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Business Plan Execution. Get Specific.

Business plan execution specifics

The business plan execution specifics are my favorite part of business planning, and especially lean business planning. This is the real plan, what’s actually going to happen. It includes at least these four elements:

Review Schedule. Make sure you schedule monthly plan review sessions in advance. Think of something like the third Thursday of every month. Even if it’s just you. Click here for more on this.

Identifying and Listing Assumptions. When assumptions change, the plan should change. If you don’t list your assumptions then you don’t know. Identity and list your business plan assumptions so you can refer back to them. It’s the key to knowing when to change the plan and when to stay the course. Click here for more on this.

Milestones. List specific activities, responsibilities, tasks, dates, deadlines, and budgets. We humans work better towards specific concrete goals, like reaching some number, or some event, that we can keep track of. Click here for more on this.

Metrics. Devise specific performance metrics that can be measured, tracked, and managed. These are numbers that people can see and compare. Click here for more on this.

These business plan execution specifics are the key to making a business plan useful. Remember, it’s steering your business that matters.

“Good business plans are nine parts execution for every one part strategy.” — Tim Berry

“Measure the value of a plan by the execution it causes.” — Tim Berry

“What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done.”

Business Plan Milestones

There’s no real plan without business plan milestones. Milestones are what you use to manage responsibilities, track results, and review and revise. The tracking and review means management, and accountability.

Milestones in a Lean Business Plan

Business Plan Milestones
Milestones for business planning

Just as you need tactics to execute strategy, so too you need milestones to execute tactics. Look for a close match between tactics and milestones.

List milestones. Set down what’s supposed to happen, and when. Use it for ongoing tactics related to products, services, marketing, administration, and finance. They include launch dates, review dates, prototype availability, 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.

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Give each milestone at least the following:

  • Name
  • Date
  • Budget
  • 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:

Sample Milestones Table