January is a great time to lay out your plan for your team’s success—to establish your vision for the year and your strategy for achieving that vision. Business plans help you define your goals and stay on track to achieve them. A good business plan answers these questions:
- Where am I now?
- Where am I going?
- How am I going to get there?
- How will I know I got there?
Follow these 10 steps to write a business plan for your team:
1. Develop a standard business plan format and reuse it. For example, divide the plan into sections: (1) An overview of existing conditions including opportunities and obstacles. (2) Where you would like your team to be in three to five years as well as by the end of the year. (3) Your action plan including goals/objectives, target dates for completing action items, and measures of success. Use headings, lists, and charts to increase readability.
2. Identify the overall mission or central purpose of your team. Describe the overarching mission of your organization and the value your team brings to your organization.
3. Identify the guiding principles by which your team will operate. For example, you might name such values as innovation, integrity, leadership, quality, respect for others, and teamwork.
4. Provide an overview of where you are now. Include any background information you believe will help readers understand your plan. Summarize achievements and performance to date.
5. Identify the three to five major objectives that your team must achieve to be successful—to realize your mission. Prioritize those objectives.
- Increase productivity X% while maintaining quality standard.
- Improve employee retention to meet industry standard of X%.
6. Summarize your team’s strengths and opportunities. Describe whatever is in place that will help your team meet your objectives. For example, your team might possess particular expertise and experience, have established good relationships with stakeholders, or have upgraded specific tools. If appropriate for your team (for example, if you are a sales team), define your team’s competitive advantage—the strengths that differentiate you from the competition.
7. Summarize obstacles/risks. Define what could get in the way of your team’s meeting your objectives. For example, is your organization or team affected by new legislation, moving to a new location, hiring a lot of new employees, restructuring, implementing new computer programs or processes, or using new materials or a new supplier or vendor?
8. Describe your team’s strategy to meet your objectives—the rules or guidelines by which your team will meet your objectives. What must your team focus on to achieve your objectives? Show how you will take advantage of opportunities and overcome obstacles.
- Standardize and streamline procedures in X process to meet Y standards in time for 09/06/XX training in Z area.
- Increase sales of ABC product to X customer group via Y distribution channel in Z area 10% by 12/31/XX.
9. Provide an action plan, indicating responsibilities, timing/schedule/milestones, and specific measures of success. How will you know that your team has completed the action item and that the result is of the desired quality? Identify required resources and describe dependencies.
- Lead group to generate updated procedures for D process by 03/14/XX—Alice Richardson.
- Call on A companies (those with B characteristics) in C area by 02/27/XX—All field sales representatives.
10. Review and update your business plan monthly. Change strategies, action items, and deadlines to reflect changes in your team and your work environment.
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