There’s no real plan without milestones. Milestones are what you use to manage responsibilities, track results, and review and revise. And without tracking and review, there is no management, and no accountability.
Milestones in a Lean Business Plan
Just as you need tactics to execute strategy, so too you need milestones to execute tactics. Normally you’ll look for a close match between tactics and milestones.
Take your milestones list and categorize what’s supposed to happen, and when, for ongoing tactics related to products, services, marketing, administration, and finance. They include launch dates, review dates, prototype availabilities, advertising, social media, website development, programs to generate leads and traffic. The milestones set the plan tactics into practical, concrete terms, with real budgets, deadlines, and management responsibilities. They are the building blocks of strategy and tactics. And they are essential to your ongoing plan-vs.-actual management and analysis, which is what turns your planning into management.
Give each milestone at least the following:
- Person responsible
- Start and end dates
- Expected performance metric
- Relationship with specific tactics and strategy points
You might also have additional information for main milestones. Then make sure all your people know that you will be following the plan, tracking the milestones, and analyzing the plan-vs.-actual results. If you don’t follow up, your plan will not be implemented.
You develop your milestones by thinking through strategy, tactics and actions for business offering and marketing. So you can naturally divide them into the same categories as your tactics: marketing and sales, product, and other (where “other” might be, as with tactics, financing activities like raising investment or contracting commercial credit). Or the milestones might be related to legal issues, or managing a team, or logistics like moving or opening a new location.
Sample Lean Business Plan Milestones
The illustration here shows the milestones from the bicycle shop lean business plan: