Milestones can be considered mini goals leading up to the main goal at the end. The advantage of adding milestones is that they give the team members to look forward to something and help them stay motivated even though the final due date is far away.

Start from the end goal and work your way back as you set milestones . Remember not to keep too little or too much time in between the milestone you set. It’s a best practice to space milestones two weeks apart.  

Step 5: Identify the resources needed

Before you start your project, it’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary resources at hand to complete the tasks. And if they are not currently available, you need to first make a plan to acquire them.

This should also include your budget. You can assign a column of your action plan to mark the cost of each task if there are any.  

Step 6: Visualize your action plan

The point of this step is to create something that everyone can understand at a glance and that can be shared with everyone.

Whether your action plan comes in the shape of a flowchart , Gantt chart , or table , make sure that it clearly communicates the elements we have identified so far – tasks, task owners, deadlines, resources, etc.

This document should be easily accessible to everyone and should be editable.

Step 7: Monitor, evaluate and update

Allocate some time to evaluate the progress you’ve made with your team.

You can mark tasks that are completed as done on this final action plan, bringing attention to how you’ve progressed toward the goal.

This will also bring out the tasks that are pending or delayed, in which case you need to figure out why and find suitable solutions. And then update the action plan accordingly.

Business action plan

You may like to read: The Easy Guide to Making a Business Plan for Presentations

Marketing action plan

Strategic action plan, corrective action plan template.

Learn more about: Corrective Action Plan template .

Additional resources: The Easy Guide to Creating a Business Contingency Plan

Simple action plan template

Any more tips on creating an action plan.

An action plan is designed to guide your way to accomplishing your goals. It turns your vision into actionable goals and steps. And it helps you stay focused and motivated.

From an individual employee in an organization to larger departments can make use of action plans to steer their way towards completing their goals.

Maybe you are about to create your very first action plan, or you are already a pro at writing them. Either way, we’d like to hear your opinions on how to write an action plan. Do share them with us in the comments section below.

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FAQs About Action Plan

Lack of clarity on goals: Make sure the team understands the goals and objectives of the action plan. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Unclear responsibilities: Assign clear roles and responsibilities for each team member to avoid confusion and ensure accountability.

Overcomplicating the plan: Keep the action plan simple and easy to understand. Avoid adding unnecessary complexity or detail that may confuse the team.

Failure to prioritize tasks: Prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. This will ensure that the team focuses on the most critical tasks first.

Inadequate resources: Ensure that the team has access to the necessary resources such as time, budget, and equipment, to carry out the action plan successfully.

Lack of communication: Effective communication is crucial to the success of any action plan. Ensure that team members are regularly updated on progress and any changes to the plan.

Failure to monitor progress: Regularly monitor progress and adjust the action plan as needed to ensure that it stays on track and achieves its goals.

Strategic action plan: This type of plan outlines the long-term goals and objectives of an organization, and the actions that will be taken to achieve them. It typically covers a period of several years and includes high-level strategies and initiatives.

Operational action plan: This plan focuses on the day-to-day operations of an organization, outlining the actions that will be taken to achieve short-term goals and objectives. It typically covers a period of one year or less and includes specific actions and timelines.

Project action plan: This type of plan is used for individual projects and outlines the actions that will be taken to achieve specific project goals and objectives. It includes a detailed breakdown of tasks, timelines, and responsibilities.

Sales action plan: This plan focuses on the actions that will be taken to increase sales and revenue. It includes specific strategies for marketing, sales, and customer service.

Marketing action plan: This plan outlines the actions that will be taken to promote a product or service and increase brand awareness. It includes strategies for advertising, social media, public relations, and other marketing initiatives.

Crisis management action plan: This type of plan outlines the actions that will be taken in the event of a crisis, such as a natural disaster or security breach. It includes specific protocols for communication, evacuation, and other emergency procedures.

An action plan can be used by anyone who wants to achieve specific goals or objectives. It is a useful tool for individuals, teams, and organizations in a variety of contexts. Here are some examples:

Individuals: An individual can use an action plan to achieve personal goals such as losing weight, completing a degree, or starting a business.

Teams: A team can use an action plan to achieve goals related to a specific project or initiative. For example, a marketing team may use an action plan to launch a new product.

Small businesses: Small businesses can use an action plan to achieve goals related to sales, marketing, operations, or finance.

Non-profit organizations: Non-profit organizations can use an action plan to achieve goals related to fundraising, volunteer recruitment, or program implementation.

Government agencies: Government agencies can use an action plan to achieve goals related to policy implementation, disaster response, or public safety.

Educational institutions: Educational institutions can use an action plan to achieve goals related to improving student outcomes, increasing enrollment, or expanding programs.

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Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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How to develop an effective business action plan

Any business idea , in order to achieve success, must translate into concrete action (or, rather, a series of concrete actions). Planning, from this perspective, is crucial because in order to implement a business strategy effectively and profitably, it is absolutely necessary to know precisely what steps need to be taken and when. In other words, an action plan is essential.

To understand the importance of this paper, it is possible as of now to quote the words of David Allen , coach of so many top managers of various multinational corporations:

“The world increasingly expects people to be able to make things happen, to realize them. Inspiration and innovation are crucial, but if a company or individual is unable to realize the plan, goal or vision, the best ideas and strategies become useless”.

In the next few lines we will go into more detail about exactly what an action plan is and what it is needed, with particular reference to the field of startups . Only once you have clarified these aspects will you be able to understand how to identify and define the steps necessary to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

What is the action plan and what is it for

action plan

action plan: definition

A business action plan can be defined as a document that puts down on paper the goals that you want to achieve and the actions that you need to perform to achieve them. In more concrete terms, in this particular document the business strategy is broken down into several steps, for the implementation of which there is also a precise time frame.

The benefits for companies and, in particular, for startups are many: you must consider, first of all, that a properly drafted action plan provides you with a roadmap to follow, a particularly valuable tool for managing time and resources more efficiently (i.e., without unnecessary waste). By giving you the ability to understand what the most relevant aspects of your business are and thus focus specifically on them, the action plan allows you, in addition, to speed up your decision-making processes .

A comprehensive and detailed corporate action plan is also a great way to provide a shared vision of the company and outline goals that are clear within the work team, so that all employees are aligned and ready to take proper action in any eventuality, according to the responsibilities of each of them. For this reason, it is very important to involve the work team, from an early stage, in the development of the action plan.

While it is true (and it is) that the perfect plan does not exist, it is equally true that a well-designed action plan shields you from the even serious consequences that can result in the possible missteps, hiccups, and setbacks from which no entrepreneurial activity is immune. Indeed, to function egregiously, the action plan (and, especially, a startup’s action plan) must be flexible and provide the right guidance to respond to any unforeseen event in the business development process.

the 6 steps of an action plan

the 6 steps of an action plan

The first step: getting to know the company (SWOT analysis)

Before taking any action, it is necessary to know the starting scenario ; in your specific case, this means knowing your startup and, to be even more precise, it means knowing its strengths and weaknesses , as well as also the threats and opportunities that it may have to manage. It is worth reminding you, in this regard, that the most valuable tool you have at your disposal in this regard is the SWOT analysis (the acronym SWOT stands, not coincidentally, for “Strengths,” “Weaknesses,” “Opportunities” and “Threats.

SWOT analysis is a particular strategic planning tool that examines both the internal environment of a company, analyzing what it excels or lacks in, and the external environment, helping to better understand the behavior of competitors and the state of the market (as well as its evolution over time).

Because of the information it is able to bring out, SWOT analysis makes it easier to build the pitch deck or business plan around a company’s strengths, which are also considered based on the opportunities in the market.

Now that we have talked about the business plan , you are probably wondering how this relates to the action plan. It’s a short step: the business plan outlines the company’s main goals, the strategic plan defines the broad outlines by which to achieve the goals (and, that is, implement the business plan), and the action plan describes the precise steps to be taken to put the company’s strategic plan into action.

Assess the context (market analysis)

As already pointed out, in order to create an action plan that can prove truly effective, you need to know your company, but also assess the external context in which it operates. Knowing how to conduct a market analysis is crucial in this regard because it allows you to build a data-driven (i.e., driven by hard, real data) plan of action and, in light of this, to make more informed and functional decisions with a view to achieving your goals, perhaps in an unexplored niche .

The advice for comprehensively assessing the operating environment is to take a multidisciplinary approach, combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Whichever method you choose, remember to identify precisely the objectives of your market analysis and define exactly the areas of research, segmenting the target audience and choosing the communication channels through which to dialogue with it. Not only that: be very careful to choose the questions you ask carefully and spend the right amount of time analyzing the results.

Define goals and steps needed to achieve them

It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty and figure out how to make an action plan more concrete. To know what actions you need to take to achieve your goals, of course, you must first determine what they are: one of the most common methods of defining the right goals is what is known as SMART , an acronym that stands for “ Specific ,” “ Measureable ,” “ Attainable ,” “ Relevant ” and “ Time-based .”

SMART goals

SMART goals

A “specific” goal is one that is defined in detail, not in a general way. The goal must also be “measurable,” i.e., it must be possible to use measurements that can allow you to check the progress made. Being ambitious is very important when it comes to launching yourself into a new business , but keep in mind that your goals must be “attainable”: this means that your goals must push you to get better and better, but they must also be anchored in reality and calibrated to your actual possibilities. Clarity should also be given on the concept of “relevant”: your goals must be relevant both to the scenario and to your specific skills and competencies. Finally, goals must be “time-based,” that is, defined so that they can be achieved within a specific time frame.

The time sequence must also include key steps to be achieved throughout the process. As with goals, you need to set realistic time deadlines in relation to the resources you have available. Once the time sequence is set, it is time to focus on each individual activity, identifying for each one a person responsible, the resources needed for its completion, and the precise steps to be followed. As mentioned earlier, it is essential to monitor progress and, if necessary, make adjustments to the action plan. To do all this, regular meetings should be scheduled with all those involved and responsible for the proper execution of the action plan.

Building a table for writing the plan

To make your action plan even clearer (and, consequently, effective), it may prove very useful to construct a table so that it can be represented graphically in a more concise and immediate way. In this regard, you must take care to include within it, for each objective, a number of key points: specifically, we refer to the actions that you need to take to achieve it, the personnel involved in the process and the figures responsible for it, the resources specifically dedicated to the objective and all operations related to it, and, finally, the time deadline by which you need to achieve the set goal.

(How to) ensure that the action plan is followed.

The following aspect has already been mentioned in our analysis but it is important to emphasize it again: the entire work team must be aligned on the action plan. Informing employees is not enough: you must also make sure that all employees understand the rationale behind it and its benefits to the organization and to the workers themselves. An action plan may also require drastic decisions and radical changes , and it is important that you are able to capture any concerns employees may have and reassure them, making them feel comfortable with the new scenario on the horizon.

Measure progress and adjust goals

It is important to monitor progress regularly so that you can identify potential problems or opportunities for improvement. Monitoring progress also allows you to stay abreast of your action plan and ensure that each activity is completed in a timely manner. Measuring progress, in practical terms, helps you identify areas that need specific adjustments, which can also result in a reevaluation of the previously set goal.

Always keep in mind that the validity of an action plan is not immutable and eternal, since your goals and actions are inevitably intertwined with the changing environment surrounding your startup. In order to achieve success, therefore, you must take care to reevaluate your action plan at regular intervals, so that you adjust your goals to new scenarios.

How to develop an effective business action plan

Nicola Zanetti

Founder B-PlanNow® | Startup mentor | Startup consulting & marketing strategist | Leading startup to scaleup | Private angel investor | Ecommerce Manager | Professional trainer | Book writer

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Create an action plan that drives results

Alicia Raeburn contributor headshot

An action plan outlines precisely how you’re planning to accomplish your goals. It’s the perfect way to approach goals systematically and keep your team on target. In this article, we will cover how to create an action plan in six steps and how to implement it successfully. Plus, learn more about the differences between action plans, project plans, and to-do lists.

It can feel good to make goals. After all, you’re defining what you want to accomplish. But goals won’t do much without clear action steps. ​​An action plan is a popular project management technique that lists your action steps so you know exactly how you’re going to accomplish your goals. 

We’re going to show you how to create this clear roadmap step by step and other tools you should utilize to get the most out of your action plan. Let’s dive in.

What is an action plan?

An action plan is a list of tasks or steps you need to complete to achieve your goals. An effective action plan works like a management plan for your company’s initiatives, outlining the steps you need to take to make these larger goals a success. Once you go through the goal-setting process, create an action plan with specific tasks and timeframes to reach each goal. 

Who needs an action plan?

An action plan is useful for anyone who needs a step-by-step planning process. When you create an action plan, you detail exactly what actions you'll take to accomplish your project goals. These plans can help you organize your to-dos and ensure you have the necessary information and resources to accomplish your goals.

But you can create action plans for more than just strategic planning. Use this tool to reach any specific goals in a systematic way. Try setting up:

Business action plan

Marketing action plan

Corrective action plan

Sales action plan

Project action plan

Personal development action plan

Regardless of the type of action plan you create, make sure you create it in task management software . That way, you can easily share action items and timelines with your team to track progress. Instead of manual status updates and unclear deliverables, your team has one central source of truth for everything they need to do in order to hit their goals. 

Now let’s get into how you can create an action plan that increases your team’s efficiency and accountability.

Who needs an action plan?

Step 2: Identify tasks

Now that your goal is clearly defined and written down, you’ll want to identify the steps you have to take to reach it. Identify all of the tasks that you and your team need to complete to reach milestones and, eventually, the main objective.

Here are a few action plan examples with tasks for different kinds of goals:

Goal: Expand team from seven to nine team members by June.

Meet with Human Resources to discuss the recruitment campaign.

Create a template project to track candidates.

Schedule three interviews per week.

Goal: Select and onboard new work management software to the entire company by the end of Q2.

Apply for the budget.

Create a roll-out plan for Q2.

Schedule training for team members.

Goal: Host 5k charity run in May to raise $15,000 for the local food bank.

Find volunteers and determine responsibilities

Prepare marketing materials and PR plans

Secure sponsors

Step 3: Allocate resources

Once you’ve outlined all of your tasks, you can allocate resources like team members, project budget, or necessary equipment. Whether it’s assigning team members to certain tasks, applying for a budget, or gathering helpful tools—now is the time to plan and prepare.

Sometimes, you can’t allocate all of your resources before you put your action plan in motion. Perhaps you have to apply for funding first or need executive approval before you can move on with a task. In that case, make the resource an action item in your plan so you can take care of it later.

Step 4: Prioritize tasks

When your team is clear on their priorities, they know what work to do first and what work they can reschedule if necessary. No action plan is set in stone, so the best way to empower your team is to let them know what tasks have a high priority and which ones are a bit more flexible.

To make this clear, sort all of your action items by priority and sequence:

Priority: Important and less important tasks.

Sequence: Order in which tasks have to be completed so others can start.

When you’re organizing and prioritizing your action items , you’ll notice that some action items are dependent on others. In other words, one task can’t begin until the previous task is completed. Highlight these dependencies and factor the sequence into your prioritization. This reduces bottlenecks , removing obstacles that would make a less important action item delay a high-priority item.  

Step 5: Set deadlines and milestones

When your team knows what they're working towards, they have the context to effectively prioritize work and the motivation to get great work done. Team members tend to be more motivated when they directly understand how their work is contributing to larger goals.

To engage your teammates from the get go, assign deadlines to all action items and define milestones . Milestones mark specific points along your project timeline that identify when activities have been completed or when a new phase starts

Create a timeline or Gantt chart to get a better overview of your prioritized tasks, milestones, and deadlines. Your timeline also serves as a visual way to track the start and end dates of every task in your action plan. You can use it as a baseline to make sure your team stays on track.

Step 6: Monitor and revise your action plan

Your ability to stay on top of and adapt to changes is what makes you a great project manager. It’s crucial that you monitor your team’s progress and revise the plan when necessary.

Luckily, your action plan isn’t set in stone. The best way to track potentially changing priorities or deadlines is to use a dynamic tool like a work management software . That way, you can update to-dos and dependencies in real time, keep your team on the same page, and your action plan moving.

Action plan vs. plan B vs. project plan vs. to-do list

So how exactly does an action plan differ from all these other plans and lists? To clear this up once and for all, we’re going to explain what these plans are and when to use which plan to maximize your team’s efforts.

Action plan vs. plan B

You may have heard the terms action plan and plan B used interchangeably. But in fact, an action plan and plan B are two completely different types of plans. Here’s how to tell them apart:

Your action plan outlines actions in much detail so you and your team know exactly what steps to take to reach your goal.

A plan B is a secondary action plan, an alternative strategy, that your team can apply if your original plan fails. Whether that’s because of an internal issue or an external factor—having a plan B is a great way to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

Action plan vs. plan B

Action plan vs. project plan

A project plan is a bit more complicated than an action plan. Project plans are blueprints of the key elements your team needs to accomplish to successfully achieve your project goals. A project plan includes seven elements:

Goals and project objectives

Success metrics

Stakeholders and roles

Scope and budget

Milestones and deliverables

Timeline and schedule

Communication plan

Once you’ve created a project plan, use an action plan to outline and document how your team will execute your tasks and hit your goals. This will ensure that everyone on your team knows what their responsibilities are and what to get done by when.

Action plan vs. to-do list

A to-do list is typically used to write down single tasks that don’t necessarily lead to one common goal. To-do lists can change daily and are much less organized than action plans. An action plan will follow specific steps and include tasks that all lead to the completion of a common goal.

How to implement your action plan successfully

You know how to create an action plan, but in order to implement it successfully, you need to use the right tools and use them correctly. Here are our top five tips to ensure your action plan is effective:

How to implement your action plan successfully

Use task management software

Streamline your action plan by keeping all of your tasks and timelines in one central source of truth. Task management software, like Asana , is perfect for your action plan because it allows you to keep track of pending tasks, declare task ownership, assign dependencies, and connect with your team in real time or asynchronously .

Use or create templates

Create or use a template that lists all the action items with notes, status, priority, and ownership. When you create a template that fits your project type, you can reuse it time and time again.

Set up real-time alerts and assign dependencies

Make sure all action items are time-bound and that you assign dependencies. That way, your team can react when an item is ready for them and easily track what other items depend on theirs. 

Check action items off as you complete them

When action items are completed, check them off! Make sure it’s visible to everyone and happens in real time so the person responsible for the next action item can start their work as soon as possible.

Discuss late or pending tasks

If you run into issues or delays, talk to your team to uncover potential bottlenecks and find solutions that keep the action plan on track. You can add notes directly into your action plan or set up calls to discuss more complex issues.

Ready, set, action plan

Like Benjamin Franklin once said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Creating an action plan helps you stay focused, on track, and brings your goals to life.

Plan to succeed with a structured action plan and helpful tools like Asana’s task management software. Connect and align with your team in a central source of truth while staying flexible enough to revise your action plan when necessary.


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