Write a business development plan

Now that you’re in the growth stage of your business, set things in motion with a business development plan.

A business development plan sets goals for growth and explains how you will achieve them. It can have a short-term or long-term focus. Review and revise your plan as often as you can. And keep building on it as your business evolves.

How to write a business development plan

Your business development plan is your roadmap to growth, so make it clear, specific and realistic.

What to include in a business development plan

  • Opportunities for growth: Identify where growth will come from – whether it’s in creating new products, adding more services, breaking into new markets, or a combination of these.
  • Funding plan: Determine how you’ll fund your business growth. How much capital do you already have? How much more do you need and how will you get it? Check out our guide on financing your business.
  • Financial goals: Work out what revenue, costs and profits you’ll have if things stay the same. Use those numbers as a basis for setting new, more ambitious financial goals.
  • Operational needs: Identify what things about your business will need to change in order to achieve growth. Will you need extra people, more equipment, or new suppliers?
  • Sales and marketing activities: Figure out what sales and marketing efforts will effectively promote growth and how these efforts will change as the business gets bigger and better. Make sure your sales and marketing plan is sturdy enough to support your growing business.
  • Team needs: You may need people to take on some of the tasks you’ve been doing. Think about what parts of running the business you enjoy most – and you’re good at – and what parts you might want to delegate to others. And give some thought to the culture you want to develop in your business as it grows. Check out our guide on hiring employees.

A sample business development plan

Avoid these common business development mistakes.

  • Thinking short-term instead of long-term
  • Underestimating how much money it will take to grow
  • Not budgeting enough money to cover the costs of growth
  • Focusing on too many growth opportunities: think quality, not quantity

Micro-planning can keep you focused

You may want to create some micro-plans for specific growth projects so their details don’t get overlooked. And you can build in some KPIs to measure your progress and successes. As your business grows, take note of your progress and make periodic adjustments to your business development plan to make sure it’s still relevant.

Support is out there

Remember you’re not the first to go through this. Seek out mentors, advisors or other business owners who can help you with your planning. Your accountant or bookkeeper may also be able to help or point you in the direction of the right people.

Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

Growing your business

Are you ready to drop the hammer and take your business to the next level? Let’s look at how to grow.

Before you leap into growth, reflect on where you’ve come from. Find out the stage of business growth you’re at.

Understanding your business performance will help you grow. Check out common examples of small business KPIs.

Increasing sales revenue is one obvious way to help grow your business. But how do you sell more?

You can grow your business by selling more things to more people, or fewer things to fewer people. Let’s look at how.

You’re all set to grow your business. But there’s so much to keep track of. Xero’s got resources and solutions to help.

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Choosing to grow: The leader’s blueprint

Growth is something every CEO and business leader aspires to deliver, but for many, it remains elusive. About a quarter of companies don’t grow at all, and between 2010 and 2019, only one in eight achieved more than 10 percent revenue growth annually. 1 Statistics in this section are based on McKinsey’s analysis of data from Corporate Performance Analytics by McKinsey and regulatory filings, S&P Global, for the period 2010–19. Sustained, profitable growth is possible, however, and it comes down to “choice.”

About the authors

This article is a collaborative effort by Michael Birshan , Biljana Cvetanovski , Rebecca Doherty , Tjark Freundt , Andre Gaeta, Greg Kelly , Erik Roth , Ishaan Seth , and Jill Zucker , representing views from McKinsey’s Growth, Marketing & Sales and Strategy & Corporate Finance practices.

Do you, as a leader, make an explicit choice to grow? Or do you pay lip service to your growth ambitions and let your resolve falter if profit isn’t immediate?

When sustainable, inclusive, and profitable growth becomes a conscious, resolute choice, it shapes decision making across every area of the business. Growth becomes the oxygen of an organization, feeding the culture, elevating ambitions, and inspiring a sense of purpose. Growth leaders generate 80 percent more shareholder value than their peers over a ten-year period. Beyond creating shareholder value, growth attracts talent, fosters innovation, and creates jobs.

With only one in ten S&P 500 companies reporting growth above GDP for more than 30 years, sustained, profitable growth may seem difficult. But the choice to grow is paramount—and it is available to every leader, regardless of industry or economic climate. Indeed, many high-growth companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Burger King, Hyatt Hotels, Microsoft, and Airbnb, to name a few, were founded during economic downturns.

Incumbents have also achieved impressive growth during downturns. US-based retailer Target managed to deliver growth during each of the last two recessions. In 2000, Target doubled down on growth investments, adding new locations, products, and partnerships that resulted in double-digit growth for sales and profits. In 2008, Target analyzed customer trends and expanded its food offerings to include more fresh meat and produce; the food category has since added billions to annual revenue. In 2020, Target achieved record growth during the COVID-19 pandemic by investing consistently in online services and accelerating its ability to use stores as distribution centers and enable online-order pickups from their parking lots. 2 Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, and Franz Wohlgezogen, “Roaring Out of Recession,” Harvard Business Review , March 2010.

The leaders who choose growth and outperform their peers not only think, act, and speak differently; they align around a shared mindset, strategy, and capabilities. In turn, they actively track leading and lagging growth indicators to tie their aspirations to clear and measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). They explore and invest in opportunities both within and outside their core business. Their commitment to growth leads them to invest in an appropriate mix of enablers at the right time and scale, and they stay resolutely faithful to their growth vision in the face of unexpected challenges in their business and operating context, even turning disruption to their advantage.

Drawing on McKinsey’s extensive research into growth and leadership as well as our experience in partnering with leaders in every sector on sustainable, profitable growth , this article explores what happens when business leaders make and follow through on a purposeful choice to grow. 3 For more, see Mehrdad Baghai, Stephen Coley, and David White, The Alchemy of Growth , Basic Books, September 1999; Mehrdad Baghai, Patrick Viguerie, and Sven Smit, The granularity of growth: How to identify the sources of growth and drive enduring company performance , John Wiley & Sons, 2007. The leader’s blueprint for growth shows how subtle changes in thoughts and actions arising from choice can make the difference between sustained standout growth and remaining with the pack.

When a business leader chooses growth, that choice begins to shape behavior, mindset, risk appetite, and investment decisions, creating a growth orientation across the organization. In fact, growth leaders across the C-suite are 70 percent more likely than peers to have growth as their top priority. 4 Biljana Cvetanovski, Eric Hazan, Jesko Perrey, and Dennis Spillecke, “ Are you a growth leader? The seven beliefs and behaviors that growth leaders share ,” McKinsey, September 26, 2019.

Growth-oriented leaders also shape their thinking and actions toward growth over both short- and long-term horizons. They react decisively to shorter-term disruptions that can be turned into opportunities—what we term “ timely jolts ”—and build organizational resilience and agility to respond to change and leverage disruption. These leaders follow a timeless blueprint for growth that flows from mindset into growth pathways and execution (Exhibit 1).

Set an aspirational mindset and culture

C-suite growth leaders share a common series of mindsets and behaviors from their communications to their willingness to learn through failure. Those who display at least three of the five key growth mindsets are 2.4 times more likely to profitably outgrow their peers (Exhibit 2).

The first part of the timeless holistic growth blueprint is to support aspirations with clear targets, milestones, and motivators—creating a North Star that feeds the broader strategic and cultural narrative of the business. Leaders are able to commit their company to action and maintain this focus in the face of timely jolts, inspiring an organization-wide culture that continually seeks out and pursues growth opportunities.

On the other hand, the leader who aspires to growth but underinvests in initiatives or removes funding from growth is one whose actions do not match their aspirations. C-suite leaders who choose growth are much less likely to yield when challenges arise, finding opportunity in headwinds and reasons to innovate where others retreat to conventional defensive playbooks.

A further differentiator of growth leaders is their ability to build organizational buy-in, including from the board and investors. They tend to directly involve the board in their growth planning and they proactively communicate with investors 5 For more, see “ Where companies with a long-term view outperform their peers ,” McKinsey Global Institute, February 8, 2017. using significant and credible targets to show how the growth plan will generate value. Growth leaders allocate the resources required to achieve goals and are more willing to change their operating model to enable growth, if that is what is needed.

Activate the growth pathways

When leaders choose growth and develop the right leadership mindsets and behaviors to support that choice, their natural position is to look for opportunity wherever it exists. Those companies that set growth strategies to address all available pathways to growth are 97 percent more likely to achieve profitable above-peer growth.

The second part of the timeless holistic growth blueprint is activating three pathways: expanding the core business, innovating into new markets and adjacencies, and purposefully pursuing opportunities for breakthrough growth through new-business building or mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

The most successful companies are able to balance and sequence these growth choices in response to their changing operating environments, advances in technology, and emerging customer needs and preferences.

Rippled effect on liquid surface caused by the touch of a iridescent sphere

Mindset to action: Imperatives for Growth

Expand the core business.

Growth begins with the core, and growth leaders understand the importance of optimizing their current core business. With more than 80 percent of total revenue growth, on average, derived from the core, achieving excellence in current operations is crucial. 6 Statistics in this section are based on McKinsey’s analysis of data from Corporate Performance Analytics by McKinsey, regulatory filings, and S&P Global, for the period 2005–19; we have analyzed the 3,000 largest public companies as of 2018 reporting revenues by segment. Total revenue growth split is derived from the summation of the respective company segment revenues in this sample. Some sectors—healthcare, for example—achieve as much as 90 percent of growth from the core business, while others, such as financial services, generate around 74 percent from the core and 23 percent or more from adjacent opportunities (Exhibit 3).

These variations are partly explained by the idiosyncrasies of different industries. For example, healthcare businesses make long-term R&D and capital investments for innovation, but their patents enable them to generate most of their growth within the core. Financial-services companies, on the other hand, tend to be more able to move into adjacent services, with many companies actively making big bets across industry sub-sectors (eg, investment banks entering wealth management, and vice versa).

Regardless of industry, growth leaders turbocharge their core through a mix of strategic shifts to higher growth pockets (for example, shifting product mix to higher growth value or premium segments and higher growth channels such as e-commerce), innovation of the core products and services, and improved executional excellence in their commercial capabilities.

Having a growth mindset is especially important for the core business. Growth outperformers almost always grow their core—either through their main products, sectors, or local market. In fact, it is unlikely that they can raise their growth trajectory without winning in their local market. 7 Defined as the largest region in the portfolio by revenue.  In fact, fewer than one in five of the companies in our sample that had below-average growth rates in their local region managed to outperform their peers in growth.

Whatever the exact mix of strategies and focus areas, growth leaders are maximizing their core through all available means. And they are twice as likely to report having identified pockets of growth within their existing business.

Innovate into adjacencies

Having a strong core is essential. Outperformers build beyond it to achieve their growth aspirations. Businesses that expand into adjacent industries or segments are 20 percent more likely to achieve greater growth than their peers.

The obvious places to look for growth are new geographies and adjacent industries where growth leaders can adapt their existing offerings to serve new customer segments. For example, CVS Health transformed into a consumer-centric, integrated health solutions company by expanding its business from pharmacy and retail to healthcare services, which accounted for 67 percent of the company’s revenue growth from 2005–19.

Growth leaders recognize the need to unlock the next wave of growth through expansion beyond the core. However, choosing the best adjacencies is critical. Growth leaders are increasingly harnessing advanced analytics to identify promising or previously overlooked opportunities that leverage core competencies and provide a good chance to establish a strong leadership position. McKinsey research shows that businesses that expand to adjacencies with high similarity to their core and exploit their unique competitive advantages are more likely to profitably outperform their peers on growth.

Outperformers use the full growth blueprint to excel in adjacencies, with a particular focus on strategies that build on core competencies. They use and refresh growth maps to consistently surface opportunities, to understand which are most achievable, and set growth strategies to capture them. They choose among the different avenues to grow adjacently, such as M&A or business building, and they evolve their operating models to support these growth choices.

Growth leaders are also increasingly building ecosystems around their core capabilities and assets and deploying new offerings into adjacent products or markets. Tencent, for instance, has become an Asian tech giant worth around $500 billion through its online platforms that include messaging, gaming, payments, e-commerce and advertising—in addition to evolving its social messaging app WeChat into an extensive “super app.” Tencent’s full ecosystem offering spans fintech , entertainment and media, cab hailing, location sharing, and more, fueling a revenue compound annual growth rate of 28 percent over the decade 2011 to 2021.

Ignite breakout businesses

According to McKinsey research on more than 1,000 business leaders, on average, executives believe 50 percent of their revenues will come from new products, services, or businesses within the next five years. Not surprisingly, many are looking beyond natural adjacencies to exploit entirely new business opportunities. Between 2018 and 2020, “new-business building” doubled its appearances among the top three items on executive agendas.

Expanding into new markets through business building can unlock new opportunities without cannibalizing existing products and services. Done right, the rewards can be well worth the risk, as illustrated by a number of growth leaders across different industries.

Amazon famously expanded beyond its e-commerce business into public cloud services through Amazon Web Services (AWS). By leveraging its core competencies of brand and commercial strength, it built AWS into a business that generated $62 billion revenue.

Science and technology innovator Danaher Corporation combatted the single-digit growth in its core industrial businesses by looking toward high-growth markets in life sciences and niche diagnostics. After testing the waters with small acquisitions and investing heavily in its platforms business, Danaher spun off its old industrial core, Fortive, repositioned life sciences and diagnostics as its new core business—and beat the S&P 500 by 3.8 times between 2002 and 2016. While core growth is critical, investments in breakout opportunities could enable a long-term shift to a new core within a higher-growth market.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs launched its first digital consumer business in 2016, allowing customers to bank from their phones. In the ensuing six years, it has attracted millions of customers, accumulated deposits of over $92 billion, and made more than $7 billion in loans via a combination of organic growth, acquisitions, and partnerships with Apple and Amazon.

Growth leaders can improve their odds of achieving growth in breakout opportunities by committing to innovation , identifying and understanding the needs and wants of valued customers, and developing the right value propositions to appeal to them. Given the accelerating pace of innovation, growth leaders also look to agile methodologies , strategic alliances, and M&A, with a willingness to rapidly test and learn, fail and iterate, and invest in scaling opportunities.

Of course, pursuing breakout growth can require longer-term investment and commitment before seeing returns. That’s why growth leaders need the mettle to stay the course and make significant investments—or the sense to know when to call it quits.

Execute with excellence

This is the critical and third portion of the timeless holistic growth blueprint, where strategy meets action, and orchestrated execution is the final step in achieving growth. Execution works hand-in-hand with strategy to empower leaders to make the right choices at the right time to drive both short-term and long-term growth.

Leaders who choose growth support their ambitions by prioritizing a critical set of execution enablers: operating model and resource allocation, ecosystems, M&A, joint ventures and alliances, and functional capabilities.

Built-for-growth operating models and resource allocation

Leaders who fully commit to growth choose these initiatives for purposeful and assertive investment and are 60 percent more likely to regularly reallocate resources from lower-return to higher-return spaces. These leaders fund more dynamically, relying less on historical budgets that can be psychologically “anchoring,” and they actively explore how to fuel growth without eroding their existing core businesses. 8 Tim Koller, Dan Lovallo, and Olivier Sibony, “ Bias busters: Being objective about budgets ,” McKinsey Quarterly , September 28, 2018; Michael Birsham, Marja Engel, and Olivier Sibony, “ Avoiding the quicksand: Ten techniques for more agile corporate resource allocation ,” McKinsey Quarterly , October 1, 2013.

Alongside this willingness to dynamically reallocate resources , growth leaders are more likely to have multiple, tailored operating models to support their unique growth initiatives and opportunities. While the core business may have a distinct, more traditional operating model, breakout opportunities may adopt a more agile, learning-driven operating approach , for example, having small, cross-functional teams with the autonomy to focus on rapidly building and testing products, features, or services with customers. They segment their product-development processes and combine standard product-development stage gates for incremental innovations while using venture-capital-inspired stage gates and funding mechanisms for bolder growth projects. This agility helps them respond robustly to timely jolts and opportunities.

In managing performance, growth leaders adopt a growth vocabulary, leveraging the adage, “You get what you measure.” They actively track leading and lagging growth-oriented metrics, such as recurring revenue, revenue per customer, and customer-acquisition cost, tying them to organizational goals and incentives.

Strengthen ecosystems, M&A, and joint ventures

Specialization in a sea of sameness is a differentiator. That’s why growth leaders often look outside of their businesses to find quick access to complementary skills and capabilities to buy or scale innovation and growth. Those who do this are 30 to 50 percent more likely to continually scan for these types of alliances, joint ventures, and M&A opportunities.

In recent years, digital M&A has become increasingly popular and effective, accounting for double the share of all M&A value from 2011–21. Businesses are becoming increasingly strategic about how they evaluate and leverage these digital transactions, from acquiring new talent and capabilities to accessing new markets and products. 9 Michael Bogobowicz, Anika Pflanzer, Leandro Santon, and Brett Wilson, “ How to find and maximize digital value in any M&A deal ,” McKinsey, November 9, 2020; CapitaIQ, McKinsey analysis. Many companies with programmatic M&A strategies (that is, steadily growing through two or more acquisitions of less than 30 percent of their own market cap per year) have added digital-investment themes to their M&A blueprints. Over almost 20 years of research, it has become clear that programmatic M&A is the only M&A strategy that delivers outsized total shareholder return (TSR) . M&A investment themes, especially those on digital M&A, should be highly specific and clearly articulate how they will add value for the acquirer.

Forming ecosystems with partners is another way to build capabilities and expand offerings more quickly, while simultaneously enhancing customer experience and enlarging reach and innovation opportunities across the ecosystem. This creates value along two dimensions—it allows participants to consolidate a range of customers, often across sectors, and to play a pivotal role in optimizing touchpoints in both B2C and B2B.

Functional capabilities

Execution is impossible without the right functional strengths and growth leaders identify which new functional capabilities are needed—or need to change—to support growth initiatives, both in the short term and over longer-term innovation horizons.

From building out AI and advanced analytics platforms to deepening their customer experience capabilities—and even enhancing or modernizing existing capabilities like pricing and marketing—growth leaders ensure the organization’s capabilities are positioned to fuel growth. While the exact blend varies by industry and company, a common cross-sectoral focus point is harnessing digital and analytics to revamp distribution, marketing returns, customer value management (CVM), 10 Customer value management is a systematic approach to working with loyal customers. It is based on personalized offerings targeted to meet particular customer needs, created using advanced analytics, and aimed at increasing lifetime customer value through raising purchasing frequency and average basket size. and dynamic pricing. 11 Rachel Diebner, David Malfara, Kevin Neher, Mike Thompson, and Maxence Vancauwenberghe, “ Prediction: The future of CX ,” McKinsey Quarterly , February 24, 2021; Ralph Breuer, Kedar Naik, Bogdan Toma, and Martina Yanni, “ Executive quick take: A guide to implementing marketing-and-sales transformations that unlock sustainable growth ,” McKinsey, September 23, 2019; Matt Deimund, Michael Drory, Daniel Law, and Maria Valdivieso, “ The five things sales-growth winners do to invest in their people ,” McKinsey, October 9, 2018; Minti Ray, Stefano Redaelli, Sidney Santos, Jared Sclove, and Andrew Wong, “ Accelerating revenue growth through tech-enabled commercial excellence ,” McKinsey, December 4, 2019.

In distribution, e-commerce is a powerful lever for collecting valuable digital customer data along the purchasing journey and ensuring effective and measurable media spend. Nike, for example, was able to increase its nike.com e-commerce platform’s contribution to sales from 7.5 percent to 24 percent, thereby fuelling a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 percent from 2017–21, a time frame that includes the height of the pandemic. 12 Statista, ecommerceDB, and S&P Capital IQ.

For customer value management, investing in greater personalization through advanced analytics and digital capabilities can improve both the customer experience and client lifetime value. American Express, for instance, leverages advanced analytics to provide customized recommendations to customers based on their location, opening additional transaction opportunities both for their partners and for their own credit cards.

Greater analytical sophistication enables companies to differentiate pricing across dimensions such as region, channel, and customer lifecycle. 13 Claus Heintzeler, Mathias Kullman, Karin Lauer, and Maximilian Totzauer, “ Pricing and promotions: The analytics opportunity ,” McKinsey, June 28, 2021. A leading Asian e-commerce company was able to increase gross margins by ten percentage points and gross merchandise value by three percentage points by developing a dynamic pricing capability. 14 Gadi BenMark, Sebastian Klapdor, Mathias Kullmann, and Ramji Sundararajan, “ How retailers can drive profitable growth through dynamic pricing ,” McKinsey, March 27, 2017.

Commercial capabilities are bolstered by investments in digital—in fact, growth leaders are 60 percent more likely to have successfully used AI and advanced analytics to predict customer behaviors and become a “sensing and predicting” organization. Growth leaders also tend to invest in expanding and deepening their customer experience capabilities to streamline and personalize customer journeys.

Beyond the commercial excellence, growth leaders map R&D and product development portfolios, balanced across incremental innovations and bolder long-term breakout initiatives with clear mapping to the capabilities needed to execute. Tangentially, it is imperative to ensure that growth leaders are investing in their people, creating a pipeline of talent that will help strengthen and broaden the tools needed to achieve their growth aspirations.

Choosing to grow: the subtle difference between success and failure

The growth blueprint defines the timeless elements on which leaders need to focus diligently once they’ve made a deliberate and purposeful choice to grow.

This blueprint prepares an organization to grow in the face of timely jolts. The blueprint encourages leaders to answer a series of clear questions:

  • Am I setting the right aspiration, mindset, and culture to encourage growth? Are my ambitions high enough, and how can I ensure my organization has the full potential to achieve it?
  • Am I actively choosing growth opportunities across my core and adjacencies?
  • Am I establishing the right enablers to execute against my growth aspirations and strategies?
  • Do I have the right operating model and resource allocation to achieve my growth ambitions?
  • And am I investing in the right functional capabilities?

The choices leaders make in response to these questions differentiate those who achieve growth from those who aspire to it but don’t get results.

Take two leaders of similar-sized businesses operating in the same market. Both see an opportunity for growth and pursue it, but their outcomes are very different. Why?

The one who made a choice to grow aligned their board and leadership team on the company’s direction and dedicated the necessary resources to growth. They adapted the operating model for the long term and understood the risk profile of the new businesses they were trying to build. They invested meaningfully in building the right functional capabilities, sometimes at the expense of a few quarters of earnings, to achieve their long-term growth aspirations.

The other leader, who didn’t explicitly “choose growth,” also did a lot of things right. They hired the right talent and took the time to understand the new businesses they wanted to build. They believed they were allocating enough resources to growth, but ultimately their focus was divided by an emphasis on quarterly earnings and short-term profitability. Though they aspired to growth, they didn’t have the long-term strategy or commitment to achieve it. They tried to protect the management team so they could meet their short-term goals but didn’t secure buy-in from the board for long-term growth initiatives.

Making the conscious choice to grow creates powerful momentum that orients the entire business toward that goal, from the C-suite to frontline employees. The growth blueprint defines the timeless elements on which leaders need to focus diligently once they have made a deliberate and purposeful choice to grow. It also prepares an organization to unlock growth opportunities in timely jolts. The clarity of purpose and vision that comes from choice is what helps leaders and their teams believe in the seemingly impossible and make it happen.

Michael Birshan is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office, where Biljana Cvetanovski is a partner; Rebecca Doherty is a partner in the San Francisco office; Tjark Freundt is a senior partner in the Hamburg office; Andre Gaeta is an associate partner in the Sao Paulo office; Greg Kelly is a senior partner in the Atlanta office; Erik Roth is a senior partner in the Stamford office; Ishaan Seth and Jill Zucker are senior partners in the New York office.

The authors wish to thank Jaidit Brar, Luis Cerquiera, Vincent Cremers, Brian Gregg, Eric Hazan, Martin Hirt, Anna Koivuniemi, Pablo Leon, Duncan Miller, and Dennis Spillecke for their contributions to this article.

We are also grateful to the many McKinsey colleagues who contributed their industry expertise and perspectives to this research: Marco Aukofer, Matt Banholzer, Kurt Bazarewski, Dani Ebersole, Stephen Guerin, Tim Koller, Karin Löffler, Katherine Lovemore, Patrick McCurdy, Sakina Mehenni, Camille Meeùs, Bridget Morton, Michael Park, Tido Röder, Jeff Rudnicki, Manny Sasson, Balint Stellek, Marija Vukojevic, Qian Wan, and Michelle Wycoff.

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Company Growth Strategy: 7 Key Steps for Business Growth & Expansion

Sujan Patel

Published: April 17, 2023

A concrete growth strategy is more than a marketing strategy, it's a crucial cog in your business machine. Without one, you're at the mercy of a fickle consumer base and market fluctuations.

graphic showing person building a business growth strategy

So, how do you plan to grow?

Download Now: Free Growth Strategy Template

If you're unsure about the steps needed to craft an effective growth strategy, we've got you covered.

Business Growth

Business growth is a stage where an organization experiences unprecedented and sustained increases in market reach and profit avenues. This can happen when a company increases revenue, produces more products or services, or expands its customer base.

For the majority of businesses, growth is the main objective. With that in mind, business decisions are often made based on what would contribute to the company’s continued growth and overall success. There are several methods that can facilitate growth which we'll explain more about below.

business growth action plan

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  • Sales and Revenue Growth
  • Growth of Customer Base
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Types of Business Growth

As a business owner, you have several avenues for growth. Business growth can be broken down into the following categories:

With organic growth, a company expands through its own operations utilzing its own internal resources. This is in contrast to having to seek out external resources to facilitate growth.

An example of organic growth is making production more efficient so you can produce more within a shorter time frame, which leads to increased sales. A perk of utilizing organic growth is that it relies on self-sufficiency and avoids taking on debt. Additionally, the increased revenue created from organic growth can help fund more strategic growth methods later on. We’ll explain that below.

2. Strategic

Strategic growth involves developing initiatives that will help your business grow long term. An example of strategic growth could be coming up with a new product or developing a market strategy to target a new audience.

Unlike organic growth, these initiatives often require a significant amount of resources and funding. Businesses often take an organic approach first in hopes that their efforts will generate enough capital to invest in future strategic growth initiatives.

3. Internal

Internal growth strategy seeks to optimize internal business processes to increase revenue. Similar to organic growth, this strategy relies on companies using their own internal resources. Internal growth strategy is all about using existing resources in the most purposeful way possible.

An example of internal growth could be cutting wasteful spending and running a leaner operation by automating some of its functions instead of hiring more employees. Internal growth can be more challenging because it forces companies to look at how their processes can be improved and made more efficient rather than focusing on external factors like entering new markets to facilitate growth.

4. Mergers, Partnerships, Acquisitions

Although riskier than the other growth types, mergers, partnerships, and acquisitions can come with high rewards. There’s strength in numbers and a well-executed merger, partnership, or acquisition can help your business break into a new market, expand your customer base, or increase your products and services on offer.

Business Growth Strategy

A growth strategy is a plan that companies make to expand their business in a specific aspect, such as yearly revenue, number of customers, or number of products. Specific growth strategies can include adding new locations, investing in customer acquisition, or expanding a product line.

A company's industry and target market influence which growth strategies it will choose. Strategize, consider the available options, and build some into your business plan. Depending on the kind of company you're building, your growth strategy might include aspects like:

  • Adding new locations
  • Investing in customer acquisition
  • Franchising opportunities
  • Product line expansions
  • Selling products online across multiple platforms

Your particular industry and target market will influence your decisions, but it's almost universally true that new customer acquisition will play a sizable role. That said, there are different types of overarching growth strategies you can adopt before making a specific choice, such as adding new locations. Let’s take a look.

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Fill out this form to access your template, types of business growth strategies.

There are several general growth strategies that your organization can pursue. Some strategies may work in tandem. For instance, a customer growth and market growth strategy will usually go hand-in-hand.

Revenue Growth Strategy

A revenue growth strategy is an organization’s plan to increase revenue over a time period, such as year-over-year. Businesses pursuing a revenue growth strategy may monitor cash flow , leverage sales forecasting reports , analyze current market trends, diminish customer acquisition costs , and pursue strategic partnerships with other businesses to improve the bottom line.

Specific revenue growth tactics may include:

  • Investing in sales training programs to boost close rates
  • Leveraging technology to improve sales forecasting reports
  • Using lower-cost marketing strategies to lower customer acquisition costs
  • Continuing to train customer service reps
  • Partnering with another company to promote your products and services

Customer Growth Strategy

A customer growth strategy is an organization’s plan to boost new customer acquisitions over a time period, such as month-over-month. Businesses pursuing a customer growth strategy may be more open to making large strategic investments, as long as the investments lead to greater customer acquisitions.

For this strategy, you may track customer churn rates , calculate customer lifetime value , and leverage pricing strategies to attract more customers. You might also spend more on marketing, sales, and CX , with new customer sign-ups as the north star metric.

Specific customer growth tactics may include:

  • Investing in your marketing and sales organization’s headcount
  • Increasing advertising and marketing spend
  • Opening new locations in a promising market you’ve not yet reached
  • Adding new product lines and services
  • Adopting a discount or freemium pricing strategy
  • Tracking metrics such as churn rates, customer lifetime value, and MRR

Marketing Growth Strategy

A marketing growth strategy — which is related, but not the same as, a market development strategy — is an organization’s plan to increase their total addressable market (TAM) and increase existing market share. Businesses pursuing a marketing growth strategy will research different verticals, customer types, audiences, regions, and more to measure the viability of a market expansion.

Specific marketing growth tactics may include:

  • Rebranding the business to appeal to a new audience
  • Launching new products to appeal to buyers in a new market
  • Opening new locations in other regions
  • Adopting a different marketing strategy, e.g local marketing or event marketing , to appeal to new markets
  • Becoming a franchisor so that individual business owners can buy franchises from you

Product Growth Strategy

A product growth strategy is an organization’s plan to increase product usage and sign-ups, or expand product lines. This type of growth strategy requires a significant investment into the organization’s product and engineering team (at SaaS organizations). In the retail industry, a product growth strategy may look like partnering with new manufacturers to expand your product catalog.

Specific tactics may include:

  • Adding new features and benefits to existing products
  • Adopting a freemium pricing strategy
  • Adding new products to the existing product line
  • Partnering with new manufacturers and providers
  • Expanding into new markets and verticals to increase product adoption

Not sure what all of this can look like for your business? Here are some actionable tactics for achieving growth.

How to Grow a Company Successfully

  • Use a growth strategy template.
  • Choose your targeted area of growth.
  • Conduct market and industry research.
  • Set growth goals.
  • Plan your course of action.
  • Determine your growth tools and requirements.
  • Execute your plan.

1. Use a growth strategy template [Free Tool] .

HubSpot Growth Strategy Template

Image Source

Don’t hit the ground running without planning out and documenting the steps for your growth strategy. We recommend downloading this free Growth Strategy Template and working off the included section prompts to outline your intended process for growth in your organization.

2. Choose your targeted area of growth.

It’s great that you want to grow your business, but what exactly do you want to grow?

Your business growth plan should hone in on specific areas of growth. Common focuses of strategic growth initiatives might include:

  • Growth in employee headcount
  • Expansion of current office, retail, and/or warehouse space
  • Addition of new locations or branches of your business
  • Expansion into new regions, locations, cities, or countries
  • Addition of new products and/or services
  • Expanding purchase locations (i.e. selling in new stores or launching an online store)
  • Growth in revenue and/or profit
  • Growth of customer base and/or customer acquisition rate

It’s possible that your growth plan will encompass more than one of the initiatives outlined above, which makes sense — the best growth doesn't happen in a vacuum. For example, growing your unit sales will result in growth in revenue — and possibly additional locations and headcount to support the increased sales.

3. Conduct market and industry research.

After you’ve chosen what you want to grow, you’ll need to justify why you want to grow in this area (and if growth is even possible).

Researching the state of your industry is the best way to determine if your desired growth is both necessary and feasible. Examples could include running surveys and focus groups with existing and potential customers or digging into existing industry research.

The knowledge and facts you uncover in this step will shape the expectations and growth goals for this project to better determine a timeline, budget, and ultimate goal. This brings us to step four…

4. Set growth goals.

Once you’ve determined what you’re growing and why you’re growing, the next step is to determine how much you’ll be growing.

These goals should be based on your endgame aspirations of where you ideally want your organization to be, but they should also be achievable and realistic – which is why setting a goal based on industry research is so valuable.

Lastly, take the steps to quantify your goals in terms of metrics and timeline. Aiming to "grow sales by 30% quarter-over-quarter for the next three years" is much clearer than "increasing sales."

5. Plan your course of action.

Next, outline how you’ll achieve your growth goals with a detailed growth strategy. Again – we suggest writing out a detailed growth strategy plan to gain the understanding and buy-in of your team.

Growth Action Plan Downloadable Template

Download this Template

This action plan should contain a list of action items, deadlines, teams or persons responsible, and resources for attaining your growth goal.

6. Determine your growth tools and requirements.

The last step before acting on your plan is determining any requirements your team will need through the process. These are specific resources that will help you meet your growth goals faster and with more accuracy. Examples might include:

  • Funding: Organizations may need a capital investment or an internal budget allocation to see this project through.
  • Tools & Software: Consider what technological resources may be needed to expedite and/or gain insights from the growth process.
  • Services: Growth may be better achieved with the help of consultants, designers, or planners in a specific field.

7. Execute your plan.

With all of your planning, resourcing, and goal-setting complete, you’re now ready to execute your company growth plan and deliver results for the business.

Throughout this time, make sure you’re holding your stakeholders accountable, keeping the line of communication open, and comparing initial results to your forecasted growth goals to see if your projected results are still achievable or if anything needs to be adjusted.

Your growth plan and the tactics you leverage will ultimately be specific to your business, but there are some universal strategies you can implement when getting started.

To expand a business and its revenue, companies can implement different strategies for growth. Examples of growth strategy include:

Growth Strategy Examples

  • Viral Loops
  • Milestone Referrals
  • Word-of-Mouth
  • The 'When They Zig, We Zag' Approach
  • In-Person Outreach
  • Market Penetration
  • Market Development
  • Product Development
  • Growth Alliances
  • Acquisitions
  • Organic Growth
  • Social Media
  • Excellent Customer Service

Growth Strategy Examples

1. Viral Loops

Some growth strategies are tailored to be completely self-sustainable. They require an initial push, but ultimately, they rely primarily (if not solely) on users' enthusiasm to keep them going. One strategy that fits that bill is the viral loop.

The basic premise of a viral loop is straightforward:

  • Someone tries your product.
  • They're offered a valuable incentive to share it with others.
  • They accept and share with their network.
  • New users sign up, see the incentive for themselves, and share with their networks.

For instance, a cloud storage company trying to get off the ground might offer users an additional 500 MB for each referral.

Ideally, your incentive will be compelling enough for users to actively and enthusiastically encourage their friends and family to get on board. At its best, a viral loop is a self-perpetuating acquisition machine that operates 24/7/365.

That said, viral loops are not guaranteed to go viral, and they’ve become less effective as they’ve become more commonplace. But the potential is still there.

Part of the appeal is that the viral loop flips the traditional funnel upside-down:

Growth strategy viral loop

Instead of needing as many leads as possible at the top, a viral loop funnel requires just one satisfied user to share with others. As long as every referral results in at least 1.1 new users, the system continues growing.

2. Milestone Referrals

The milestone referral model is similar to the viral loop in that it relies on incentives to kickstart and sustain it. But milestone referrals add a more intricate, progressive element to the process.

Companies that leverage viral loops generally offer a flat, consistent offer for individual referrals — businesses that use milestone referrals offer rewards for hitting specific benchmarks. In many cases, "milestones" are metrics like the number of referred friends.

For example, a business might include different or increasingly enticing incentives that come with one, five, and 10 referrals as opposed to a fixed incentive for each referral. A company will often leverage this strategy to encourage users to bring on a volume of friends and family that suits its specific business goals.

The strategy also adds an engaging element to the referral process. When done right, milestone referrals are simple to share with relatively straightforward objectives and enticing, tangible products as rewards.

3. Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth is organic and effective. Recommendations from friends and family are some of the most powerful incentives for consumers to purchase or try a product or service.

The secret of word-of-mouth’s effectiveness lies in a deeply rooted psychological bias all people have — we subconsciously believe the majority knows better.

Social proof is central to most successful sales copywriting and broader content marketing efforts. That's why businesses draw so much attention to their online reputations.

They know in today's customer-driven world — one where communication methods change and information is available to all — a single negative blog post or tweet can compromise an entire marketing effort.

Pete Blackshaw , the father of digital word-of-mouth growth, says, "satisfied customers tell three friends; angry customers tell 3,000."

The key with word-of-mouth is to focus on a positive user experience. You need to grow a base of satisfied customers and sustain the wave of loyal feedback that comes with it.

With this method, you have to focus on delivering a spectacular user experience, and users will spread the word for you.

4. The "When They Zig, We Zag" Approach

Sometimes the best growth strategy a company can employ is standing out — offering a unique experience that sets it apart from other businesses in its space. When monotony defines an industry, the company that breaks it often finds an edge.

Say your company developed an app for transitioning playlists between music streaming apps. Assume you have a few competitors who all generate revenue through ads and paid subscriptions — both of which frustrate users.

In that case, you might be best off trying to shed some of the baggage that customers run into trouble with when using your competitors' programs. If your service is paid, you could consider offering a free trial of an ad-free experience — right off the bat.

The point here is that there's often a lot of value and opportunity in differentiating yourself. If you can "zig when they zag", you can capture consumers' attention and capitalize on their shifting interests.

5. In-Person Outreach

It might be a while before this particular approach can be employed again, but it's effective enough to warrant a mention. Sometimes, adding a human element to your growth strategy can help set things in motion for your business.

Prospects are often receptive to a personal approach — and there's nothing more personal than immediate, face-to-face interactions. Putting boots on the ground and personally interfacing with potential customers can be a great way to get your business the traction it needs to get going.

This could mean hosting or sponsoring events, attending conferences relevant to your space, hiring brand ambassadors, or any other way to directly and strategically reach out to your target demographic in person.

6. Market Penetration

Competition is a necessary part of business. Imagine that two companies in the same industry are targeting the same consumers. Typically, whatever customers Business A has, Business B does not. Market penetration is a strategy that builds off of this tug-of-war.

Market penetration increases the market share — the percentage of total sales in an industry generated by a company — of a product within a given industry. Coca-Cola, the most popular carbonated beverage in the United States, has a 42.8% market share. If competitors like Pepsi and Sprite were looking to increase market penetration, they would need to increase market share. This increase would imply that they are acquiring customers that were previously buying Coca-Cola or other carbonated beverage brands.

While lowering prices and advertising are two costly yet effective tactics to increase market share, they are part of a series of methods businesses can use for overall sales and customer retention.

7. Development

If a company feels as if they have plateaued and its current market no longer has room for growth, it might switch strategies from market penetration to market development. While market penetration focuses on a company and its current market, market development strategies lead businesses to tap into a new one.

Companies can decide to manufacture new products or find an innovative use for their project. Take Uber. Although few would say that the rideshare company has plateaued, six years after its launch in 2009, Uber launched UberEats, its online food ordering, and delivery platform. The company already had drivers set to take passengers to their destinations. Uber expanded their idea and has become one of the biggest names in the food delivery industry.

8. Product Development

For growth, many businesses need to introduce something new. Product development — the creation of a new product or the enhancement of an existing one — allows companies to attract new customers and retain existing ones.

Online fast-fashion retailers are an example of this. A company like ASOS built its brand off of clothing. To appeal to a bigger customer base, it has since added face and body products, a collection made up of ASOS products and other popular brands. If an interested customer prefers to shop for their clothes, makeup, and skincare products at once, the brand now serves as a big draw.

9. Growth Alliances

Growth alliances are strategic collaborations between companies. They further the growth goals of the involved parties. Take JCPenney and Sephora. For Sephora, it can’t hurt for the makeup retailer to have more stores across the country. JCPenney, however, needed to keep up with powerhouses like Macy’s and its fully-fledged makeup section.

In 2006, Sephora began opening stores inside JCPenney. As of 2022, Sephora Inside JCPenney is now in over 574 stores. Simultaneously, JCPenney now carries a selection of makeup to rival competitors.

10. Acquisitions

Companies can use an acquisition strategy to promote growth. By acquiring other businesses, companies expand their operations through creating new products or expanding into a new industry. One of the more obvious ideas for growth, this strategy offers significant benefits to companies. They allow for faster growth, access to more customers, lower business risk, and more.

Founded in 1837, Procter & Gamble is a consumer goods company known for its acquisitions. It initially started in soaps and candles but currently has 65 acquired companies that have allowed it to expand into different markets. The list includes Pampers, Tide, Bounty, Tampax, Old Spice, and more. Although its sales dipped between 2016-2019, Procter & Gamble’s net sales for 2021 were $76 billion, its best year within the last decade.

11. Organic Growth

As mentioned previously, organic growth is the most ideal business growth strategy. It could look like focusing on SEO, developing engaging content, or prioritizing advertisements. Instead of focusing on external growth, organic growth is a sustainable strategy that promotes long-term success.

12. Leverage Social Media

Having a strong social media presence can be invaluable to marketing and business growth. Be sure to establish brand pages on all social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, etc. Social media can help you increase engagement with your target audience and make it easier for potential customers to find your brand. It’s also great for word-of-mouth promotion as existing customers will likely share your content with their network.

13. Provide Excellent Customer Service

It can be tempting to focus on acquiring new customers, but maintaining loyalty with your existing customers is just as important. Providing an excellent customer service experience ensures that you’ll continue to keep the customers you have, and there’s a good chance you’ll reap some referrals too.

The Key to Growing Your Business

Controlled, sustainable growth is the key to successful businesses. Industries are constantly changing, and it is the responsibility of companies to adapt to these changes.

Successful companies plan for growth. They work for it. They earn it. So what's your plan?

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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7 Steps to Developing a Growth Strategy That Delivers Results

Mackenzie | January 28, 2020 | Digital Marketing

You want to grow your company. But, you're not sure where to start. We get it. 

It'd be great if we could all just grow our businesses and companies by taking on more projects. Unfortunately, sustainable growth needs a little bit more direction and structure than that. 

If you're looking to grow your company by pulling in more of the right leads, and converting them more efficiently, you need to start developing a growth strategy. 

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What's a Growth Strategy?

A growth strategy is a detailed plan of action designed to help your company grow — that is, increase sales and revenue over a specific period of time. Effective growth strategies are specific, measurable, and focused on continuous improvement. 

No two growth strategies are exactly alike — they're unique depending on the company, the company's specific goals, and the resources you have available to implement that strategy. 

What is universal to all companies, however, is that you need a growth strategy if you want to build your company in a specific wa y : to close bigger deals, to shorten your sales cycle, and grow your company strategically for the best results. 

If you're working on developing a growth strategy that gets your company moving in the right direction, here are 7 steps you can take to start creating a growth strategy that delivers the tangible results you've been looking for. 

Use this menu to jump to the steps you're most interested, or read on through for the complete step-by-step guide to developing a growth strategy that delivers results. 

Start with SMART Growth Goals Develop Strategies to Support Those Growth Goals Consider Tools That Support Your Goals and Strategies Implement Your Growth Strategies Analyze Your Results Optimize Your Growth Strategy Set New SMART Growth Goals


#1 Start with SMART Growth Goals, Big and Small

You can't grow if you don't know where you're growing to. If you want to grow, you have to set goals. Otherwise, how will you measure your success?

Real, effective growth strategies start with SMART goals. We've got an entire post about how to determine your SMART goals , but here's a quick cliff-notes version: 

What are SMART Goals?

  • M easurable
  • A ttainable

So, "I want to grow my business," is not, in fact, a smart goal. It doesn't give you any mile-markers. It doesn't really tell you what you want, or where you want to be. 

A SMART goal is something like: I want to grow 20% in the next fiscal year. 

The Difference Between Big and Small SMART Goals

Now that's still a pretty broad goal, which is fine. You can have big growth goals, but it's also important to set small SMART goals too, so you know you're keeping your company on track. How are you going to reach that 20% growth mark by the end of the year? 

Examples of smaller growth goals that can help contribute to your big growth goal might be to:

  • Convert 500 leads per month. 
  • Close on 15 sales per month.
  • Generate at least $375,000 in new revenue per month.

One or all of these goals are great mile markers that help keep your team on track while moving to your big, overarching SMART goal. Defining these little goals also makes it easier to start developing strategies that put you closer to your big goals. 

Saying, "oh, I want to grow by 20% in the next year" sounds great. But it doesn't give you a lot of direction. Saying, "I want to convert 500 leads per month" does give you some direction — how are you generating leads now? How can you generate more leads? Are there lead generating tactics you haven't tried yet that you could check out?

Now you have a launching-off point to really start moving your company towards your growth goals. 

#2 Develop Strategies to Support Those Growth Goals

Okay, so you've got your SMART goals, big and small. Start with the small goals first. Let's go with generating 500 leads per month as our example.

If you're generating leads primarily through word of mouth , you have a lot of room to improve:

  • You can start developing a digital growth strategy that focuses on generating leads. 
  • You can increase your web presence, start implementing content marketing strategies, and try out lead capture tactics like landing pages, forms, and calls-to-action. 
  • If you don't have much of a digital presence, content marketing can get you the traffic you need to start converting digital leads. 

If you already have a web presence and are hoping to generate more leads , start by really drilling down on the efforts that work:

  • If you've been getting a ton of leads through your blog, up your posting schedule to once or twice a week instead twice a month.  
  • If your content offers deliver you seriously qualified leads, consider setting up an ad campaign around them. 
  • If you have an active list of newsletter subscribers, lean on them a little harder for conversions.  

You can also start expanding your lead generation efforts. Try new tactics like social media advertising, guest blogging, or adding more lead touch points to your marketing and sales process. 

The point is that if you have specific, attainable (etc.) goals, determining your plan of action is a lot easier. If you know exactly where you want to be, it's a little easier to figure out how to get there. 

#3 Consider Tools That Support Your Goals and Strategies

Another great way to bolster your growth strategy is to consider investing in tools and software that can make it easier for you to implement your new strategies and reach those growth goals. 

Using that same lead generation goal as an example, let's say that one of your new strategies is to start promoting your content more often, and follow up with new leads more promptly.

It's important to remember that all of these changes aren't always on your sales and marketing teams — there are plenty of tools out there that can help you reach these goals and implement these new efforts.

What Growth Tools Are Right for Me?

Consider investing in a social media publishing tool that allows you to schedule posts out when it's convenient for your team. 

Many marketing software platforms also offer automated email and workflow tools . The minute a lead downloads a content offer or signs up for your newsletter, you can have them automatically entered into a welcome workflow that sends them helpful, relevant communication that nurtures that lead for you. 

At Evenbound, we're big advocates for the, "work smarter, not harder" mindset. I mplementing a growth strategy can be tough work. If there are tricks and tools that can help you reach those growth goals more easily and that offer your leads and prospects better service, use them . 

Don't be afraid of tools because they're new or different. They can seriously help you reach those growth goals, usually faster than your team could do it on their own. 

#4 Implement Your Growth Strategies

Alright, now that you've got your goals nailed down and you've got a plan to reach them, it's time to launch! Put your growth strategies into action. Let your new marketing software do its work. 

And give your strategies a little bit of time, too. Especially if you're implementing inbound strategies meant to bolster your organic traffic, you probably won't see results overnight. That's okay. 

In general, you should wait at least a month before you start making judgement calls on the effectiveness of your new initiatives. For some tactics, you might even have to wait a few months to get a really clear picture of how your efforts are impacting your bottom line.

It's good to remember that you put time and effort into developing your growth strategies. If you did your research, at least some of your new tactics and strategies are going to deliver results. 

#5 Analyze Your Results

When your new strategies and growth campaigns have been running for a while, analyze them. Maybe that's at the one-month mark for tactics like paid advertising and new initiatives in your marketing and sales process.

For organic and inbound tactics like content marketing, you might give it two or three months before you take a good hard look at the results. Either way, when it's time to take a look at how far you've come, it's important to look at the big picture. Make sure you're analyzing both your wins and your challenges. 

Looking at the Big Picture: Wins

Let's say your new strategy is doing awesome. You've reached that 500 leads per month goal already, and you're only three months into your new strategy.

Don't just leave it at, "well, my strategy is working great". Take a look at which efforts specifically are generating those leads for you.

Are the majority of your leads coming to your site organically? If so, which pages are they coming to or landing on? 

Are your paid ads converting leads like crazy? Great! Which ads were most effective? 

Is your new marketing process shortening your sales cycle and converting qualified leads in just a week or two after their first touch? Amazing. What specific efforts are getting those leads so excited about your company?

The deeper you dig into your new growth strategies' results, the better you'll understand how you're generating those results. 

Looking at the Big Picture:  Challenges

This works the other way, too. Maybe you implemented a new email marketing strategy that totally flopped. Look at why it flopped.

Did you just not have the depth of email contacts you needed to make that strategy work? Were people not connecting with that specific message? How can you improve it for the next round of growth goals? 

The more you analyze your results, the better your growth strategy will perform in the long-term. When you know exactly what your leads respond best to, and why, you can continue on that upward growth trajectory, and you can keep optimizing your growth strategy with actual data and results in hand. Which brings us to step #6.

#6 Optimize Your Growth Strategy

After you analyze your results to death, it's important to use all of that information you've collected and actually put it to work. If a specific set of Facebook ads performed really well, start launching more campaigns with similar attributes. If your email marketing strategy didn't work, don't keep doing the same old thing — try something new! 

The great gift of analytics is that they give you the data you need to make changes and improvements. Use analytics to your advantage and apply what you've learned to your future growth tactics and strategies. When you do that, you're truly implementing a continuous growth strategy that will continue to support your company even as your goals change. 

#7 Set New SMART Growth Goals

The key to an effective growth strategy is a mindset of continuous improvement. Once you reach your growth goals, it's time to set new goals, and repeat the process. 

If you want your company to keep growing, your growth strategies have to change as your company does. Once you reach your first set of goals, re-evaluate where your company is, set new SMART goals, and keep developing your growth strategy to help you reach them. 

The best growth strategies are the ones that are constantly changing and adapting to your business' needs and goals . And it makes sense: a growth strategy that worked for a small business isn't going to work the same for a mid-sized business. Your growth strategy should evolve and adapt as your company continues to grow. 

The Most Effective Growth Strategy Is the One That's Continuously Improving

In the end, building a growth strategy that delivers results is all about setting up the structure and mindset your team needs to grow, and allowing plenty of space and flexibility to keep improving. The best growth strategies are the ones that grow and improve themselves. 

So, start with your SMART goals for right now, and keep moving that needle forward as your company grows. 

Developing a growth strategy and actually implementing it can seem like big, daunting work. If you're just not sure where to start, drop us a line ! We help companies like yours grow every day, and we'd be happy to answer any questions you've got about developing a growth strategy, sticking to it, or optimizing it as you reach your goals. 

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Writing a Business Growth Plan

Table of contents.

business growth action plan

When you run a business, it’s easy to get caught in the moment and focus only on the day in front of you. However, to be truly successful, you must look ahead and plan for growth. Many business owners create a business growth plan to map out the next one or two years and pinpoint how and when revenues will increase. 

We’ll explain more about business growth plans and share strategies for writing a business growth plan that can set you on a path to success. 

What is a business growth plan?

A business growth plan outlines where a company sees itself in the next one to two years. Business owners and leaders apply a growth mindset to create plans for expansion and increased revenues.

Business growth plans should be formatted quarterly. At the end of each quarter, the company can review the business goals it achieved and missed during that period. At this point, management can revise the business growth plan to reflect the current market standing.

What to include in a business growth plan

A business growth plan focuses specifically on expansion and how you’ll achieve it. Creating a useful plan takes time, but keeping your growth efforts on track can pay off substantially.

You should include the following elements in your growth plan:

  • A description of expansion opportunities
  • Financial goals broken down by quarter and year
  • A marketing plan that details how you’ll achieve growth
  • A financial plan to determine what capital is accessible during growth
  • A breakdown of your company’s staffing needs and responsibilities

Your growth plan should also include an assessment of your operating systems and computer networks to determine if they can accommodate profitable growth .

How to write a business growth plan

To successfully write a business growth plan, you must do some forward-thinking and research. Here are some key steps to follow when writing your business growth plan.

1. Think ahead.

The future is always unpredictable. However, if you study your target market, your competition and your company’s past growth, you can plan for future expansion. The Small Business Administration (SBA) features a comprehensive guide to writing a business plan for growth.

2. Study other growth plans.

Before you start writing, review models from successful companies.

3. Discover opportunities for growth.

With some homework, you can determine if your expansion opportunities lie in creating new products , adding more services, targeting a new market, opening new business locations or going global, to name a few examples. Once you’ve identified your best options for growth, include them in your plan.

4. Evaluate your team.

Your plan should include an assessment of your employees and a look at staffing requirements to meet your growth objectives. By assessing your own skills and those of your employees, you can determine how much growth can be accomplished with your present team. You’ll also know when to ramp up the hiring process and what skill sets to look for in those new hires.

5. Find the capital.

Include detailed information on how you will fund expansion. Business.gov offers a guide on how to prepare funding requests and how to connect with SBA lenders.

6. Get the word out.

Growing your business requires a targeted marketing effort. Be sure to outline how you will effectively market your business to encourage growth and how your marketing efforts will evolve as you grow.

7. Ask for help.

Advice from other business owners who have enjoyed successful growth can be the ultimate tool in writing your growth plan.

8. Start writing.

Business plan software has streamlined the process of writing growth plans by providing templates you can fill in with information specific to your company and industry. Most software programs are geared toward general business plans; however, you can easily modify them to create a plan that focuses on growth. 

If you don’t have business plan software, don’t worry. You can create a business growth plan using Microsoft Word, Google Docs or a similar tool. For each growth opportunity, create the following sections: 

  • What is the opportunity? Is your growth opportunity a new geographic expansion, a new product or a new customer segment? How do you know there’s an opportunity? Include your market research to demonstrate the idea’s viability.
  • What factors make this opportunity valuable at this time? For example, your growth opportunity could utilize new technology, take advantage of a strategic partnership or capitalize on a consumer trend.
  • What are the risk factors for this opportunity? Identify factors that may make this growth opportunity challenging to execute. For example, challenges may include the state of the overall economy, intense competition or supply chain distribution issues. What is your plan for dealing with these challenges?
  • What is your marketing and sales plan? Identify the marketing efforts and sales processes that can help you seize this growth opportunity. Detail the marketing channel you’ll use ( social media marketing , print marketing), your message and promising sales ideas. For example, you could hire sales reps for a new geographic area or set up distribution deals with relevant brick-and-mortar or online retailers .
  • What are the costs involved in this growth area? For example, if you add a new product, you may need to buy new manufacturing equipment and raw materials. While marketing costs are a given, remember to include incremental sales costs like commissions. Outline any economies of scale or places where your existing operations make the new growth area less expensive than a stand-alone initiative.
  • How will your income, expenses and cash flow look? Project your income and expenses, and prepare a cash flow statement for the new growth area for the next three to five years. Include a break-even analysis, a sales forecast and all projected expenses to see how much the new initiative will add to the bottom line. Include how the new growth area will positively (or negatively) impact existing sales. For example, if you sell bathing suits and you decide to grow by adding cover-ups and sunglasses, you will likely sell more bathing suits. 

A cash flow statement will indicate if you must secure additional financing, and a break-even analysis will let you know when the growth opportunity will stop being a drain on the company’s financial resources and start turning a profit.

After completing this exercise for each growth opportunity:

  • Create a summary that accounts for all growth areas for the period.
  • Include summarized financial statements to see the entire picture and its impact on the company. 
  • Evaluate the financing you’ll need to implement the plan, and include various options and rates. 

Why are business growth plans important?

These are some of the many reasons why business growth plans are essential:

  • Market share and penetration: If your market share remains constant in a world where costs consistently increase, you’ll inevitably start recording losses instead of profits. Business growth plans help you avoid this scenario.
  • Recouping early losses: Most companies lose far more than they earn in their early years. To recoup these losses, you’ll need to grow your company to a point where it can make enough revenue to pay off your debts.
  • Future risk minimization: Growth plans also matter for established businesses. These companies can always stand to make their sales more efficient and become more liquid. Liquidity can come in handy if you need money to cover unexpected problems.
  • Appealing to investors: For most businesses, a business growth plan’s primary purpose is to find investors . Investors want to outline your company’s plans to build sales in the coming months.
  • Concrete revenue plans: Growth plans are customizable to each business and don’t have to follow a set template. However, all business growth plans must focus heavily on revenue. The plan should answer a simple question: How does your company plan to make money each quarter?

Motivate your employees by sharing your growth plan. When employees see an opportunity for increased responsibility and compensation, they’re more likely to stay with your business.

What factors impact business growth?

Consider the following crucial factors that can impact business growth:

  • Leadership: To achieve your goals, you must know the ins and outs of your business processes and how external forces impact them. Without this knowledge, you can’t direct and train your team to drive your revenue, and you will experience stagnation instead of growth.
  • Management: As a small business owner, you’re innately involved in management – obtaining funding, resources, and physical and digital infrastructure. Ineffective management will impact your ability to perform these duties and could hamstring your growth.
  • Customer loyalty: Acquiring new customers can be five times as expensive as retaining current ones, and a 5 percent boost in customer retention can increase profits by 25 percent to 95 percent. These statistics demonstrate that customer loyalty is fundamental to business growth.

What are the four major growth strategies?

There are countless growth strategies for businesses, but only four primary types. With these growth strategies, you can determine how to build on your brand.

  • Market strategy: A market strategy refers to how you plan to penetrate your target audience . This strategy isn’t intended for entering a new market or creating new products and services to boost your market share; it’s about leveraging your current offerings. For instance, can you adjust your pricing? Should you launch a new marketing campaign?
  • Development strategy: This strategy means looking into ways to break your products and services into a new market. If you can’t find the growth you want in the current market, a goal could be to expand to a new market.
  • Product strategy: Also known as “product development,” this strategy focuses on what new products and services you can target to your current market. How can you grow your business without entering new markets? What are your customers asking for?
  • Diversification strategy: Diversification means expanding both your products and target markets. This strategy is usually best for smaller companies that have the means to be versatile with the products or services they offer and what new markets they attempt to penetrate.

Max Freedman contributed to this article.


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Growth Plan: What is it & How to Create One? (Steps Included)

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“I want to increase sales this quarter. I want to expand my business this year. I want to hire new employees this month. I want to improve the quality of my product by the end of this year. I want to hit a new market target.”

If you run a business, you’ve probably said these things or something similar a thousand times. After all, every business has a list of goals they want to achieve by a particular time.

In a perfect world, we’d set goals, and we’d reach them without much effort. Unfortunately, in the real world, there are a lot of things we need to do after setting goals, like creating a growth plan.

A growth plan isn’t just about the goals and future of your business, but also the strategies you would implement to make sure that your vision comes to life.

Considering the fact that 50% of businesses fail during their first five years and 66% fail during their first ten, creating a solid growth plan is quintessential.

So, in this blog post, we’re going to tell you all about growth plans and how you can create one that works like a charm. So buckle up because you’re in for a ride.

Growth Plan: What Exactly is it? (Definition)

A growth plan is a strategic plan about how every aspect of your business will walk towards attaining the business goals. With a growth plan in hand, you’ll know exactly what to do, how, and when to do it.

Even though a growth plan sounds like the marketing tactics you’d implement to grow your business, it’s a lot more than that. It encompasses an overview of everything you’d be doing to grow your business.

Let’s understand the concept of a growth plan better with an example.

Two employees setting goals for the company

Suppose you’re running a gaming laptop business. Your goal is to increase your sales by 60% over the next five years. To achieve this goal, you might need to carry out a plethora of tasks like:

  • Hiring new, more experienced sales reps.
  • Upgrading the product after conducting market research.
  • Finding investors who’d be willing to invest in the new version of the laptop.
  • Hiring a social media marketer to handle your business’s social media accounts.
  • Creating a TV advertisement that hits the right spot.

Now, you’d be writing all these things in your growth plan, along with other details like timeline, budget, name of the people responsible for carrying out a particular task, and more.

Want to know some other reasons why you need to create a growth plan? Let’s find out!

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Read more:  Growth Marketing: What is it & How to Carry it out for your Business?

3 Reasons Why You Should Create a Growth Plan

1. keeps you focused.

When you’re running a business, you usually try to flap your wings around in different places.

But, when some places don’t give you the results you expected, you get frustrated and realize that you wasted so much of your time and effort that you could’ve invested in other areas.

Well, a growth plan can help you avoid that frustration. With a growth plan, you’d know exactly what areas you should be focusing on and what areas you don’t need to pay attention to.

The result? You won’t be wasting any time and effort on places you won’t get any return from.

Read more:  Business Development Plan: What Is It And How To Create A Perfect One?

2. Helps You When Things Go Sideways

We don’t want to scare you, but the landscape of the market is changing at a rapid pace.

That means things in your business can go haywire at any time. But, you really don’t need to worry about that if you have got a strong growth plan in place.

Like we said above, in a growth plan, you write all the strategies that’d lead you to growth. When things go wrong, you can just pick one of the strategies, modify them according to the current scenario, and you’re good to go!

3. Gives You a Direction

Your business isn’t a road trip. You can’t go rogue and see where the road takes you. You need a roadmap, a direction…and that’s exactly what a growth plan gives you.

A growth plan shows you the way towards achieving your goals. It tells you the route you need to take to reach your goals . Without it, you might end up taking the wrong turn and reach a dead end.

To put it simply, when you have a growth plan with you, you’ll know all about what you need to do to make your business successful.

Considering the importance of a growth plan, creating it is not something you can rush through. There are some steps that you need to follow, and we’re going to tell you all about them.

How to Create a Growth Plan In 5 Easy-Peasy Steps?

Set 1. set goals.

Every plan starts with setting business goals , and a growth plan is no different.

After all, you can’t just say “I want this” and expect something to happen automatically. You need to define what exactly you want to achieve, i.e., you need to set your goals.

Also, always make sure that your goals are not vague but realistic and measurable. For instance, “ Increasing sales ” isn’t a solid goal. “ Increasing sales by 20% over the next 6 months ” is the kind of goal you can measure.

Step 2. Conduct Market Research

You might think that once you’ve decided on your goals, you can just go ahead and start creating strategies. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

There’s another important step that you need to follow: carrying out market research. Creating strategies without considering the market is not going to help you achieve your goals.

Examine your target audience, the condition of the market, and your competitors. Evaluate what your audience is looking for, how saturated the market is, and what your competitors are doing.

Step 3. Evaluate Your KPIs

Once you’ve done the market research, it’s time to get back home, aka your business, and do some digging. You need to find out what’s working for your business and what’s not.

The best way to figure that out is by evaluating your KPIs. For those who don’t know, KPIs stand for Key Performance Indicators. They are the metrics that are “key” in determining your business’s success.

By assessing your KPIs, you’ll find out the key areas that are giving you the most fruitful results. You can then target these areas while you’re brainstorming strategies for growth. This brings us to the next step:

Read more: KPI Report: What it is & How to Create a Perfect One?

Step 4. Create Strategies

Okay, so now you know everything about the market and your company, so you’re all set to create strategies that you’d be implementing to achieve your goals.

From hiring new sales reps to upgrading your existing product – your strategies can be anything, as long as they help you achieve your goals.

We don’t need to say this, but make sure that your strategies align with your present and future budget. You don’t want to overspend right now and then be short of money when you execute a future strategy.

Step 5. Execute Your Plan

Brace yourselves because it’s time to get the ball rolling and execute the plan. Start implementing all the strategies according to the timeline you’ve set.

However, there’s something that you need to remember: Your plan isn’t a static piece of document. You need to keep modifying and updating it as you go.

Just follow the old saying, ‘ grow through what you go through .’ A strategy isn’t giving the results you expected? Change it. A strategy is working too well? Increase its timeline. A strategy isn’t in trend anymore? Slash it.

Yay! You’ve now learned how to create a solid growth plan.

Now, all that’s left for you to learn is how to create it the right way . See, your growth plan is a VERY essential document. You can’t just type all the strategies out and think that your growth plan is ready.

Your plan needs to have a proper structure and layout. It needs to be easy on the eyes and easy to comprehend. Most of all, it needs to be written after getting inputs from all the departments in your business.

It seems like a tough and long process, doesn’t it? It’s not, because Bit.ai is a platform where you can do all this and more. Want to know more about Bit.ai? Read on!

Read more:   Growth Hacking: What is it & 21 Tools that can Help!

Bit.ai – The Perfect Tool for Creating Growth Plans & Other Business Documents

Bit.ai: Tool for creating growth plans

Yes, that’s the essence of Bit.ai – a document collaboration platform where you can create, organize, share and manage all company documents and other content.

You do not have to worry about formatting or designing your growth plan at all – just pick a template, and put all your strategies in it. Did you know that Bit gives you the option to choose from over 70 templates ?!

This nifty platform lets you and your team collaborate in real-time by co-editing, making inline comments, chatting via document chat, @mentions, and much more.

Want to make your growth plan more robust and comprehensive? Add rich media into it! Bit lets you add excel sheets, social content, cloud files, charts, surveys/polls, code, presentations, and much more to your documents.

One feature that makes Bit stand out is ‘smart workspaces’. On Bit, you can create infinite workspaces around projects and teams. This will help you in keeping all your documents related to your growth plan organized!

Bit.ai makes creating documents as easy as ABC, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try.

Wrapping Up

There are some things in business you just can’t avoid, and creating a growth plan is one of them. If you don’t want your business to disappear into thin air, you need to create a proper growth plan.

A growth plan literally has the power to take your business to heights, but only if you create it properly and accurately. It’s not even a gigantic task, considering that you have Bit.ai with you.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, start working on your growth plan and skyrocket the growth of your business. We’re totally rooting for you!

Got any questions or suggestions? Feel free to tweet us @bit_docs. We’d get back to you as soon as possible.

Further reads: 

Financial Plan: What is it & How to Create an Impressive One?

13 Growth Marketing Strategies You Must Know About!

Mitigation Plan: What Is It & How To Create One?

12 Sales KPIs Your Sales Department Should Measure!

Go-To-Market Strategy Guide for Businesses!

Communication Plan: What is it & How to Create it? (Steps included)

How To Develop a Growth Mindset That Will Change Your Future?

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12 Marketing Goals You Must Include In Your Plan!

Performance Report: What is it & How to Create it? (Steps Included)

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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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Grow your business with the action plan, the 11 step business action plan.

I came across this article on the American Express Open Forum and had to share it with our followers and clients.  Murray Smith gives a quick 11-step list for creating a business action plan in this article .  In our system, OnStrategy , we use Action Plan Reports to show a person or department’s goals and action items, due dates, and status.  Like Smith says, the Action Plan Report is a great way to, “help measure progress toward your goals.”  Smith also says how, “in business, your action plan is the key to focusing on the right information in the right order.”  We could not agree more with Smith and his take on the Action Plan.  Below is the article, The 11 Step Business Action Plan, by Murray Smith .

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.

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 it.

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 too. 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 1 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. Click here for a copy of Chapter 7 from my book The Answer to help you change your paradigm.

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, tele-marketing, 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 (or excel spread sheet) you will 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.

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Create an action plan that drives results

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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?

6 steps to create an action plan

Step 1: set a smart goal.

When it comes to setting goals, clarity is the single most important quality. With the SMART goal method, your goal is clearly defined and attainable. Set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals to benefit from this tactic.

[Inline illustration] SMART goals (Infographic)

For example, your goal could be to deliver your current project (measurable) in four months (time-bound) without overspending (specific). Assuming this goal is both achievable and realistic based on your available resources, it’s a great SMART goal to set for yourself.

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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How to create an action plan (with free templates and examples)

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An action plan template provides a ready-made framework for quickly adding the steps — like tasks, due dates, and assignees — to achieve your project goals. It’s a great way to ensure your project action plans are effective and consistent so everyone understands what’s expected.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to write an action plan step-by-step, with examples for inspiration. Plus, you can download two free action plan templates — including one from our Work OS — to get started immediately.

Download Excel template

What is an action plan?

An action plan is a detailed blueprint that outlines the steps you, your team, or your organization will take to achieve a specific goal. It includes specific tasks or actions with due dates and assignees, a timeline, and the resources required to accomplish your goal.

Action plans include detailed information, such as:

  • A description of each action or task to complete
  • The person responsible for each action
  • Due dates for each task
  • Resources required to complete the action
  • Space to reflect or take notes after you have completed a task

What is an action plan template?

An action plan template is a pre-structured document that gives you a framework for crafting your new action plan. A practical action plan template has designated spaces for each aspect you need to cover, often presented in a table format like this.

Screenshot of monday.com's action plan template

Free action plan templates

Here are two free action plan templates you can download and use today:

Try monday.com’s Action Plan Template:

This action plan template breaks down goals into actionable steps that you can prioritize, assign ownership, and track progress. You can also add start and end dates for each action, plus relevant details and files.

Get the template

Download the free action plan template for Excel:

Why is an action plan template important?

Leaders and managers use action plan templates to speed up the strategic planning process . Rather than spending unnecessary time designing the document used for planning purposes, project managers can simply pull up their template, save a new copy — keeping the existing template intact — and get straight to work scheduling and assigning tasks.

Action plan templates ensure consistency

Additionally, templates help to ensure consistency across plans and teams. When your organization uses the same action plan template for the whole company, it’s easier for team members to interpret and understand the plan — because they’re familiar with the format — and it contributes toward an organized, professional appearance.

Action plan templates help you plan more effectively

Action plan templates help project organizers plan more effectively by offering predefined categories and columns, reducing the chance of human error or omitting information from an action plan. In addition, you can apply any learnings from the project management process to your template. That way, you’ll consistently improve subsequent action plans.

While completing a project, you might find that some of the tasks in your task lists didn’t have clear outcomes. In addition, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to identify when the task was complete. So, you could borrow from the SMART goals framework — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound goals — and include a new column in your action plan template to note how you’ll measure if the task is complete.

And when using an action plan template built on a Work OS like monday.com, you can add your action plan to relevant project boards, create cross-team automations , and more — making it easier to collaborate with a distributed team in real time.

What are the essential features of an effective action plan template?

Action plan templates should contain the following features:

  • Multiple views — such as tables, timelines, Kanban boards, and Gantt charts to visualize tasks.
  • Task notifications — to detail and assign tasks to team members.
  • Structured layouts — to plan tasks based on priority, status, and resource allocation.
  • Collaboration ability — to maintain notes, comments, and files in one place.
  • Automations — to update task status and notify owners.
  • Status columns — to show the current status, such as Stuck, Working on it, and Done.
  • Dashboards — to track overall progress, timelines, and budgets.

What is the difference between an action plan and a project plan?

A project plan is more detailed than an action plan. Both list the tasks, timelines, and resources required to achieve a desired goal. But project plans also include:

  • Project goals and objectives
  • Project milestones and deliverables
  • Project scope and budget
  • Project roles and responsibilities
  • Project stakeholders and communication schedule
  • Project risk mitigation and contingency plans
  • Project success criteria

You can create an action plan from your project plan to outline the steps required to achieve your project goals.

What are the key elements of a well-written action plan?

A well-written action plan consists of seven components:

  • Goals: define what the action plan aims to accomplish.
  • Steps: detail the actions required to achieve each goal.
  • Items: determine the task dependencies and priorities.
  • Timeline: maps out the schedule and milestones from start to finish.
  • Resources: identify the people, tools, and budget required.
  • Responsibilities: assign tasks to an individual or a team.
  • Review: monitor the overall progress of action items completed.

What are some examples of action plan templates?

Now that we know what they do, let’s look at a few action plan templates.

Business action plan template

This template outlines how to write an action plan to track progress toward a specific business goal.

Example of a business action plan template

( Image Source )

This action plan begins by detailing the primary goal, with the first column dedicated to a breakdown of each action required. For example, if your business goal was to design and launch a new website, your activities might include:

  • Gathering design assets
  • Choosing a color scheme
  • Copywriting for new website pages
  • Assembling design and development teams
  • Creating design wireframes
  • Design and development
  • Launch and promotion

Note that the second to last column in this action plan template is reserved for noting potential hazards. This helps identify roadblocks that might get in the way of achieving your goals to plan around them.

Personal development action plan template

Though action plans are most often used in a business context, they can be a handy tool to help you stay motivated and work toward your personal goals.

Example of a personal development action plan

This template allows you to break down your actions into a step-by-step sequence and includes a “How will I know I’ve been successful?” column to ensure that the actions you write down have a clear outcome.

Corrective action plan template

Creating an action plan can also be a great way to solve a specific business problem or even an issue with a particular employee’s performance. This is known as a corrective action plan, as shown in the example template below.

A corrective action plan template includes important columns, such as “metrics and constraints” — to help users complete tasks and plan for potential roadblocks — and “percent completed” — to help measure the progress toward the goal.

monday.com’s Action Plan Template

As you’ve seen in the examples above, the typical action plan format is a PDF or Microsoft Word document. While this is fine for goal setting and creating the plan itself, it’s not so great for putting it into action.

That’s why we’ve purpose-built a flexible, customizable, intuitive action plan template to use with monday.com.

When you design your action plan on monday.com, you can:

  • Access multiple views (such as a table, Kanban, and timeline) to work in a manner that suits your needs.

Timeline view in the action plan template

  • Assign tasks to individuals and notify them instantly.
  • Comment and collaborate on tasks to keep communication contextual.
  • Design custom automations to save valuable time and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
  • Report on progress with the Progress Tracking Column.

Screenshot of the progress tracking column on monday.com

Once there is buy-in from the team on the plan, it is easy to copy actions, dates, and assignees over to the task management board.

Because monday.com is a comprehensive Work OS, any action plans you create with this template also integrate with relevant project boards. In addition, comprehensive analytics make tracking easy.

How to write an action plan step-by-step

Never created an action plan before? Then, follow this simple guide and get started with the free template above.

1. Determine your goals

First, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Then, make this goal as specific as possible.

For example, “increase sales” is not a clear enough goal. “Increase sales by 20% in quarter three” is more specific and allows you to set a metric for achieving it.

2. Break down the steps required to achieve each goal

What actions are necessary to get there?

In this example, that might include:

  • Hire three new sales development representatives
  • Increase content marketing budget by $20,000
  • Implement a new sales training program for new hires

3. Determine task dependencies and priorities

Remember: you can’t do everything at once! So now that you’ve broken down that big goal into bite-sized chunks, you need to figure out the perfect order for completing the tasks. In the above instance, you need to hire new sales representatives before starting a sales training program.

4. Set milestones

Now, set some milestones for significant events or checkpoints along the project. Some typical milestones are:

  • Completion of a substantial task or phase of the project
  • A significant event, such as a product launch
  • Important meetings, like customer review meetings

5. Add deadlines

When do you need to complete each task? Setting deadlines for each task helps your team stay on track and allows you to identify if your timeline for the larger goal is realistic.

6. Identify the resources you need

What’s getting in the way of completing these tasks? What do you require — perhaps from leadership or another team — to meet or exceed your goals? In our sales team example, we might need some assistance from the HR department to advertise an open role and attract new applicants.

7. Assign tasks to individuals

Who is responsible for each action? Assign a clear task owner to each task. Ownership doesn’t just make someone feel accountable; it empowers them to take the initiative and solve problems without dragging in management at every twist and turn.

8. Agree on a plan to review progress

Before you jump in and start your project, determine how you will measure progress toward your goals. For example:

  • Will you review your action plan every day or every week?
  • Will the task assignees or the project leader be responsible for updating the plan to reflect progress?

Determining these answers upfront means the action plan remains a living document reflecting actual progress.

Customize our Action Plan Template to your needs today

Prepare and present your action plans with our flexible, customizable Action Plan Template. Team members will love the multiple views, automations, and collaboration features to keep them on point. And you’ll benefit from the Progress Tracking column in your weekly reports to stakeholders.

FAQs about action plans

What’s the difference between an action plan and a to-do list.

An action plan and a to-do list are helpful tools for organizing tasks and achieving goals. A to-do list is a list of tasks to complete, but not necessarily for the same goal or project. Typically, to-do lists are less organized than action plans and can change daily. In contrast, an action plan follows specific steps and includes tasks that all lead to completing a common goal.

What's the difference between an action plan and a strategic plan?

An action plan and a strategic plan are essential for an organization’s long-term and short-term planning. A strategic plan outlines an organization’s vision for the future and helps prioritize goals, make resourcing decisions, and unite employees. On the other hand, an action plan makes the strategic plan operational by providing detailed instructions on how to accomplish those goals.

What’s the difference between an action plan and an implementation plan?

An implementation plan and an action plan are essential documents that help teams execute a project successfully. An action plan focuses on the specific tasks needed to achieve a goal. In contrast, an implementation plan is a more holistic document outlining the steps, teams, and resources required to execute a project successfully.

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  • January 23, 2018

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A Strategic Plan for Business Implementation: 3 Steps to Getting Business Growth Done

Let me ask you a question:

What’s the ONE thing your business needs to take the next BIG step in its growth?

Is it more ideas? More knowledge? More information?

You need to have a good system in place to make sure your ideas are being prioritized intelligently and implemented efficiently.

Probably not.

If you’re like most marketers, entrepreneurs, and business owners I know, you already have a whole pile of notes, ideas, and to-do lists still waiting to be implemented.

If anything, you might have TOO MANY ideas. Too many projects.

And the problem is that you need to get better at implementing those projects. Actually getting them DONE.

Am I right?

If your to-do list has 50 growth strategies on it, you certainly don’t need any more growth strategies. No, what you need instead is a method to…

  • Decide which project to tackle first, and…
  • Actually DO IT in an effective and efficient way

And that’s what this post is all about.

The framework you’re about to learn is the exact same process we use internally at DigitalMarketer to implement our business growth strategies.

It came out of the frustrations we had in our own recent growth…

As a company, DigitalMarketer went from being a small team of two to three people to being a team of over 50 people in a relatively short time.

But here’s the crazy part…

Even though our team ballooned in size by 25x, we didn’t actually get that much more work done!

See, you can’t just throw more money and people at a problem like this and hope that will fix the issue. Because it won’t.

Instead, you need to have a good system in place to make sure your ideas are being prioritized intelligently and implemented efficiently.

So, without further ado, here are the three steps to doing just that—a business growth plan for avoiding “shiny object syndrome” and actually implement a growth plan in your business …

Business Growth Plan Step 1: Align Your Team to a Single Goal

The first step is to align your team to a single goal and AVOID multiple simultaneous projects.

Instead of trying to achieve many different things at once, it’s much better to focus on one goal at a time. And don’t move on to the next goal until you’ve achieved the first one.

Goals should be sequential, never simultaneous.

Sequential goals ensure maximum efficiency because they allow you to put 100% of your focus on that one thing.

Simultaneous goals, on the other hand, are a recipe for chaos and inefficiency. And the more projects you have going at once, the less efficient you will be. Guaranteed.

This applies to your entire team, whether you’re a team of one or part of a much larger department.

One of the big mistakes that many companies make is giving a different goal or project to every employee.

For example: Bob’s project might be trying to grow the email list, while Lois is charged with increasing conversions, and Steve is in charge of trying to cut down on customer refunds.

The problem with a situation like this is that there are dependencies between these projects, and those dependencies can cause a lot of in-fighting between employees.

As a result, nobody is able to do a really great job of achieving their goal and you end up with another quarter of mediocre improvements and stagnant growth across the board.

But what if you could get your whole team—Bob, Lois, and Steve—all focused on the same goal at the same time? This way, there wouldn’t be any competing agendas. Chances are they would do a much better job than any one person could do on their own.

So, why don’t more companies work this way? The answer might surprise you.

The Secret Danger of Good Ideas

For many companies, the thing that’s stopping them from adopting a more efficient, sequential goal structure is too many good ideas.

It might sound strange, but it’s true…

Good ideas have killed far more companies than bad ideas.

It’s rare for a bad idea to bring down a company. Instead, failure is more often caused by trying to implement too many good ideas at once .

This makes sense if you think about it: we’re on the lookout for bad ideas. Anytime we try something that doesn’t work, what do we do? We stop doing it. We pivot. We try something else.

Bad ideas are usually caught and thrown out pretty quickly.

But good ideas?

Good ideas are dangerous.

Anytime we try a tactic that works well…

Anytime we come up with a new campaign that makes a lot of sense…

Anytime we see a competitor doing something that would work for us…

Anytime we come up with a marketing idea that “could be a game-changer”…

We pursue those good ideas.

Eventually, we start chasing too many things—and before you know it we’re knee-deep in “shiny object syndrome.”

This puts you in a tricky situation. Because you don’t want to ignore all those good ideas. But at the same time, you can’t afford to pursue them all at the same time.

So, what should you do?

How to Organize & Prioritize Your Good Ideas

I recommend using this four-step grid to help organize and prioritize your good ideas.

So first, draw out a grid like this on a whiteboard somewhere your whole team can see it:

The 4 Growth Levers Grid

Each column represents one of the four primary “Growth Levers.” These are the four ways you can grow a company . And the 4 Growth Levers are:

  • Acquisition: Getting new leads
  • Activation: Converting your existing leads into customers
  • Monetization: Increasing the average order value of your existing customers
  • Retention: Reducing refunds and churn rate

Then you’ll want to take each good idea and put it into the column where it fits best, like so:

The 4 Growth Levers with each grid filled out

Writing down all your ideas in a central location like this does two important things.

First, it organizes your ideas in a way that makes sense from a growth perspective AND makes it easy to focus and prioritize each idea. This will become crucial in just a moment.

Second, it gets those ideas out of your head and down on paper.

Many of us are walking around with too many ideas floating around in our heads. And trying to keep track of those ideas leads to cognitive overload.

Mentally, it feels like you have too many browser tabs open on your internet browser.

But when you write down your ideas, it’s like closing one of those tabs. It frees up some mental space because you know you don’t have to keep track of that idea in your head any longer.

Choose One Column to Focus On

OK, you now have your ideas all written down and organized according to the 4 Growth Levers.

The next thing you need to do is to choose a column to focus on for a period of time.

Because here’s the thing:

Impact doesn’t happen when you improve ten different parts of your business by 1% each. It happens when you make a giant improvement in ONE area.

So, for example, let’s say that for the next 12 weeks you decide to focus on Acquisition.

For now, you can ignore all your ideas that fall under Activation, Monetization, and Retention, and focus 100% on your Acquisition ideas:

The Acquisition Growth Lever

The next thing you need to do is to prioritize those Activation ideas. And to do this, I highly recommend using the ICE Framework. ICE stands for…

So, what you want to do is this: for each idea, measure the Impact, Confidence, and Ease of each idea on a scale from 1-10.

  • Impact : How big of an impact will this idea have on your business? A 1 means that this idea will have a minimal impact, while a 10 means that this idea is a real “needle-mover” with the potential to dramatically grow your business.
  • Confidence : How confident can you be that this idea will work? If you’ve tried it before and it worked well, this might be a 9 or 10. If it’s a gamble, it might be a 1 or 2.
  • Ease : How easy or difficult would it be to implement this idea? The easier the implementation, the higher the score.

You should make this a discussion with your whole team. Give everyone a vote and average the results for each idea.

Here’s an example of how we scored a few different ideas here at DigitalMarketer using the ICE Framework. The ideas were “testing new homepage opt-in copy” and “launching a podcast.”

Test New Homepage Opt-In Copy  

We knew that our homepage was a significant source of opt-ins. So, we knew that if we could move the needle and increase that conversion rate, it would have a high impact on our lead flow. (Impact of 10.)

At the same time, we had never tested the copy that was on the homepage. So, we were reasonably confident that we could beat that copy that was currently there. (Confidence of 9.)

Finally, because this involved changing just a few lines of text, it was super quick & easy to implement. (Ease of 10.)

ICE score: 10 + 10 + 9 = 29 / 3 = 9.7

As the ICE score suggests, this idea was really a no-brainer for us. As a result, it shot up to #1 on our list of priorities.

And we would go on to update the homepage to…

The DigitalMarketer homepage

Launch a Podcast  

We knew that if we could launch a podcast and have it do really well, that could be a huge needle-mover for our business. It could help grow our brand and generate awareness by reaching a massive number of people who listen to podcasts. (Impact of 10.)

However, we had never launched a podcast before—so we had no experience in that arena. As a result, we were not highly confident that we would be able to produce a great podcast right out of the gate. (Confidence of 2.)

And because we had never done a podcast before, implementing this was not going to be easy. It was going to involve lots of research, investing in new equipment, setting up a studio, and lots of other setup. Definitely not an easy process. (Ease of 1.)

ICE score: 10 + 2 + 1 = 13 / 3 = 4.3

This was a classic “moonshot” idea for us. Pulling it off would be tough, but the potential payoff was huge.

Keep in mind that just because it had a low ICE score, that doesn’t mean we didn’t do it. It just meant that we didn’t do it first . Instead, it got pushed down on the priority list of Acquisition ideas.

As you may know, we DID end up launching a podcast—and the Perpetual Traffic Podcast was a smash-hit beyond anything we expected. It turned out to be well worth the risk.

( RELATED: How to Launch a Podcast, Drive it to the Top of the Charts, AND Keep it There in Just 4 Steps )

The great thing about the ICE Framework is that it makes the process of project selection really transparent to the whole team, and nobody ever feels like their ideas are being ignored or disregarded.

Every idea gets scored by the team according to the ICE Framework, and everyone on the team gets a say in which projects get tackled first.

Business Growth Plan Step 2: Work in Focused Sprints (Not Exhausting Marathons)

People, teams, and companies perform best with short bursts of intense work followed by a rest.

We are NOT designed for long marathons.

(It’s interesting to note that according to legend, the first Greek runner who ever ran a marathon ended up falling down dead at the end of it.)

We tend to work much better when we can go all-out for a couple hours, then rest and recharge our batteries so that we’re fresh when we go at it again.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work hard, and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work hard for long periods of time.

What I’m saying is that your work should follow a cycle that allows you to put forth 100% effort and then recover from that effort so you can do it again.

Work really hard, rest.

…you get it. 🙂

Fortunately, this sprint-based style of project implementation works perfectly with sequential goals because it allows you to pursue one single goal for that short period of hard work …

Then you take a break before pursuing the next goal.

And when you add all those sprints together, you get what we call a “season.”

Business Growth Plan Step 3: Work in 12-Week “Seasons”

We experience life in seasons. We’re never in one consistent mode all the time.

This applies to many different timeframes. Obviously, it applies to the seasons of a year, as the weather changes from cold, snowy winter to hot, thriving summer and back again.

But it also applies on the level of a week, where we have five days of focused work followed by two days of rest and recovery.

Similarly, each day can be thought of as having its own “seasons” too; often the morning involves some ramp-up time, after which we increase to our most productive period in the late morning. From there it’s common to have a lull in the afternoon, after which we ramp up again to finish our work in time to head home at night.

So, that’s why I think it makes sense to approach growth projects using that same idea of seasons.

And when it comes to putting growth projects into action, these are the five “seasons” of implementation:

  • Learn : This is where you learn the principles that will help guide the implementation of your upcoming project. This isn’t “just in case” learning, where you’re researching something you might, maybe implement someday. It’s “just in time” learning where you’re figuring out how to implement one big idea that you’re about to work on NOW.
  • Implement : This is where the rubber meets the road. Stop attending webinars, watching videos, and reading blog posts. Now’s your chance to take ACTION. Whatever your project is, this is the time to put in the legwork to get it done.
  • Celebrate : Once you’ve finished implementing your project, take a moment to sit back and celebrate all your hard work! I don’t recommend celebrating your results at this point—because after all, not every project is going to be a win. Instead, simply celebrate the fact that you got something done. That you learned something. That you took meaningful action to grow your business.
  • Optimize : Often we will implement something, but that implementation will be shaky at best. We’ll build a bridge, but it will be a rickety bridge with lots of holes and problems. That’s why we need to take time to optimize—to improve what we’ve implemented, to fix the bugs, to iron out the kinks. This is an important step because it helps us to get the best results from whatever it is we just implemented and make sure we’re putting forth a polished and professional effort.
  • Rest/Repeat : Now that your project has been implemented and optimized, I recommend you take a little time off to rest before going at it again. This is important to recharge your batteries so that when the next season starts, you’re ready to give it all you’ve got and really kick butt on your next project.

Here at DigitalMarketer, we follow this season in 12-week cycles. We find that 12-week cycles work really well for a couple reasons.

For one thing, 12 weeks is long enough to allow you to really dig in and implement some significant solutions.

Secondly, 12 weeks gives you four quarters each year. This lines up perfectly with the 4 Growth Levers, which means you can focus on each Growth Lever once a year.

Our 12-week season looks like this:

The DigitalMarketer 12-Week Season

We take just one week to learn, followed by four weeks of implementation. After that we give ourselves a week to celebrate, then we spend the next four weeks optimizing our work. Finally, we take a short two-week break before starting all over again.

3 Business Growth Mindsets

Now that we’ve covered the three steps of implementing a growth project, I want to briefly hit on three critical mindsets to getting growth done.

Business Growth Mindset #1: Patiently Impatient Thinking  

“Patiently impatient thinking” means that you work with a sense of urgency…

Really push yourself to get your work done as quickly and efficiently as possible…

…while also understanding that results always lag behind your efforts.

A good analogy here is to think of this in terms of exercise.

You need a sense of urgency while putting in the work while being patient for the results.

If you want to lose weight and get in shape, how would you achieve that goal?

For one thing, you would probably start working out, right?

And if you wanted to get in really great shape, you would work out intensely. With a sense of urgency.

But at the same time, you have to recognize the fact that you can’t transform your body overnight.

It takes time for the results to come.

And the same thing is true of growth strategies. You need a sense of urgency while putting in the work…

…while being patient for the results—knowing that they will take some time, but they will come eventually.

Business Growth Mindset #2: High-Impact Thinking   

The second important growth mindset is to foster high-impact thinking.

And to illustrate what I mean by that, I want to warp back to high school physics class for a minute. Let’s talk about Newton’s Second Law of Motion, which states:

Force = Mass x Acceleration

What this equation basically says is that to generate a lot of force you either need a lot of mass…or a lot of acceleration.

Growth ideas are the same way.

An idea with high mass and low acceleration might be like a steamroller. A steamroller doesn’t move very fast…but it’s so big and massive that once it reaches its target, it generates a massive amount of force.

For us, launching the Perpetual Traffic Podcast was a steamroller idea. It took a lot of work to get it moving, but once it launched it made a big impact on our business.

An idea with low mass and high acceleration might be more like a bullet. Bullets aren’t very heavy. They weigh just a couple ounces. But they’re shot with so much velocity that they are able to generate a massive amount of force.

The great thing about bullets is that you can implement lots of quick and easy ideas in a short amount of time. You can fire them off one after another.

Bullet vs steamroller

In the 12-week implementation season, we spend the Learn and Implement phases focusing on steamroller strategies that will really move the needle.

Then during the Optimization phase, we focus on lots of bullets that we can implement to improve that steamroller idea as quickly as we can.

Business Growth Mindset #3: Leadership Thinking

I hear from a lot of business owners who claim to be the “visionary” for their company. They think their job is to come up with ideas, and that it’s the rest of their team’s job to implement them.

You don't need a perfect plan. You need a good plan that gets done. ~Ryan Deiss

Leaders don’t merely plan…leaders lead. They DO! Because good leaders understand that…

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”—U.S. General George S. Patton

You don’t need a perfect plan. You need a good plan that gets DONE. And as a leader, it’s your job to make sure that happens.

Here at DigitalMarketer, our leaders do the most work. They lead by example.

Don’t be one of those leaders who sits in your ivory tower and just dictates orders down the mountain. Instead, roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty doing the work yourself.

That’s why this growth implementation plan is so important.

And that’s how you lead a company.

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Growth Tactics

Growth Tactics

business growth action plan

Creating an Effective Business Growth Plan

As a business leader, you understand the importance of continually striving for growth and development in your enterprise. A carefully crafted growth plan can help you achieve your goals by outlining specific strategies and action plans to ensure that your company continues to thrive. In this article, we’ll explore the key components of an effective growth plan for your business and offer practical advice to help you create a roadmap to success.

What is a Growth Plan and Why Do You Need One?

A growth plan is a document that outlines the strategies and tactics that a business will use to achieve and sustain growth over a specified period. This plan should include a clear vision statement, measurable goals , and a detailed description of the strategies, action plans, and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will drive business growth. A growth plan can help you set goals and targets, identify potential challenges and opportunities, and ensure that all stakeholders are aligned with your vision. Furthermore, having a growth plan can help ensure the longevity of your business by providing a roadmap for success.

Factors Impacting Business Growth

Several factors can have a significant impact on the growth of a business. It is essential for business leaders and managers to identify and understand these factors in order to navigate the path to success. Let’s explore some key factors that influence business growth:

1. Economic Conditions

The overall health of the economy can greatly affect business growth. During periods of economic prosperity, with increased consumer spending and confidence, businesses tend to experience growth opportunities. Conversely, during economic downturns or recessions, consumer spending may decline, leading to challenges for businesses.

2. Market Demand and Competitiveness

The demand for a product or service has a direct impact on business growth. Assessing the market demand for your offerings, understanding consumer preferences, and identifying any gaps that your business can fill are crucial steps. Additionally, businesses need to evaluate the competitive landscape, including the presence of established competitors, barriers to entry, and emerging trends, in order to position themselves for growth.

3. Innovation and Technology

Keeping up with technological advancements and embracing innovation is essential for sustaining growth. Businesses that invest in research and development, adopt new technologies, and stay ahead of industry trends are often better positioned for growth. Innovation can lead to improved efficiency, enhanced product offerings, and increased customer satisfaction, all of which can drive business growth.

4. Financial Resources

Access to financial resources, such as capital for investment and working capital, is vital for business growth. Adequate funding allows businesses to expand operations, invest in marketing and advertising, develop new products or services, and hire additional staff. Businesses need to assess their financial capabilities and explore funding options to support their growth strategies.

5. Human Capital

The skills, knowledge, and expertise of the workforce are critical for driving business growth. Hiring and retaining talented employees who are aligned with the organization’s goals and values is essential. Businesses that invest in training and development programs, foster a positive work culture , and empower their employees are more likely to experience sustainable growth.

6. Regulatory Environment

The regulatory environment in which a business operates can impact growth opportunities. Compliance with industry-specific regulations, government policies, and legal requirements is crucial to avoid penalties and maintain credibility. Understanding and navigating the regulatory landscape allows businesses to identify potential obstacles and take necessary measures for growth.

7. Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Customer satisfaction and retention play a significant role in business growth. Satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat customers, refer others to the business, and contribute to its growth. Businesses need to focus on providing exceptional customer experiences, delivering quality products or services, and maintaining strong customer relationships to foster loyalty and drive growth.

These factors are just some of the many elements that influence business growth. By actively assessing and addressing these factors, businesses can create strategies and make informed decisions that contribute to their long-term success and expansion.

How to Develop a Growth Plan for Your Business

Developing a growth plan for your business is a crucial aspect of achieving long-term success. To create an effective growth plan, follow these steps:

Step 1: Define Your Growth Goals and Objectives

The first step in creating an effective growth plan is to define your goals and objectives. Think about where you want your business to be in three, five, or ten years and develop specific and measurable goals that will help you achieve your vision.

Step 2: Understand Your Business Needs

In order to create a growth plan that works for your business, you need to understand its needs. Consider the following questions:

  • What are your business goals?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What products or services do you offer?
  • What are your current strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the potential growth opportunities for your business?

Answering these questions will help you identify specific areas of your business that require additional attention and focus, and help you create a growth plan that addresses them.

Step 3: Develop a Strategy for Growth

Once you have defined your goals and identified the needs of your business, the next step is to develop a strategy for growth. Consider the following:

  • What strategies and tactics will best help you achieve your growth goals?
  • What internal resources or external partnerships will you need to execute your plan?
  • What role will new products or services play in your growth strategy?
  • Are there any particular areas of your business that you want to focus on developing?
  • How will you measure success and ensure that your strategy is working?

Developing an effective growth strategy requires careful planning and consideration of various factors that can impact your business.

Step 4: Establish an Action Plan

With your growth goals defined, business needs understood, and a strategy created, the next step is to establish an action plan. This plan should outline specific initiatives that will help you achieve your growth targets, including timelines, milestones, resource commitments, and key performance indicators.

Step 5: Monitor and Adjust Your Plan

Developing a successful growth plan requires ongoing monitoring and adjustment to ensure that you remain on track and continue to grow. Regularly review your progress against your KPIs and take corrective action as needed to keep your business moving forward.

Tips for Creating an Effective Growth Plan

When it comes to business growth, creating an effective plan is crucial to achieving your goals and moving your organization forward. Here are some tips to help you create a growth plan that will work for your company:

Set Realistic Goals

It’s important to set goals that are achievable but also challenging. Make sure you consider your current business situation and resources, as well as your desired outcomes when setting your targets.

Understand Your Market

Your target market plays an essential role in your business growth. Ensure you have a deep understanding of your customer’s needs, their pain points, and the challenges they are facing.

Consider All Growth Strategies

Exploring diverse growth strategies can help you expand your business, reach new customers, and diversify your offerings. This could include everything from developing new products and services, expanding into new markets, or improving your operations and processes .

Focus on the Long-term

While short-term objectives are vital for any business, it’s equally critical to have long-term goals in mind. This ensures that you develop a roadmap to move toward your vision and don’t get sidetracked by short-term wins.

Foster an Organizational Culture of Growth

Building this culture starts from the top and should be reflected throughout your organization. Encourage staff to be innovative , take calculated risks, and capitalize on new opportunities and ideas to drive growth forward.

Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

To effectively measure your progress toward your growth goals, it is important to identify and track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These indicators can include metrics such as revenue growth, customer acquisition rate, customer satisfaction, market share, or any other relevant metrics specific to your business. Regularly monitoring these KPIs will help you assess if your growth plan is on track and enable you to make informed decisions and adjustments as needed.

Develop a Marketing and Sales Strategy

A strong marketing and sales strategy is crucial to drive business growth. Clearly define your target audience, develop compelling messaging, and identify the most effective channels to reach and engage your potential customers. Leverage digital marketing techniques, social media platforms, content marketing, SEO, and other tactics relevant to your industry to maximize your reach and generate quality leads. Align your marketing and sales efforts to ensure a seamless customer journey that leads to conversions.

Invest in Employee Development

Your employees play a significant role in driving business growth. Invest in their professional development and provide training opportunities to enhance their skill sets. Empower them to take ownership of their responsibilities and encourage a culture of continuous learning and improvement. By fostering a motivated and skilled workforce, you can boost productivity , innovation, and overall business performance.

Foster Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships can be a valuable growth strategy for businesses. Look for complementary organizations or businesses with shared target audiences and explore opportunities for collaboration. By partnering with other businesses, you can tap into new markets, leverage each other’s strengths, share resources, and mutually benefit from the synergies created.

Continuously Monitor and Evaluate Your Plan

Creating a growth plan is not a one-time task; it requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Regularly review your progress, reassess your goals, and adjust your strategies as needed. Stay updated on market trends, customer preferences, and industry developments to ensure your growth plan remains relevant and effective. Be agile and adaptable in responding to changes and seeking new opportunities for growth.

Business Plan vs Growth Plan

Business plans and growth plans are essential tools for businesses, but they serve different purposes. While a business plan outlines the basics of a company, including its mission, product offerings, and financial projections, a growth plan focuses specifically on strategies to drive business growth. Let’s explore the differences between the two:

Business Plan

A business plan is a detailed blueprint of a company’s goals and objectives, outlining how it intends to achieve them. It typically includes the following components:

  • Executive summary: A brief overview of the company’s mission, goals, and financial projections.
  • Company description: A detailed description of the company’s mission, historical background, products or services offered, and target market.
  • Market analysis: An overview of the industry, including trends, competition, and target audience.
  • Organization and management: An overview of the company’s organizational structure , leadership team, and management style.
  • Products and services: A detailed description of the company’s products or services, including pricing, distribution, and marketing strategies.
  • Financial projections: Forecasted financial statements, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.

A business plan serves as a roadmap for a company’s future, laying out how it plans to operate, grow and succeed.

Growth Plan

A growth plan is a strategic document designed to identify and prioritize strategies to drive business growth. Instead of focusing on the basics of the company like a business plan, a growth plan zooms into the company’s growth opportunities. It typically includes the following components:

  • Review of business environment: An overview of the current business conditions and the challenges and opportunities that exist in the market.
  • Mission and vision statement: A reaffirmation of the company’s goals and aspirations, and how these will translate into growth strategies.
  • Goals and objectives: Specific, measurable objectives that align with the company’s mission and growth aspirations.
  • SWOT analysis: An assessment of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Strategies and tactics: A detailed outline of the strategies and tactics that will be used to achieve the company’s goals and objectives.
  • Performance metrics: Objective measures that will be used to track and evaluate the success of the growth plan.

A growth plan offers a framework for businesses to identify and prioritize growth opportunities, set realistic growth targets, and develop actionable strategies to achieve those targets.

In summary, while a business plan outlines the basics of a company, including its mission, goals, and financial projections, a growth plan focuses on strategies to drive growth. While both plans are essential for the success of a business, they play different roles in the development and execution of a company’s strategy.

Key Takeaways

Creating an effective growth plan for your business involves identifying your goals and objectives, assessing your business needs, developing a strategy, establishing an action plan, and monitoring and adjusting your plan as needed.

By following these steps and adopting a growth mindset, you can successfully achieve your business goals, help your organization thrive, and continue to grow for years to come. Remember to set realistic, measurable targets, focus on your customers’ needs, and stay open to new opportunities. With a well-constructed growth plan, you can continue to make your business successful and continue to grow.

Creating an Effective Business Growth Plan

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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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Make confident decisions by following a 4-step growth planning process

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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How to Write an Action Plan: Step-by-Step (Examples)

By Status.net Editorial Team on November 9, 2023 — 9 minutes to read

Understanding Action Plans

An action plan is a detailed roadmap of the necessary steps you need to take to achieve a specific goal or objective. It’s like a GPS that guides you from your starting point to your desired destination. Creating an action plan helps you break down a large goal into smaller, more manageable tasks, which makes the goal feel less overwhelming.

To start, you should first identify your end goal and be as specific as possible. For example, if you want to increase sales for your business, set a target like “Increase sales by 20% within the next six months.” This will give you a clear vision of what you want to achieve and make it easier to measure your progress.

Next, list the necessary actions or tasks required to reach your goal. These can be further divided into smaller tasks that are easy to understand and implement. For example, to increase sales, you could:

  • Improve your online presence by revamping your website, optimizing it for search engines, and posting regularly on social media platforms.
  • Reach out to potential clients through email campaigns and cold calls.
  • Offer promotions or discounts to incentivize new customers to try your product or service.

Now, it’s time to set a timeline for each task. Deadlines will enable you to monitor your progress and stay on track. Assign realistic due dates for each task, and if needed, break them down into smaller milestones.

To ensure your action plan’s success, make sure to assign responsibility for each task. If you’re working with a team, delegate tasks according to each team member’s strengths, skills, and workload. This will help ensure everyone knows what their responsibilities are, and they are held accountable.

Lastly, always monitor your progress and evaluate your action plan’s effectiveness. Regularly review the tasks you’ve accomplished, and make note of the tasks that were challenging or required more time than anticipated. This self-assessment will help you improve your action plan and make necessary adjustments as you work towards your goal.

Example Action Plan

Goal : Increase sales by 20% within the next 6 months (By January 1st, 2025)

Actions : 1. Improve online presence a) Revamp website design – Due October 15th b) Optimize website for SEO – Due November 1st c) Post regularly on social media (1x/week min) – Ongoing

2. Reach out to potential clients a) Create email marketing campaign – Due September 15th b) Start cold calling campaign (10 calls/day) – Start October 1st

3. Offer promotions a) Design promotion flyers – Due September 1st b) Run month-long 20% off sale – October 1-31st

Monitoring : – Check website analytics weekly – Track new clients monthly – Evaluate sales figures monthly – Adjust plan as needed at monthly meetings

Responsibilities : – John to revamp website – Susan to handle social media – Michael to create promotions – Jennifer to manage outreach campaigns

Steps to Creating a Powerhouse Action Plan

First, identify your goal . Be specific about what you want to achieve and set a time frame for accomplishing it. This will help keep your efforts focused and prevent you from getting overwhelmed by smaller tasks. For example, instead of “increase sales”, choose “increase sales by 20% in the next six months”.

Next, break your goal down into smaller, manageable tasks . Create a list of activities or steps that must be completed in order to reach your goal. If your goal is to Increase sales by 20%, some tasks might be:

  • Research your target market
  • Develop a marketing strategy
  • Improve product offerings
  • Train your sales team

Assign a deadline and responsible party for each task on your list. This will help ensure that all tasks are completed on time and that everyone knows their role in achieving the goal. Make sure to set realistic timelines for each task, taking into consideration the resources and time available.

Here’s an example:

  • Research your target market – due in one week – assigned to Jane (marketing specialist)
  • Develop a marketing strategy – due in two weeks – assigned to marketing team

Monitor your progress regularly. Keep track of your progress by using tools such as calendars, project management software, or a simple spreadsheet. Regularly assess whether you’re on track to meet your goal and adjust your action plan if needed. For example, if a task is taking longer than expected, you may need to reassign resources or revise the deadline.

Celebrate your milestones and learn from setbacks . Along the way, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes, as well as learn from any setbacks or challenges. This will help maintain motivation and encourage continuous improvement.

Finally, communicate your action plan to all stakeholders involved, such as employees, investors, or clients. Clear communication ensures everyone understands the goal, their responsibilities, and the expectations for the project.

Defining Clear and Smart Goals

Specific goals.

When creating your action plan, start by setting specific goals. These are clear, well-defined goals that leave no room for ambiguity. You should know exactly what needs to be accomplished and how you plan to achieve it. For example, instead of aiming for “increasing sales,” set a goal like “increase sales by 15% over the next six months.”

Measurable Goals

Your goals should be measurable so that you can track your progress and know when you’ve achieved them. This involves identifying quantifiable indicators that will help you determine your progress. For instance, if your goal is to increase sales, a measurable component can be the number of units sold or the amount of revenue generated within a specific timeframe.

Achievable Goals

When setting goals, make sure they are achievable and realistic based on your current resources and constraints. Consider your team’s capabilities, time, and budget. Unattainable goals may negatively impact your motivation and morale. For example, if you have a small team with limited resources, setting a goal to double your company’s size within a month might be unrealistic. Instead, aim for a modest yet challenging growth rate that can be achieved with your available resources.

Relevant Goals

Your action plan goals should also be relevant to your organization’s mission and vision. These are goals that align with your overall strategic plan and contribute to its long-term success. Relevant goals ensure that your efforts are focused on high-impact areas and avoid unnecessary distractions. For example, if your business is focused on sustainability, a relevant goal might be to reduce your company’s carbon footprint by 20% in the next year.

Time-bound Goals

Finally, ensure that your goals are time-bound, meaning they have a deadline for completion. Deadlines keep your team accountable and help maintain a sense of urgency, which is crucial for staying on track and achieving your objectives. A clear timeframe also allows you to measure your progress and adjust your plans as needed. For instance, you could set a goal to expand your customer base by 10% within the next quarter.

Assigning Roles and Responsibilities

When creating an action plan, it’s important to assign roles and responsibilities to your team members. This helps ensure tasks are completed efficiently and everyone is clear about their duties. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • First, identify the necessary tasks to achieve your goal. Be specific about what needs to be done and break it down into smaller steps if needed. For example, if your action plan involves promoting a new product, tasks could include designing promotional materials, creating social media posts, and reaching out to potential partners.
  • Next, evaluate the skills and expertise of your team members. Consider their strengths, weaknesses, and past experiences with similar projects. This will help you match team members with tasks that best suit their abilities. For instance, someone with graphic design expertise should be responsible for creating promotional materials.
  • Once you’ve determined which team members are best suited for each task, clearly communicate their roles and responsibilities. This can be done through a project management tool, an email, or a team meeting. Make sure everyone is aware of their duties and the deadlines for each task.
  • Keep track of everyone’s progress, and hold regular check-ins to see how each team member is doing with their assigned tasks.
  • Be open to adjusting your action plan and roles as necessary. Sometimes, unforeseen challenges can arise and require you to modify your plan.

Creating a Time Frame

When working on your action plan, it’s important to establish a realistic time frame for achieving your goals. This helps you stay on track and prioritize tasks effectively. We will walk you through the process of creating a time frame for your action plan.

  • First, break down your primary goal into smaller, manageable tasks. Think of these tasks as stepping stones that will lead you toward your overall objective. For example, if your goal is to start a new business, your tasks might include researching your target market, establishing a budget, and developing a marketing strategy.
  • Next, assign a deadline to each task. Deadlines should be specific and set in stone but make sure to be flexible enough to adjust as necessary. Use a calendar or planner to visualize your timeline, marking important dates and milestones. For example, you could set a four-month deadline for completing market research and a six-month deadline for securing initial funding.
  • To keep yourself accountable, set reminders or notifications for important deadlines. This can be done using digital tools like smartphone apps or traditional methods, such as sticky notes on your workspace. Regularly reviewing your progress and adjusting your time frame when needed will help you stay on track.
  • Lastly, consider any external factors that might impact your time frame. Are there seasonal events, holidays, or industry-specific deadlines that could affect your ability to complete tasks? Factor in these considerations as you build your timeline.

Resource Allocation

When creating an action plan, resource allocation plays a major role. You’ll need to determine the resources required for each task and how they’ll be distributed among team members. This usually includes time, budget, and human resources.

  • Start by estimating the time each task will take. Break tasks down into smaller chunks and allocate a specific deadline to each. This will help you prioritize tasks and balance workloads for your team members. For example, if designing a marketing campaign takes four weeks, divide it into weekly tasks like conducting market research, creating promotional materials, and setting up advertisements.
  • Next, determine the budget needed to complete your project. Identify any expenses such as salaries, equipment, software, and project-related costs like travel. Create a budget for each task to avoid overspending, and allocate funds accordingly. Using our marketing campaign example, allocate separate budgets for market research tools, graphic design tools, and advertising platforms.
  • Lastly, allocate human resources to tasks based on their skills and expertise. Delegate responsibilities to your team members, ensuring that everyone has a clear understanding of their role in the project. If needed, identify additional hires or outside consultants to fill gaps in your team’s expertise. For instance, if your team lacks graphic design experience, consider hiring a graphic designer or outsourcing the work to a design agency.
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705-351-3309, growth plan.

Your growth plan is essentially your game plan to reaching your growth targets and is an important step in growing your business. A growth plan clearly states your objectives and the steps and activities you plan on implementing to achieve these objectives.

Similar to your business plan, a growth plan can include:

  • Your company’s mission.
  • Your long-term vision and strategic goals
  • The methods you plan to use to attain your goals, including how you plant to fund your goals

However, your growth plan should be different in content and purpose than the plan you created for your start-up business and should address the following questions:

  • How will you reproduce your previous successes?
  • What financial standards, operating standards and policies and procedures need to be in place in order for your business to grow?
  • What are your plans for rollout and expansion?
  • What competitors exist? This is particularly important if you are expanding into a new market
  • What are your staffing requirements for growth?
  • What are your actual financial results and how will these change as you grow your business? These include actual expenses, details on how many prospects turn into customers, receivables aging, etc.
  • What capital is required to grow your business? Cash flow is critical during the growth stage.
  • What have you learned to date about your business, customers, competitors and your market?

When creating your company’s growth plan, it is critical to closely evaluate your company operations including marketing, human resources and financials. Prior to implementing your growth plans, it is important to review your current business practices to ensure your operations are running effectively and if there are opportunities to realize efficiencies and cut costs. In addition, conducting this internal evaluation first can you help you determine if your company will be able to meet the demands of the growth plan.

Finally, share your growth plan with advisors, mentors and staff. Sharing your growth plan with your employees can be inspirational for the company as a whole, and can help ensure that everyone is working together to reach your growth goals.

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How to Write a Professional Growth Plan

Last Updated: October 21, 2021 References

This article was co-authored by Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC . Adrian Klaphaak is a career coach and founder of A Path That Fits, a mindfulness-based boutique career and life coaching company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also is an accredited Co-Active Professional Coach (CPCC). Klaphaak has used his training with the Coaches Training Institute, Hakomi Somatic Psychology and Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) to help thousands of people build successful careers and live more purposeful lives. This article has been viewed 105,607 times.

A professional growth plan is a document that outlines a professional's goals, strengths, weaknesses, and an action plan for achieving career objectives. Although graduating students, educators, employees in large companies, and executive coaching clients are the individuals who commonly create career development plans, growth planning is useful for anyone who wants a concrete strategy for achieving career goals. Use the following steps to write a professional growth plan.

Assessing Your Current Situation

Step 1 Sit down to write a professional growth plan.

  • Create a special folder in your computer for recording your growth plan.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes following through these steps and recording your answers. [2] X Research source

Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC

Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC

Your growth plan can help you clarify your goals. Career coach Adrian Klaphaak says: "You don't have to perfectly define every last part of yourself when you're making a professional growth plan. The important thing is to reconnect to yourself before you start exploring career possibilities. Doing that can give you confidence in the value that you bring and direct you toward careers that fit you."

Step 2 Determine how well your career is progressing at the moment.

  • Expand on each of your skill categories with a few concise sentences that describe what exactly you excel at in that category. Include notable examples in which you demonstrated that skill.
  • Doing so will help you better describe your skills on your resume or in future interviews.
  • Your transferable skills can also be a jumping-off point for figuring out where to go next professionally. [4] X Research source

Setting Goals

Step 1 Write down specific professional goals.

  • For example, it's difficult to gauge your progress towards "have a higher salary," but easy to see how close you are to "earning $20,000 more annually."
  • Include intermediate goals between now and your larger professional goals. For example, try considering where you want to be in two years as you work towards your five-year goal. [5] X Research source
  • Alternately, you can start from your main goal and then work backwards from there to identify intermediate goals. [6] X Research source
  • Make sure your goals actually mean something to you. That is, choose and focus on careers that motivate and inspire you. For example, you may be working as an administrative assistant, but feel excited by the idea of managing your own projects for the same company. Or maybe you are a marketing manager for a large company and are energized by the thought of starting your own marketing firm.

"If you don't clarify your goals, you may feel overwhelmed and directionless while looking for a new career."

Step 2 Perform a gap analysis.

  • Specify the required actions and steps for achieving your career goals. For example, becoming a project manager at your present company may require asking your supervisor if you may take on more project responsibilities. If you are a new graduate, getting a job at an engineering firm may involve sending out resumes to local firms, speaking to your social network and/or cold calling the firms.
  • Identify any professional obstacles, fears, or concerns. Reflect on any challenges that may be slowing your progress. For example, if your intended career requires you to speak in public and this is a fear, make a note of this concern.
  • Address obstacles by strengthening your skills. For example, if you are afraid of speaking in public, plan to take a public speaking course. If your desired career requires proficiency in a specific computer application, sign up for a class at the local college, study online, or learn by reading the application manual. Be specific about the steps you will take to gain new skills.

Step 5 Identify the resources required to meet your goals.

Achieving Professional Growth

Step 1 Begin following your plan immediately.

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  • ↑ http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2011/06/21/creating-your-professional-development-plan-3-surprising-truths/#6501939027bb
  • ↑ http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-advice/managing-your-career/1575/how-to-create-a-professional-development-plan
  • ↑ http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/admin-admired-creating-your-professional-development-plan.aspx
  • ↑ http://www.careerealism.com/steps-career-development-plan/
  • ↑ https://www.recruiter.com/i/6-steps-to-create-a-professional-development-plan/

About This Article

Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC

To write a professional growth plan, start by taking a close look at your strengths, weaknesses, and any progress you’ve made in your career. From there, you can get an idea of what needs to change and what kinds of goals to set for yourself. When you create your career goals, keep them specific and measurable—for example, “I plan to increase my productivity by 20% over the next year.” If you’re not sure how to attain your goals, do some research or talk to your boss or mentor about it. For more tips, including how to set a timeline for your professional growth and how to implement your new plan, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How To Get a Promotion Without Even Asking, According to a Business Coach

Posted: November 19, 2023 | Last updated: November 19, 2023

Feeling undervalued and underpaid at work but don't know how to move up from your current role? If you don't feel ready to request a promotion and raise, there are ways you can potentially achieve both without asking.

Jennifer Messina is a business coach and psychologist based in New York, specializing in executive leadership, organizational transformation and employee professional actualization.

"The most common reason it can be difficult to ask directly for a promotion is that it's simply awkward to discuss money with your boss," she told Newsweek .

The downside of never having that discussion is that you may get passed over for a great opportunity or "fail to earn what your performance merits," the business coach warned.

Those feeling unhappy in their current job are certainly not alone in the age of quiet quitting and rage applying .

Only around half (51 percent) of workers in the U.S. were reported to be either "extremely" or "very satisfied" with their job overall, according to a February 2023 survey by the Pew Research Center.

Around a third were reported to be either "extremely" or "very satisfied" with how much they are paid (34 percent) and their opportunities for promotion at work (33 percent), the survey found.

Five Ways to Get a Promotion and Raise Without Asking

Messina is the founder and co-CEO of FORTE and has advised athletes, celebrities, the U.S. military , Fortune 100 companies and finance leaders.

She noted that "every company's promotion structure is different, so it is important for workers to be thoughtful about the best approach for their particular organization."

The business coach said: "There is a vulnerability to asking for a promotion and many avoid doing so in order to shield themselves from that experience."

Others may be crippled by a sense of self-doubt, often referred to as "imposter syndrome," and the fear of getting a "no" can be "complex to navigate," she added.

However, "humbly advocating for oneself is a sign of professional maturity and the surest path to the promotion and raise that has been earned," the business coach noted.

Below are some ways you can bag a promotion and a raise without asking, according to Messina.

Have Regular Check-Ins With Your Manager

The business coach advised proactively establishing regular check-ins with your manager. "Use these meetings to get some clarity, including understanding the needs of the business and your own areas of strength and opportunities for growth."

These check-ins can also be a great way to showcase your work and achievements on an ongoing basis, so that "your manager is already well aware of your achievements when it comes time for annual reviews," she noted.

Establish Clear Growth Goals

Discuss clear goals with your manager and the human resources department.

If you're hoping to earn a promotion, communicate your professional aspirations and help the employer to understand your "why," such as long-term goals, a deep interest in learning and growing, a belief in the potential of your company, Messina advised.

"Ensure there are clear milestones for the promotion you seek and what an appropriate cadence would be to track your progress," whether quarterly or bi-annually, she added.

Create an Action Plan

Establish a roadmap for developing skills that supersede your current role. This can include building additional industry expertise and the required interpersonal skills to step into the role for which you are striving.

Messina explained: "You will be in the best position to be selected for a promotion if you are far exceeding the competence required for your current role and are a collaborative and reliable teammate. Executing your action plan will make it abundantly clear that you are ready for the next level."

Actively Seek and Be Highly Responsive to Feedback

Messina noted: "High self-awareness, a growth mindset and strong communication skills are all assets that leaders look for when a position opens up for which they could hire within the current team."

Look for Ways To Grow the Business as a Whole

The business coach advised proactively looking for solutions that will benefit your entire department. Volunteer for "stretch and cross-functional assignments," with a focus on growing the business as a whole and not just your personal development.

"Companies want to invest in employees who are equally as invested in them," she said.

Do you have a work-related questions or dilemma to share? Let us know at [email protected] and we can ask experts for advice , and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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A stock image of a woman smiling while speaking to a man at a desk. "The most common reason it can be difficult to ask directly for a promotion is that it’s simply awkward to discuss money with your boss” and it can feel uncomfortable," a psychologist and business coach told Newsweek.

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