A Business Plan is not a document for entrepreneurs and small business owners to put on the shelf and think about occasionally. Rather, it is a tool that will define and prioritize the processes our businesses can, and should, do in order to become more successful.
So far, we’ve covered several key elements: Objectives, Mission Statement, and Strategies. These have been broad statements of purpose, meaning and process. Tactics are quite different, yet come from and support each of the above plan elements. As we move through the Business Plan outline, we get more specific at each level.
Tactics are defined, measurable and achievable actions that will turn a Strategy into reality, helping us to achieve our Objectives. They are the point at which planning turns into an action list.
Let’s add to the Business Plan we’ve been building, by adding specific tactics to each strategy – but keep in mind that this plan is theoretical. I am not, nor have I ever been, a plumber.
Ace Plumbing Company
Objective #1 - Generate a reasonable income for my employees and me.
Strategy 1-A: Determine an hourly billing rate that will maximize earnings.
Tactic: Study local competitors to find pricing opportunities (e.g., premium vs cut-rate vs average price).
Tactic: Build a financial plan incorporating these findings.
Tactic: Charge more for after-hours emergency calls.
Tactic: Create an annual maintenance plan for business customers, giving them priority.
Strategy 1-B: Introduce the business in a compelling way to potential new customers.
Tactic: Study competitors to see how they differ.
Tactic: Develop a tagline and logo for brand recognition across all customer touch points (e.g., van signage, invoices, estimates, and advertising).
Tactic: Develop a basic website that reflects the Ace personality in a positive way.
Tactic: Make personal contact with key prospects.
Objective #2 - Build a loyal base of repeat customers.
Strategy 2-A: Make sure that each customer is satisfied with the work that is done.
Tactic: Make sure employees are sufficiently trained or experienced to handle each job assigned.
Tactic: Place a follow-up call or send an email after service visits.
Tactic: Include a thank you card with each invoice, encouraging customers to call if there are any problems.
Tactic: Establish a set clear of expectations for the customer.
Strategy 2-B: Remind past customers that Ace is interested in serving their current and future needs.
Tactic: At least 2 times per year, contact local building contractors who may need Ace’s services.
Tactic: Send out Holiday cards to our most valued customers.
Objective #3 - Reflect my personal values of respect and responsibility.
Strategy 3-A: Train my employees to represent my values.
Tactic: Cover these on the first day of work/orientation.
Tactic: Have regular, required weekly company meetings to discuss issues and opportunities. Include all appropriate personnel.
Strategy 3-B: Clearly state company values.
Tactic: For employees: With office signage and in actions/policies.
Tactic: Incorporate these into the website.
Obviously, there are numerous tactics than can be included in our plan. They should be relevant and do-able, rather than simply taking up space.
We need at least one or two Tactics for every Strategy, but should list every one that is reasonable. If we cannot come up with any, the Strategy might need to be set aside until later. In addition, if we feel a Tactic is important, but cannot tie it to a Strategy, we may want to loop back and add a new Strategy. Thus, the Business Plan becomes an iterative process. We are continually solving the problem of how to improve our business.
Tactics are the details – the action items. By thinking them through, and documenting them in the plan, we are more likely to achieve our goals.
If this process feels a bit overwhelming, you will find much easier with practice. In time, the structure will give you a disciplined perspective on your business and the best ways to move forward.
What Tactics should you include in order to flesh out your plan?
Until we meet again,
The Entrepreneur’s Friend
The Entrepreneur’s Friend® is a registered trademark of Wheaton Consulting Group LLC. Photo credits: All photos were taken by Cynthia Wheaton and owned by Wheaton Consulting Group LLC except as noted. Coffee cup art by Jim Wheaton. Author support: Fellow authors from The Wrinklings and Light of Carolina Christian Writers Group.