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New Year, New Plan? 14 Ways To Follow Through On Execution

Starting off the new year with a new business plan can be an exciting prospect. As the year progresses and the initial thrill wears off, however, it’s easy to lose momentum.

How can you ensure your team follows through with the execution of that plan? We asked members of Forbes Business Development Council to share their best tips for implementing — and more importantly, sticking with — a new business plan. Their top responses are below.

1. Set Measurable Goals

We work on setting measurable goals for 90, 180 and 360 days to make sure we are hitting those as we progress through the year. We also use our monthly KPI meetings with executive staff to make sure we are staying on course with our individual goals as well as with our company goals. These consistent follow-ups help us keep these goals fresh and relevant in our year's progress. - Angie Barnes, NAVCO

2. Reward Your Team

Keeping your team motivated is a constant challenge. Creating rewards that they come up with attributed to goals that the management team has set has worked well for us to stay motivated all year-round. Last year, we did animal encounters, volunteering days and theme parks. - Joel Goldstein, Mr. Checkout Distributor

3. Avoid 'Write Only' Business Plans

When producing a document like a business plan, too often we trade usefulness for seeming serious and important. The most important quality of a business plan is to force business leaders to think and discuss. Putting pen to paper and getting redlines and disagreements is the only way to get the value out of planning. An informal brief plan that inspires rigorous thinking is best. - Kit Merker, Meshmark

4. Make Your Objectives Visible

Don't keep objectives hidden; make them publicly accessible. Summarize the plan, write out the KPIs, set achievable milestones and make this information visible where people are working. The important thing is to take business plans out of people’s computers and put them on the walls. Track progress and celebrate achievements monthly to keep everyone motivated and working toward the same goal. - Christian Valiulis, Automatic Payroll Systems

5. Celebrate Short-Term Successes

Starting a new plan is always exciting, but we tend to look at the final goal and visualize success at that point. Things take longer than we think and long-term success is the result of many short and mid-term goals achieved in the best strategic way possible. Don't lose sight of the long term, but build and work for what will get you there. Celebrate each step and feel accomplished. - David Mahbub, Field Agent

6. Write Out Your Goals And Action Steps Every Day

The biggest step in making a plan happen is to write out your goals, plans and actionable steps daily. Accomplish something every day toward that goal. Some days it will be little achievements (an idea or brainstorm session) and other days you may make big moves. Find someone who will keep you accountable for your actions. It can be sending a business partner, spouse or friend a simple text of "I did this today." - Karolina Hobson

7. Break Down The Yearly Goal Into Monthly And Quarterly Ones

We can all agree that a solid business plan is very important. In order to stick to the plan, it helps to have short-term measurable goals. Instead of just a plan with a goal for the year, I include monthly and quarterly goals. Let your short-term goals lead to your long-term goal by keeping you focused on the path you created to success. - Alex Kowtun, Monkey In Paradise Vodka

8. Integrate The Plan Into Employees' Daily Responsibilities

The best way of ensuring that a new business plan is acted upon is by integrating the business plan into the daily responsibilities of your employees. Take a document that can be academic in nature and transpose it into action items that members of your team will be accountable for. This way, you can implement your business plan and take measurable steps toward your goals in the new year. - Adam Mendler, The Veloz Group

9. Review The Plan Periodically

Get creative in your business plan so you stand out and grab someone’s attention. Use visuals like graphs, charts and images to help bring your concept to life. Be sure to then periodically review your business plan to refresh your memory of what was important to you from the start. You’ll be able to compare your plan with where your business is now and make adjustments to keep things on track. - Sarah Knapp, Spruce Technology

10. Make Everything Actionable

To execute a business plan, always make it actionable by breaking down each project step by step. Identify who will work on each task, include specific (and reasonable) deadlines and schedule regular team check-ins. As a business leader, always remember to celebrate your team’s small victories, especially with long-term projects; the recognition will drive motivation to keep going. - Scott Nelson, Joovv

11. Focus On The Daily And Weekly Adjustments

Most organizations establish a great, ambitious business plan, but they ignore the tactical execution it will take on a daily basis to get there. We plan large, annual plans and maybe even plan quarterly milestones. However, it's the day-to-day adjustments, weekly check-ins and monthly goals that get us where we want to go. - Stephen M. Lowisz, Qualigence

12. Have Regular Check-Ins

After your initial meeting, schedule regular check-ins (weekly/bimonthly). Break the business plan’s action items into quarterly goals that are manageable. Along the way, as you complete smaller items on the business plan, celebrate them! Every small win gets you closer to your end goal. If all else fails, put a quarterly spiff out that is contingent on the execution of the quarterly goals. - Jessica Blais, VintageView Wine Storage Systems

13. Measure And Evaluate Performance

The key to executing a business plan is measurement. You will never fully execute your plan if you never evaluate your performance so set aside a specific time for evaluation. You need separate, dedicated time to measure performance and determine what your next steps will be. If you don’t make time to measure progress, you’ll find that you’ll never make any progress to measure. - John McRae, Kforce

14. Execute For Today

Make sure you create a plan that first addresses the needs of the business today before you address the needs of the business five years from now. Many people build plans for what will happen down the road, but ignore executing today’s priorities. This causes business plans to “get over their skis” and shoot too far out without ever getting off the block. - Lisa Box, WP Engine, Inc.

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