Objectives: Your objectives should be crystal clear and specifically spelled out, since you’ll use them as a building block for the rest of the implementation plan. For example, let’s assume your startup is a small consulting firm. Your objective should be tough but reachable, and could read something like this:
- Secure office space and be open for business in three months.
- Sign three clients within first three months of operations.
- Sign 10 clients within first year.
Tasks: This part details what must be accomplished to achieve your objectives. Include a task manager for each step, so that roles are clearly defined and there is accountability. As you enumerate tasks and assignments, these descriptions should be plainly and generally stated; don’t get into a step-by-step, micromanaged explanation of how the tasks will be carried out. Emphasize the expected results associated with these tasks. Continuing with the above example, the tasks section might read like this:
- Secure office space – real estate agent
- Obtain licenses and permits – you
- Set up office phones and computers – office manager
- Begin recruiting clients – sales manager
- Create marketing collateral – marketing manager
- Solicit referrals from clients – relationship manager
Time allocation: Each task should be paired with an appropriate time frame for completion. You should be aggressive but reasonable with your time allocation in order to ensure not just completion but competent work. For assistance in framing this timescale, use a program such as Microsoft Project, or just create your own Gantt chart – a helpful tool that shows how long it will take to complete different tasks and in what order the tasks should be finished.
Progress: You or a member of your management team needs to be in charge of monitoring each task’s progress and the completion percentage of each objective. When delays occur, try to get to the root of the problem. Did the person responsible drop the ball? Did he or she have too many responsibilities to handle? Did a third party, such as a supplier or the bank, fail to hold up its end of a deal? Adjust your Gantt chart appropriately to account for the delay, and make a note of the previous deadline and the reason it was missed.
While the above steps may seem like overkill, the early days of a startup are critically important; it’s a time when good management patterns are set and also probably a lean era when revenue has yet to start rolling in. The more efficiently you start implementing your business plan, the more likely it is that you will survive this early period.