small business action plan example

Small Business Action Plan Template

  • Align team members around objectives
  • Prioritize tasks based on impact and effort
  • Manage progress and optimize resources for collective success

Benefits of a Small Business Action Plan Template

  • Can help you take concrete steps to achieve your business goals
  • Can help you track and monitor progress
  • Can provide you with a roadmap to future success

Main Elements of a Action Plan Template for Small Business

  • A specific goal or objectives for the business
  • Time frame for achieving the objective
  • Action items and timelines for each stage
  • A strategy for measuring progress
  • A contingency plan in case of any setbacks

How to Use a Small Business Action Plan Template

1. define your goals., 2. set milestones., 3. analyze resources needed., 4. develop a timeline., 5. monitor progress and adjust accordingly, related action plan template.

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10+ Small Business Action Plan Examples [ Startup, Project, Development ]

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Small Business Action Plan

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What is an action plan and how to create one + an example.

An action plan is an organized list of steps that you can take to reach a desired goal. Creating an action plan requires carefully considering resources, goals, and available time. With a well-structured action plan, you can reach your goals in the most efficient way possible. Here’s how to create an action plan – plus some helpful examples and time-saving tips to guide you during your strategic planning process.

Table of Contents

What is an Action Plan?

At one point or another, you may have a task that seems larger than life. But an action plan helps.

In essence, an action plan is a systematic, detailed blueprint, or a comprehensive document, that lays out the strategy to achieve a certain goal or set of goals. It’s similar to a roadmap, providing clear directions on how you can move from your current status to your desired state.

small business action plan example

The concept of an action plan is not limited to any specific domain, making it a versatile tool. It can be applied in various fields such as business, education, project management, personal growth, healthcare, and so forth.

A well-crafted action plan typically encompasses several elements:

  • Objective: The objective is the ultimate goal that you aim to achieve. It needs to be clear and precise. This is the “destination” you’re striving to reach, so it’s vital to define it in a way that leaves no room for ambiguity. Often, the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) is used to frame these objectives.

Action plan - objectives

  • Steps or Tasks: Once the goal is set, the next stage is to break it down into smaller, manageable steps or tasks. Each task should be straightforward, feasible, and should contribute directly to the attainment of the ultimate goal. For example, when you break down a large project into smaller, manageable tasks, it keeps you on track to success, and makes staying motivated in business easier during tough projects.

Action plan - tasks

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  • Resources: For each task, you should also identify the necessary resources. These can be physical resources, such as equipment or materials, or human resources, like specific skills or personnel. By identifying these upfront, you can better plan and mitigate potential bottlenecks.

Action plan - resources

  • Timeline: It’s also crucial to set a timeline for each task, which includes a start and an end date. This not only instills a sense of urgency but also helps to track progress over time. A well-planned schedule can also prevent tasks from overlapping or clashing.

action plan - timeline

  • Responsibility Assignment: Each task needs a responsible person or team who will see it through to completion. Defining this ensures accountability and prevents tasks from being overlooked.

Action plan - responsibility assignment

  • Contingency Plan: Despite the best of planning, unforeseen circumstances may arise. Having a contingency plan prepares you for such scenarios, ensuring that your plan remains robust and flexible.

action plan -contingency plan

  • Tracking and Evaluation: An important aspect of an action plan is tracking progress and evaluating outcomes. This step is essential as it allows you to adjust your plan as needed, based on the performance of each task or changing circumstances.

Action plan Tracking and Evaluation

Creating an Effective Action Plan

Creating an effective action plan is an integral part of achieving any goal. In the following video, Brian Tracy, a well-known speaker and author in the field of self-development, outlines his method for formulating such a plan. Tracy’s process, built from years of experience, provides clear and practical steps that can be applied to any project or objective.

Do I Need an Action Plan?

Everyone who has set business goals should strive for effective business planning . Without an action plan, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed by significant goals or lose sight of what perspectives should guide the decision-making process. Having an organized, realistic plan is how to stay motivated and stay focused on reaching success.

This is especially true for larger companies that are trying to navigate complex projects or launch multiple initiatives at the same time. An action plan can help them stay organized, track project progress, anticipate potential challenges, and simplify hiring .

Smaller businesses can also benefit from having an action plan, as it will provide a road map for scaling up operations in the future. An effective action plan should include strategies, resources, timelines, revenue targets , and measures of success. The business budget and cash flow should always be taken into account when creating an action plan.

action plan

Why Your Business Should Have an Action Plan

Every business should have an action plan as it’s essential to success and keeping your company on track. Here are five reasons your business needs one:

  • Clarity of Purpose: An action plan lets everyone in your company know exactly what they need to accomplish, so they can stay focused and productive. Set call-to-action examples and performance expectations so everyone knows what to strive for.
  • Measurable Results: Having specific goals and a timeline helps you keep track of your progress, see what’s working, and adjust plans when needed.
  • Achievable Goals: Action plans make sure that you don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic objectives. Outline steps for success in manageable pieces.
  • Effective Use of Resources : An action plan helps you prioritize tasks and resources, so you can get the best return on investment (ROI). Public relations strategies and campaigns are two common examples.
  • Increased Accountability: By clearly defining roles, responsibilities, deadlines, and expectations, everyone involved is more accountable for their tasks and the success of the project overall.

How to Write an Action Plan

An effective action plan operates as a guiding light, leading the way towards achieving specific objectives, milestones, and goals. For any project or substantial task, it can be the pivotal element that swings the balance between success and failure.

To make the process of creating an action plan easier, we’ve provided a summary table below. This table functions like a checklist, outlining clear steps and eliminating any confusion about what needs to be done next.

Having this overview can be a great starting point, but a deeper understanding of each step will further assist you in crafting a robust action plan. So let’s get started and explore each of these steps in more detail.

Step 1: Define the goal

small business action plan example

Defining project goals is a critical first step in the action-planning process. It involves establishing a clear and concise objective that guides the rest of the plan. A well-defined goal serves as a roadmap for the team, providing direction and focus for their efforts. It also helps to keep everyone aligned and on track, ensuring that the plan is executed effectively.

To define a goal effectively, it is important to consider several key factors. First, the goal should be specific, meaning that it should clearly state what is to be achieved. Second, it should be measurable, allowing for progress to be tracked and evaluated.

Third, it should be attainable, meaning that it should be realistic and achievable given the available resources and constraints. Fourth, the goal should be relevant and aligned with the organization’s overall strategy and goals. Finally, it should have a specific timeline, with deadlines established to ensure that the goal is achieved within a reasonable period of time.

Step 2: Project management – Identify the necessary actions

small business action plan example

This step outlines the specific tasks and activities that need to be performed in order to achieve the defined goal. It involves breaking down the goal into smaller, manageable steps and determining what needs to be done to accomplish each step. The actions should be specific, measurable, and have clear deliverables.

Project management plays a vital role in this step, as it helps to ensure that the necessary actions are planned and executed effectively. Project managers use a variety of tools and techniques to identify the necessary actions, such as creating a work breakdown structure, creating a project schedule, and identifying project dependencies.

They also work closely with the team to ensure that the necessary resources are available, that risks are identified and managed, and that progress is tracked and reported. Using project management best practices, the team can ensure that the necessary actions are performed efficiently and effectively and that the project remains on track and on schedule.

Step 3: Assign tasks and responsibilities to project managers and any person responsible

Assign tasks and responsibilities to project managers and any person responsible

Assigning tasks and responsibilities is a key step in the action planning process, as it ensures that all the tasks have a designated person responsible for their completion. This step involves identifying who will be responsible for each of the necessary actions identified in the previous step and assigning ownership for the delivery of each task. It is important to ensure that responsibilities are clearly defined and that each person understands their role and what is expected of them.

Project managers play a central role in assigning responsibilities, as they are responsible for ensuring that the right person is assigned to each task. They work closely with team members to understand their strengths, skills, and availability, and make assignments based on this information.

They may also assign backup resources to ensure the team can complete tasks even if the primary person responsible is unavailable. It is important to remember that assigning responsibilities is a collaborative process, and that team members should have the opportunity to provide input and feedback. Employ team building exercises to promote teamwork, and provide streamlined methods for employees to communicate with managers and decision makers.

Step 4: Determine the timeline and deadlines

small business action plan example

This step involves creating a timeline that outlines when each task should start and finish, and when milestones should be reached. The timeline should be based on the scope of the project, the availability of resources, and any other constraints. Use a calendar or gannt chart to outline the exact schedule for each step.

Having a clear timeline and deadlines helps to keep the project on track and ensures that tasks are completed in a timely manner. It also provides a clear visual representation of the project’s progress and helps to identify any potential issues or delays.

Deadlines also help to keep team members accountable and focused, as they know when they need to have their tasks completed. Deadlines also help to prioritize tasks and ensure that the most important work is completed first.

Step 5: Establish a system for monitoring progress

small business action plan example

Establishing a system for monitoring progress provides a way to track the project’s progress and identify any issues or challenges that may arise. This step involves implementing tools, processes, and metrics that can be used to measure the project’s progress against the timeline and goals. The system for monitoring progress should be simple, efficient, and easy to use.

Having a system for monitoring progress is important for several reasons. First, it provides real-time visibility into the project’s progress, allowing the project manager and team to quickly identify any issues or challenges that may arise.

Second, it helps to keep everyone accountable and focused, as team members know that their work will be monitored and evaluated. Third, it allows for continuous improvement, as the project manager can use the data and metrics collected to identify areas for improvement and make adjustments as needed.

Step 6: Track progress, evaluate, and adjust as necessary

small business action plan example

Evaluating and adjusting as necessary is a critical step in the action planning process, as it provides a way to ensure that the project remains on track and is executed effectively.

This step involves regularly reviewing the actual progress of the project and making any necessary adjustments to the plan, timeline, and actions. The evaluation should be based on the system for monitoring progress that was established in a previous step.

Tracking progress is an important part of this step, as it provides the data and metrics needed to evaluate the project’s progress and identify any areas for improvement. The project manager should use the system for monitoring progress to track key metrics, such as task completion rates, timeline progress, and resource utilization. This information can then be used to assess the project’s progress against the goals and timeline and to identify any areas for improvement.

By evaluating and adjusting as necessary, the project manager can ensure that the project remains on track and is executed effectively. This helps to minimize disruptions and delays and ensures that the project stays aligned with the goals and objectives.

The process of evaluating and adjusting should be continuous, with regular evaluations and progress reviews. This allows the project manager to respond quickly to any changes or challenges that may arise, and to make any necessary adjustments to keep the project moving forward. For example, you may need to employ some time saving tips or delegate to get back on schedule. Alternatively, you may need to try some new call to action examples to more effectively impact customer behavior to meet your goals.

Plan of Action Example (Template)

small business action plan example

A well-structured action plan helps to keep the project on track and on schedule providing a clear path to success. Here’s an action plan template example you can use to inspire you for your own projects:

I. Define the goal:

A. Objective: Launch a new product line

B. SMART Goal: To launch a new product line in 6 months, generating $500,000 in revenue within the first year.

II. Identify necessary actions:

A. Conduct market research to determine the target audience and demand

B. Develop product prototypes and conduct testing

C. Create marketing materials and promotional campaigns

D. Set up the supply chain and logistics

E. Launch product through digital and physical channels

III. Assign responsibilities:

A. Market research: Marketing team

B. Product development: R&D team

C. Marketing plan , materials, and campaigns: Marketing team

D. Supply chain and logistics: Operations team

E. Product launch: Marketing and Operations teams

IV. Determine timeline and deadlines:

A. Market research: Month 1-2

B. Product development: Month 2-4

C. Marketing materials and campaigns: Month 4-5

D. Supply chain and logistics: Month 5-6

E. Product launch: Month 6

V. Establish a system for monitoring progress:

A. Key metrics: Revenue, market share, customer satisfaction

B. Tools: Project management software, weekly progress meetings

C. Progress review meetings: Every 2 weeks

VI. Evaluate and adjust as necessary:

A. Regularly review revenue and customer satisfaction data

B. Adjust marketing strategy and promotions as necessary

C. Monitor supply chain and logistics, and make adjustments as needed

D. Evaluate timeline and deadlines, and adjust as necessary to ensure a timely product launch.

Tips for Building a Fantastic Action Plan

Building an action plan is the first step to reaching your business goals. Here are five tips for creating a fantastic action plan:

  • Be Clear & Specific: Make sure that everyone involved in the project understands what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed. Set measurable and achievable targets, with specific timelines and deadlines.
  • Prioritize Tasks: Identify which tasks should take priority so you can focus on what’s important right now, while still having a plan for the future.
  • Start Small: Break large projects down into smaller components that you can do in stages, rather than trying to accomplish everything at once. Team-building exercises are a great way to keep energy and motivation high.
  • Outline Resources Needed: Research ahead of time what resources will be needed for each task and make sure you have everything in place beforehand.
  • Include Room for Change: The reality is that things don’t always go as planned so be prepared to adjust timelines or objectives as needed along the way.

Action Plan Vs To-Do List

Action plans and to-do lists may seem similar at first glance, but they are two different tools that serve specific purposes. An action plan is an organized approach to achieving a goal. It helps you break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable pieces and outlines the steps you need to take in order to reach your objectives.

A to-do list is a tool used to keep track of day-to-day tasks or items that need attention. It’s typically used as a checklist for getting things done in a certain timeframe. While both can be helpful when it comes to staying organized and productive, action plans offer a more comprehensive approach to reaching longer-term goals.

Action Plan Vs Project Plan

An action plan and a project plan are both tools used to help maintain organization and productivity when working toward a specific goal. Action plans focus on smaller tasks that need to be completed and prioritize them in an organized list.

Project plans are more comprehensive, providing an overview of all the steps required for completing a particular project. They usually include timelines, deadlines, resources needed, and other specifics. While action plans can help define the daily tasks necessary for completing a project, they should ultimately be formulated as part of the larger project plan.

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How to Write and Develop an Action Plan for Your Small Business

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6 min. read

Updated October 29, 2023

Taking action at the appropriate time is critical to turning your visions into a viable reality. However, doing so without a proper strategy can be a recipe for disaster. 

A well-designed and concrete action plan that weighs all the benefits and possible challenges is the key to executing your vision successfully. Furthermore, it makes tracking progress easier, which in turn helps you attain your goals. 

Whether it’s a business, personal, or career goal you are going after, the right action plan can be your roadmap to success. A comprehensive plan details all the information regarding your objectives and projects, such as the resources required, the complexity level of tasks, etc.

Let’s figure out how you can build one to achieve your goals successfully and efficiently.

  • What is an action plan and why is it important?

An action plan serves as a trajectory for the tasks or steps you need to accomplish to reach your goals and objectives. It is a crucial part of your strategic process that helps you improve teamwork planning significantly. Also, a proper action plan allows you to manage projects efficiently.

You have all the essential information in a centralized location that your team can access, making it easier for everybody to monitor progress and plan things successfully. As your company grows and circumstances change, you can revisit and make modifications to meet your latest requirements.

Planning of action items helps you prepare for any obstacles ahead. You’re your teams on track while ensuring impactful results. Furthermore, it also boosts your productivity and keeps everybody focused on urgent tasks.  

Here are some of the reasons why an action plan is vital for you:

  • It gives you a clear sense of direction by highlighting precisely the steps you need to take when you need to take that and what it will help you accomplish 
  • Having your objectives and goals on paper with structured steps keeps the team members motivated and dedicated throughout the project
  • You can gauge your and member’s progress and contribution toward the collective goals
  • You can turn your visions into reality, increase accountability and efficiency within your organization

How to create an effective action plan 

When it comes to creating an action plan, various practical methods and tools can help you develop a robust action program. Begin by following this straightforward 7-step strategy.

Following these steps for structuring your action plan incidentally also acts as a brilliant roadmap for your idea’s overall presentation and can effectively create a clear goal.

1. Define your scope

It is essential to define your scope, create a roadmap, and align it with your strategic planning . Make sure your actions guide you toward company goals. Start by gauging how your team members can contribute and help you achieve your objectives.

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

If you don’t have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, it might be challenging for you to plan a new initiative. Defining your current status and where you see your company helps you analyze the situation, explore potential solutions and implement strategies successfully.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) objectives or goals is a method of objective setting that enables employees and managers to set, monitor, and achieve their long-term and short-term goals. This approach brings tractability and structure together.

Once you map out your plan, scope, and aim to accomplish, the next step requires you to set well-defined goals and measurable tools. Create a template to highlight all the tasks that your team needs to perform and deadlines.

It is vital to make sure that your entire team is on the same page, involved in the process, and has access to the document. This way, the projects become manageable while also boosting team productivity.

Furthermore, ensure that the tasks are attainable. If you have more complex tasks, it’s essential to break them down into manageable parts for easy execution. 

3. Visualize your plan

Once you plan on the action items, prioritize tasks, and set milestones, the next step is creating a visual representation of your action plan. This visualization helps you engage your team and allow everyone to follow through to carry out activities.

A graphical presentation also makes it easier to get a bird’s eye view of your project. This way, you can identify your objectives and tasks that you weren’t able to execute or reach, allowing you to prioritize them to accomplish them.

You can elaborate your action plan with the help of a concept map that can help you explicitly communicate all the essential elements and information — task owners, tasks owners, resources, goals, objectives, deadlines, etc. Also, make sure the document is easily accessible to all. 

Additionally, you can also leverage online visual collaboration platforms to help you seamlessly visualize and structure your simple and complex concepts.

4. Prioritize your tasks

It is imperative to align all your activities with specific goals and assign them to relevant team members. When you list and prioritize all your tasks, it helps keep track of your projects’ status, progress, and completion. 

You could also structure your task list by importance. This way, everyone knows what needs to be done first to meet your deadlines effectively while ensuring that your employees can manage those tasks. That way, your team will also know their responsibilities and tasks to get done and engage them with a clear vision.

5. Set milestones 

Milestones are the objectives that your team aims to achieve to keep a specific project progressing at a steady pace. Your work will have a lot smoother flow when everybody is clear with goals.

When you set milestones , it serves as mini-goals that help you achieve your central goal towards the end. Adding milestones to your action plan is crucial to give your team members something to look forward to and encourage them to stay motivated throughout.

6. Identify your resources

Before starting your project, it is imperative to ensure that you have the critical resources to complete the tasks successfully. And if you don’t have adequate resources, devise a strategy to leverage what you have effectively. Include all the essential components such as the number of projects, budget, timelines, etc., to make sure you don’t miss out on vital aspects.

Knowing what you have to work with will ensure that any tasks or projects you set out to accomplish have a better chance of succeeding. If you don’t have enough cash, a large enough team, or even enough time to manage every project, you’ll soon find yourself struggling to meet milestones and deadlines.

7. Monitor, gauge, and update

It is pivotal to allocate time and resources to evaluate your projects’ and teams’ progress. Make sure you conduct frequent follow-ups with team members to see if everybody is on track. 

For this reason, you need to elaborate on the follow-up and assessment of teams in your action plan. This will help you implement the strategies that work well and eradicate the ineffective ones.

  • A guide to reaching your goals

An action plan is an indispensable tool that helps you guide your way to realizing your goals. It turns your visualization into actionable steps and milestones. 

From larger departments in an organization to individual employees, an action plan is a defined methodology that helps you outline your activities, tasks, resources, budget, objectives, etc. This, in turn, allows you to achieve desired outcomes.

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Content Author: JT Ripton

JT Ripton is a business consultant and a freelance writer out of Tampa. JT has written for companies like T-Mobile and others.

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About the one-page action plan

A one-page action plan is a brief overview of the goals you've set for your business and the actions you will take to achieve them. You can include an action plan as part of your overall business plan .

The plan is simple to use. Once you have completed it, post it up somewhere where you and your staff can see it regularly (the fridge in the kitchen or on the notice board). The goals and actions should be front-of-mind for everyone involved in the business.

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How to Write an Action Plan (Example Included)


What Is an Action Plan?

In project management, an action plan is a document that lists the action steps needed to achieve project goals and objectives. Therefore, an action plan clarifies what resources you’ll need to reach those goals, makes a timeline for the tasks or action items and determines what team members you’ll need. We’ll define what project goals, project objectives, action items and action steps are later in this guide.

An action plan documents the execution of the project plan; it’s a detailed list of the work that must be done to complete the project goals, including the action steps that are involved in getting from the start of the project to the finish. An action plan is similar to a project implementation plan and it’s very helpful during the project planning and project execution phases.

Not only are you figuring out the action steps and timeline, but you’ll also determine who you’ll assemble for your project team to work on those tasks. This requires robust project management software like ProjectManager . ProjectManager offers multiple action planning tools such as Gantt charts, kanban boards, project calendars and more. Best of all, these project planning views sync with project dashboards, timesheets and workload charts to keep track of progress, project resources and costs.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart showing a construction action plan

Action Plan Components

An action plan answers the who, what and when of what you’re proposing. Those questions are answered by the various components that make up an action plan. The following are the basic building blocks of a successful action plan.

  • Action Plan Steps: The action plan steps are the answer to the question of what. They’re the activities that’ll lead to achieving your goal. Action plan steps detail what will happen, and the more detail, the better.
  • Action Items: The action items are the specific, small tasks that make up the action plan steps. These are the tasks that, when executed, lead to the next action plan step.
  • Action Plan Timeline: An action plan timeline is the whole action plan laid out from start to finish. It shows the full duration of the action plan and every step and task is also plotted on this timeline, including their start and end dates.
  • Action Plan Resources: Resources are anything needed to execute the action plan. That includes labor, materials, equipment, etc. You’ll want to identify the resources you’ll need for the action plan and attach them to the tasks to which they’ll be applied.
  • Action Plan Matrix: A matrix is just a tool to help you determine which tasks you need to complete and in what order. Use our free action plan template to outline the steps, items, timeline and resources you’ll need to get the plan done right.
  • Action Plan Report: Once you start to execute the action plan, you’ll need to ensure your actual progress matches your planned progress. To track progress, you’ll want to use an action plan report, which is a snapshot of your time, costs and more over a specific period.

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Use this free Action Plan Template for Excel to manage your projects better.

Types of Action Plans

There are many different types of action plans that are used on various kinds of strategic initiatives. Each is similar in makeup but differs in their goals. Here are a few of the varieties of action plans.

Business Action Plan

A business action plan is used to set goals and tasks when you want to start a business or grow an existing business. It outlines the vision for the business and the actions you’ll take to achieve that vision.

Project Action Plan

An action plan for a project is really no different from a general action plan. The only difference is that it’s about producing a deliverable at the end of the plan, whether that be a product or service.

Personal Action Plan

Again, a personal action plan differs little from any other action plan except for the goal. For example, a personal action plan might be for an individual to exercise more. Therefore, the goal might be to walk for a half-hour a day, say, during lunchtime.

Action Plan Sample

Take a look at this sample of an action plan. We used our free action plan template for Excel  and filled out some potential marketing tasks, phases and assignees. Download this action plan template for free from our site, and get started on your own plan today.

action plan sample and free action plan template for Excel

How to Write an Action Plan for Project Management in 10 Steps

The benefits of an action plan are simple: you’ve now outlined what action steps and what resources are needed to reach your stated project goals. By having this collected in a single project management document, you can more successfully plan out how to execute your project plan.

People get overwhelmed by project management jargon when having to plan out a project, but the word “action” everyone can understand. The fundamentals to getting an action plan together for any project follow these four project planning basic steps:

1. Define Your Project Goals

There’s a difference between project goals and project objectives. Project goals refer to the high-level goals that the project will achieve. Those generally align with the strategic planning and business objectives of organizations.

2. Define Your Project Objectives

The project objectives are much more specific than the project goals. Project objectives refer to the deliverables and milestones that need to be completed to achieve your project goals.

3. Define Action Steps

The action steps are a group of related tasks or action items that must be executed to produce project deliverables.

4. Identify and Prioritize Action Items

Action items are small, individual tasks that make up the action steps that are outlined in your action plan. First, you need to identify task dependencies among them, and then assign those action items a priority level so that they’re executed sequentially.

5. Define Roles & Responsibilities

Now that you’ve divided the work required to accomplish your action plan, you’ll need to assign action items to your project team members and define their roles and responsibilities.

6. Allocate Resources

As with your project plan, your action plan has resource requirements. Having identified your action steps and action items will help you understand what resources are needed for each task and allocate them accordingly.

7. Set SMART Goals

Your action plan needs to be monitored and controlled to measure its performance. That’s why it’s important that you set SMART goals for your action items, action steps and your project objectives. SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

8. Set a Timeline for Your Action Plan

As a project manager, you’ll need to do your best to estimate how long it’ll take to complete your action items and action steps. Once you do so, you’ll have a timeline. You can use project management techniques like PERT charts or the critical path method to better estimate the duration of your project action plan.

9. Write an Action Plan Template

Create or use a simple action plan template to collect tasks, deadlines and assignments. This is the place where everything task-related goes in your project action plan, so you have a place for all this crucial information.

Writing an action plan template it’s a great idea because you’ll need to use that format throughout the project. That’s why we’ve created a free action plan template that you can download. There are also dozens of other free project management templates for Excel and Word that can help you with every phase of your project.

10. Use a Project Management Tool

Use a project management tool to keep you on task. ProjectManager has project planning features that help you monitor and report on project progress and performance. Get a high-level view of the action plan with our live dashboards. Unlike other tools, we don’t make you set up the dashboard.

Once you’ve mapped out your action plan, you can use project planning tools to zoom into all the details about your action steps and action items. With ProjectManager, you can calculate various metrics, such as project variance, workload and more. They’re displayed in easy-to-read charts and graphs. Share them with stakeholders to give them updates on action steps whenever they want.

ProjectManager's dashboard showing a marketing action plan

Tips to Write an Action Plan

Once you have an action plan, how do you work with it to run a successful project? Here are some tips to help with implementing your action plan:

  • Focus on priorities and what’s due now when identifying action steps and setting your action plan timeline
  • When you complete action steps, mark them off
  • Have your team members work on one project management platform
  • Set up alerts
  • Discuss pending or overdue tasks

Action Plan Example

We’ve been talking a lot about an action plan, but let’s take a look at one in-depth. Below, you’ll see our free action plan template . It’s set up for the development of a website.

It’s broken down into phases, the first being the project planning phase , which includes the action steps, market research and the design of the site. You’ll see that tasks are outlined for each action step, including a description of that task, who’s assigned to execute it, the priority and even the status of its completion.

This is followed by the third action step, which is the launch of the site. This is the execution phase of the action plan, but it follows the same format, such as noting the priority, who’s responsible for the work, what that work is and its status.

action plan steps and action items

There’s also a timeline to define the start dates of each of the tasks in the action steps, including the planned hours. This allows you to determine the length of each task and the duration of the entire action plan, from start to finish.

action plan timeline

Finally, there’s a place to add your resources. They’re broken down into departments, for example, marketing, web development, etc. Then the materials that are required for each task are listed, including their costs. This allows you to estimate the cost of the plan.

action plan resource

How to Make An Action Plan With ProjectManager

Follow along with this action plan example to see how action plans are typically laid out using project planning software .

1. Map Action Plan Steps Using Multiple Project Views

ProjectManager can help you build your action plan and then execute it. Collect all your action steps tasks on our list view, which does more than light-weight to-do list apps because it allows you to then map your action plan with Gantt charts , project calendars and kanban boards. These robust project management tools allow you to prioritize action items, customize tags and show the percentage complete for each task. Our online project management software gives you real-time data to help you create an action plan and stick to it.

ProjectManager's list view

2. Assign Action Items to Your Team Members

Once you’ve mapped out your action plan steps with ProjectManager’s project planning tools , you can assign tasks to your team members and indicate what resources are needed for the completion of each action item. Indicate their roles and responsibilities and set priority levels for each task to ensure the work is carried out properly.

3. Set Action Plan Steps and Deliverables

It’s important to note all the phases of the project timeline to know what action steps and tasks will take place and when. In addition, ProjectManager’s Gantt chart allows you to identify project phases, find the critical path, and set due dates for project milestones and deliverables

4. Track Progress With Real-Time Dashboards

Once you start the project, you’ll need to chart the progress of the work being done. This leads us to the real-time project dashboard , where you’ll check whether your action plan is on schedule and under budget.

Manage Your Project With an Action Plan

Getting a plan together is only the first part of managing a project . Remember, it’s not something to write and put away, but rather it’s a living document that should follow you throughout the project life cycle. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, offers more tips on how to write an action plan in the video below.

Here’s a screenshot for your reference:

project planning fundamentals

ProjectManager’s Action Planning Tools are Ideal for Managing Action Plans

If you’re looking to make an action plan and then take action on it by executing, monitoring and reporting on a project, then you’ll want ProjectManager. Our online project management software lets you make an action plan online with multiple project planning tools such as Gantt charts, task lists, kanban boards and project calendars. Then, you can use timesheets, project dashboards and resource management tools to keep track of progress, time and costs.

Plan & Schedule With Gantt Charts

ProjectManager’s Gantt chart is ideal to map out your action plan on an interactive project timeline that helps you organize your tasks, link dependencies and set milestones. More than that, you can filter for the critical path. When you’re done scheduling your action steps you can set a baseline. This allows you to always see the planned versus actual progress of your action plan to help you stay on track.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart is ideal to map out action plans

Manage Action Items with Kanban Boards, Task Lists and Project Calendars

Once you’ve used the Gantt chart to create a timeline for your action plan, you can zoom into the nitty-gritty details of everyday work with kanban boards , task lists and project calendars. With these tools, you can assign tasks and give teams a collaborative platform to comment and share relevant documents with unlimited file storage and real-time communication features.

ProjectManager's kanban board showing action steps from an action plan

Track Progress, Resources and Costs With Real-Time Action Plan Dashboards

ProjectManager’s real-time action plan dashboards sync with all its project management tools so you can check the status of your action plan at any time. You can check on your team members’ progress to see who’s over or underallocated, check labor costs and track whether your team is on schedule.

dashboard showing project metrics in real-time

ProjectManager gives you all the tools you need to create and implement a successful action plan. Regardless of the type of action plan that you need to create, our award-winning project management software makes it easy to do so. Get started with a free 30-day trial today. 

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

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What is an Action Plan? Learn with Templates and Examples

small business action plan example

Planning on turning your vision into reality? And what’s your best way to avoid challenges and problems during this journey? A solid action plan.

We have outlined 6 steps explaining how to write an action plan. Once you familiarize yourself with them, go ahead and use the editable templates below to start planning right away.

What is an Action Plan?

Why you need an action plan, how to write an action plan, action plan templates.

An action plan is a specific list of tasks in order to achieve a particular goal. It can be regarded as a proposed strategy to execute a specific project to achieve a specific or general goal effectively and efficiently. It outlines steps to take and helps stay focused and organized, whether it’s personal or work-related. Breaking down the goal into smaller, manageable steps, makes it easier to stay motivated and track progress.

It’s an essential part of the strategic planning process and helps with improving teamwork planning Not only in project management, but action plans can be used by individuals to prepare a strategy to achieve their own personal goals as well.

Components of an action plan include

  • A well-defined description of the goal to be achieved
  • Tasks/ steps that need to be carried out to reach the goal
  • People who will be in charge of carrying out each task
  • When will these tasks be completed (deadlines and milestones)
  • Resources needed to complete the tasks
  • Measures to evaluate progress

What’s great about having everything listed down on one location is that it makes it easier to track progress and effectively plan things out.

An action plan is not something set in stone. As your organization grows, and surrounding circumstances change, you will have to revisit and make adjustments to meet the latest needs.

Sometimes businesses don’t spend much time on developing an action plan before an initiative, which, in most cases, leads to failure. If you haven’t heard, “failing to plan is planning to fail” said Benjamin Franklin supposedly once.

Planning helps you prepare for the obstacles ahead and keep you on track. And with an effective action plan, you can boost your productivity and keep yourself focused.  

Here are some benefits of an action plan you should know;

  • It gives you a clear direction. As an action plan highlights exactly what steps to be taken and when they should be completed, you will know exactly what you need to do.
  • Having your goals written down and planned out in steps will give you a reason to stay motivated and committed throughout the project.  
  • With an action plan, you can track your progress toward your goal.
  • Since you are listing down all the steps you need to complete in your action plan, it will help you prioritize your tasks based on effort and impact.

From the looks of it, creating an action plan seems fairly easy. But there are several important steps you need to follow with caution in order to get the best out of it. Here’s how to write an action plan explained in 6 easy steps.

Step 1: Define your end goal

If you are not clear about what you want to do and what you want to achieve, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Planning a new initiative? Start by defining where you are and where you want to be.

Solving a problem? Analyze the situation and explore possible solutions before prioritizing them.

Then write down your goal. And before you move on to the next step, run your goal through the SMART criteria . Or in other words, make sure that it is

  • Specific – well-defined and clear
  • Measurable – include measurable indicators to track progress  
  • Attainable – realistic and achievable within the resources, time, money, experience, etc. you have
  • Relevant – align with your other goals
  • Timely – has a finishing date

Use this SMART goal worksheet to simplify this process. Share it with others to get their input as well.  

exit full-screen

And refer to our easy guide to the goal-setting process to learn more about setting and planning your goals.

Step 2: List down the steps to be followed

The goal is clear. What exactly should you do to realize it?

Create a rough template to list down all the tasks to be performed, due dates and people responsible.

It’s important that you make sure that the entire team is involved in this process and has access to the document. This way everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities in the project.

Make sure that each task is clearly defined and is attainable. If you come across larger and more complex tasks, break them down to smaller ones that are easier to execute and manage.

Tips: Use a RACI Matrix template to clarify project roles and responsibilities, and plan projects

Step 3: Prioritize tasks and add deadlines

It’s time to reorganize the list by prioritizing the tasks . Some steps, you may need to prioritize as they can be blocking other sub-steps.

Add deadlines, and make sure that they are realistic. Consult with the person responsible for carrying it out to understand his or her capacity before deciding on deadlines.

Step 4: Set milestones

Milestones can be considered mini goals leading up to the main goal at the end. The advantage of adding milestones is that they give the team members to look forward to something and help them stay motivated even though the final due date is far away.

Start from the end goal and work your way back as you set milestones . Remember not to keep too little or too much time in between the milestone you set. It’s a best practice to space milestones two weeks apart.  

Step 5: Identify the resources needed

Before you start your project, it’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary resources at hand to complete the tasks. And if they are not currently available, you need to first make a plan to acquire them.

This should also include your budget. You can assign a column of your action plan to mark the cost of each task if there are any.  

Step 6: Visualize your action plan

The point of this step is to create something that everyone can understand at a glance and that can be shared with everyone.

Whether your action plan comes in the shape of a flowchart , Gantt chart , or table , make sure that it clearly communicates the elements we have identified so far – tasks, task owners, deadlines, resources, etc.

This document should be easily accessible to everyone and should be editable.

Step 7: Monitor, evaluate and update

Allocate some time to evaluate the progress you’ve made with your team.

You can mark tasks that are completed as done on this final action plan, bringing attention to how you’ve progressed toward the goal.

This will also bring out the tasks that are pending or delayed, in which case you need to figure out why and find suitable solutions. And then update the action plan accordingly.

Business action plan

You may like to read: The Easy Guide to Making a Business Plan for Presentations

Marketing action plan

Strategic action plan, corrective action plan template.

Learn more about: Corrective Action Plan template .

Additional resources: The Easy Guide to Creating a Business Contingency Plan

Simple action plan template

Any more tips on creating an action plan.

An action plan is designed to guide your way to accomplishing your goals. It turns your vision into actionable goals and steps. And it helps you stay focused and motivated.

From an individual employee in an organization to larger departments can make use of action plans to steer their way towards completing their goals.

Maybe you are about to create your very first action plan, or you are already a pro at writing them. Either way, we’d like to hear your opinions on how to write an action plan. Do share them with us in the comments section below.

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FAQs About Action Plan

Lack of clarity on goals: Make sure the team understands the goals and objectives of the action plan. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Unclear responsibilities: Assign clear roles and responsibilities for each team member to avoid confusion and ensure accountability.

Overcomplicating the plan: Keep the action plan simple and easy to understand. Avoid adding unnecessary complexity or detail that may confuse the team.

Failure to prioritize tasks: Prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. This will ensure that the team focuses on the most critical tasks first.

Inadequate resources: Ensure that the team has access to the necessary resources such as time, budget, and equipment, to carry out the action plan successfully.

Lack of communication: Effective communication is crucial to the success of any action plan. Ensure that team members are regularly updated on progress and any changes to the plan.

Failure to monitor progress: Regularly monitor progress and adjust the action plan as needed to ensure that it stays on track and achieves its goals.

Strategic action plan: This type of plan outlines the long-term goals and objectives of an organization, and the actions that will be taken to achieve them. It typically covers a period of several years and includes high-level strategies and initiatives.

Operational action plan: This plan focuses on the day-to-day operations of an organization, outlining the actions that will be taken to achieve short-term goals and objectives. It typically covers a period of one year or less and includes specific actions and timelines.

Project action plan: This type of plan is used for individual projects and outlines the actions that will be taken to achieve specific project goals and objectives. It includes a detailed breakdown of tasks, timelines, and responsibilities.

Sales action plan: This plan focuses on the actions that will be taken to increase sales and revenue. It includes specific strategies for marketing, sales, and customer service.

Marketing action plan: This plan outlines the actions that will be taken to promote a product or service and increase brand awareness. It includes strategies for advertising, social media, public relations, and other marketing initiatives.

Crisis management action plan: This type of plan outlines the actions that will be taken in the event of a crisis, such as a natural disaster or security breach. It includes specific protocols for communication, evacuation, and other emergency procedures.

An action plan can be used by anyone who wants to achieve specific goals or objectives. It is a useful tool for individuals, teams, and organizations in a variety of contexts. Here are some examples:

Individuals: An individual can use an action plan to achieve personal goals such as losing weight, completing a degree, or starting a business.

Teams: A team can use an action plan to achieve goals related to a specific project or initiative. For example, a marketing team may use an action plan to launch a new product.

Small businesses: Small businesses can use an action plan to achieve goals related to sales, marketing, operations, or finance.

Non-profit organizations: Non-profit organizations can use an action plan to achieve goals related to fundraising, volunteer recruitment, or program implementation.

Government agencies: Government agencies can use an action plan to achieve goals related to policy implementation, disaster response, or public safety.

Educational institutions: Educational institutions can use an action plan to achieve goals related to improving student outcomes, increasing enrollment, or expanding programs.

More Related Articles

Improve Productivity and Efficiency With Action Items

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

Top 5 action plan templates for small businesses – with examples

Helena Young

Our Research

Written and reviewed by:.

Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers.

An action plan is a checklist of every task needed to achieve a larger business goal, and it can help you turn your top-level strategic planning into a day-to-day reality. Action plan templates are pre-built task lists that come ready-made for short, time-bound project management, helping businesses to avoid long and convoluted workflows.

Most project management (PM) systems include an action plan template as they are popular among business owners. However, some systems lack key features, like the ability to assign tasks. Not having these useful tools can delay your action plan and can end up costing time and money – not something SMEs need in the current economy.

  • template – for client service teams receiving regular feedback
  • ClickUp Free template – for freelancers working on a daily task list
  • Smartsheet template – for complex action plans with multiple stakeholders
  • Wrike Free template – for working with subcontractors outside the business
  • Asana template – for developing a short, sprint-based action plan

Alongside an independent analyst, our experts have pinpointed a range of outstanding action plan templates that will achieve a positive outcome by ensuring you meet every task on time, and to budget.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the unique features of each option as well as where they perform best (and what they might be lacking) so you can find the template that best matches your objectives.

This article will cover:

What is an action plan template, best action plan templates, how to build an action plan.

  • Our research methodology
  • Action plan template FAQs

An action plan is a document that lists the tasks and milestones required to reach a decided outcome, in order of when they must be completed. It is one of the most basic project management methods , and is designed to breakdown your plan into the simplest sequence of steps.

Some people choose to build their action plan on basic, web-based programmes, like Google Sheets. But this can take a lot of time to set up and require a lot of complex workarounds. Having a pre-built action plan template with project management software can get you started instantly and give you access to clever, time-saving features.

Rather than planning a new campaign with multiple outcomes and deliverables, most action plans are kept to a minimum, and designed with a specific goal in mind. For example, the desire to increase traffic to your website in a set amount of time.

The most common aspects of an action plan are:

  • Tasks (description of what needs to be done)
  • Deadlines (when it is due)
  • Owners (who is responsible for the task’s completion)
  • Milestones (what specific targets you need to hit to complete the task)
  • Resources (the budget or external/internal consultants needed to complete the task)

As the name suggests, action plans are all about efficient decision making, allowing you to dive into a project as quickly as possible. Below, we’ve identified the top template choices from leading work operating systems (Work OS), including and ClickUp .

All of our top picks are based on important factors chosen during extensive user testing, such as ease-of-use, data visualisation, and collaboration features. for teams receiving regular client feedback (agencies)

Available with: free plan. action template is our top-scoring Work OS for data visualisation ( 5 out of 5 ), beating rival software Smartsheet by a whole point. As the above example shows,’s modern-looking template is endlessly customisable, which allows you to monitor every aspect of your project.

During our testing, we found there was space to note tonnes of metrics, including the owner of a task , the due date , and even priority level . Plus, a progress tracker helps managers check pace in case a team member needs to push the pedal down to meet a milestone.

Because of its flexibility, we recommend’s action plan template for projects that are subject to sudden changes. For example, design agencies working to deadline constraints with clients who want regular feedback on how a task is going.

You can use monday’s customisable features to easily make edits. Our research team was also impressed by the app’s simple, traffic-light organisational system during testing, which means you won’t have to sacrifice clarity to review progress. pros and cons

  • Assigned team members will be instantly notified - minimising time spent in meetings.
  • is third in our research for usability, as templates are quick to set up
  • Managers can easily set up an automated reminder if tasks are missed or delayed
  • User permissions only available on premium plans - so managers have less control over changes
  • No task dependencies means you’ll find it harder to prioritise tasks


Get started with the action plan template

ClickUp for freelancers needing a daily task list

ClickUp action template

ClickUp’s action plan is as clearly organised and colour-coded, as with However, the former’s list-based layout is suited to individual task management when compared with’s collaborative focus.

Your action plan might be something as simple as reaching a certain objective by the end of the day. ClickUp’s time-tracking – unavailable on's free plan – allows you to maximise your resources and take on as many gigs as possible while still being able to prioritise deadlines.

The ClickUp action plan template has less space to record metrics. But during our testing, we found the workflow was easier to understand as the items are numbered in the order they need to be delivered in.

We also like that by using ClickUp's multiple dashboard views , users can see their tasks in different formats – handy for individual users who have complete control of their day-to-day actions. With ClickUp, you can easily switch formats to flit between table, board, and box view, while this is a bit trickier with

What is most exciting is that ClickUp is free forever , making it the best free project management software option for SMEs. In comparison, you’d have to upgrade, Wrike, Smartsheet, and Asana if you want to use them as your long-term PM solution.

ClickUp pros and cons

  • 24/7 live support and live chat available to help new users during onboarding
  • Communication integrations including Slack and Microsoft Teams
  • Automations are available on the free plan to take care of fiddly admin tasks
  • Our researchers gave ClickUp just 3 out of 5 for collaboration - it’s better for solo workers
  • Feature limitations on the free plan include building only 100 Gantt charts per month


Get started with the ClickUp action plan template

Smartsheet for multiple stakeholders who need constant updates

Available with: free trial.

Smartsheet action template

The Smartsheet template (Click to Try) is not as aesthetically pleasing as those offered by ClickUp or Consequently, we’re not big fans of the platform for user experience.

However, Smartsheet is outstanding when it comes to recording data. The platform’s lowest tier offers a larger number of alternative views for you to analyse a plan through. That’s more than Wrike,, and Asana. ClickUp does offer the same number of views, but there are constraints on how many times you can use them.

Users can display their action plan as a:

  • Gantt chart
  • Kanban board
  • Spreadsheet
  • Burndown chart

From our research, this is helpful for business owners who are working on longer projects that have large involvement, such as charity fundraising.

Make stakeholders' lives easier by sorting your achievements and objectives into various formats. Smartsheet highlights everything from individual progress to your team's overall ability to meet deadlines. This makes it easy to measure and share project metrics .

Smartsheet pros and cons

  • Finance integration means you can closely manage your project budget
  • Calendar view lets you see deadlines in weekly or monthly increments
  • Members can be assigned to subtasks in case a job proves more complicated down the line
  • Smartsheet came seventh overall in our ranking for help and support tools
  • No free plan available - you’ll need to download the action plan template as part of a 14-day free trial

Smartsheet logo

Get started with the Smartsheet action plan template

Wrike for managing subcontractors (like construction firms)

Wrike action plan

Wrike doesn’t score as highly when it comes to the advanced areas of project management. When compared with ClickUp, its feature range is thin, while the internal collaboration tools are lacking when compared with

However, our experts found the Wrike action plan template is a practical, low-maintenance option for storing files and providing guest access for free . Tasks can be viewed by anyone with access to the project. All of the other platforms on this list require you to pay for the luxury.

If you’re working on a project with external collaborators, Wrike is a good option. You can allocate tasks to team members who aren’t based in your business and they can also move items around. This USP is great for projects with multiple subcontractors, such as a small-scale construction job.

You might not want to share Wrike’s dashboards with your employers as our testing found that it's not a very attractive template to view. Projects with lots of subcontractors involved, such as construction, will reap the most benefits from its offering.

Wrike pros and cons

  • Unlimited users and guests are permitted on the Wrike free plan
  • Project message board and task comments make it simple for team members to update each other
  • Poor for data visualisation - only list view is permitted on the free plan
  • Wrike is our lowest-performing platform for help and support, scoring just 1.8 out of 5 - not great for new users.

wrike logo

Get started with the Wrike action plan template

Asana for short, sprint-based projects (best for developers)

Asana action plan

We recommend Asana for action planning thanks to its drag-and-drop dependency feature, which we found incredibly simple for reallocating tasks to new team members.

If you've got lots of people collaborating on one project, Asana allows you to make changes to your plan that will reflect a team member's new responsibilities or objectives. But don't worry, this won't cause confusion. Notifications will automatically be sent to update all team members if a change is made.

If you want to ensure that one task is completed before another can start, you only need to drag a line between each task on the ‘ timeline ‘ view (available with Asana’s lowest paid-for tier).

There are some key tools missing from this template that might make it difficult to review progress against a deadline. Unlike ClickUp and, there is no time tracking function to measure progress. As a result, we recommend Asana’s action plan template for short, sprint-based projects.

Asana pros and cons

  • Over 200 integrations including CRM, marketing, and communication
  • We gave Asana 4.1 out of 5 for its fair pricing and scalable plans, placing it third in our rankings
  • No guest access permitted on Asana’s free plan
  • No time-tracking feature so you won’t be able to monitor how long employees spend on a task

To help you understand what an action plan should look like in practice, we've come up with the below template example. In this scenario, a pub – The Startups Inn – wants to find a way to draw in more customers during the holiday period. The pub manager decides to design an action plan to help achieve that goal.

Problem:  The Startups Inn is losing customers during the holiday period, as competitor analysis has shown that customers are visiting pub businesses that offer enticing Christmas-themed deals and offers on drinks.

Goal: We will increase our average sales per week by 150%, by launching a new festive beer brand in the month of December. We will advertise a weekly 50% discount on Monday evenings on social media to support the launch.

Step 1. Set a SMART target

You should have a specific end goal in mind rather than a broad idea. In this case, the pub manager of The Startups Inn decides to sell a popular new beer brand in the pub that will excite its loyal customers and generate new clients for the business.

To keep the goal on track, make sure it is SMART :

  • S pecific: clearly define what success looks like (instead of ‘increase sales', state a % increase to aim for)
  • M easurable: outline how you will measure success (ie. monthly or weekly reports)
  • A chievable: make sure the goal is attainable, not overly-ambitious
  • R ealistic: make sure the goal is relevant to your objectives, industry, and skillset
  • T ime-bound: set a specific deadline for reaching the goal

ClickUp invites users to set an overall goal for every plan, which you can use to track progress and view all related project information. Here's what that looks like for our hypothetical festive beer launch:

ClickUp goals - beer launch

We were able to create a SMART target for our project in the ‘Goals' section of the ClickUp back-end

Step 2. Write a chronological list of tasks you need to complete to reach this objective

This should be done as a brainstorming session by the project manager, or the entire project team. Here's an example of what kind of tasks we might need to include in a marketing plan template for our beer launch:

1. Place order for beer 2. Collect beer order 3. Market beer on online channels 4. ‘Soft launch' with customers 5. Official beer launch

small business action plan example

During testing, we particularly liked that we were able to add task dependencies to our list of actions, to make it clear when one task (placing the intitial beer order) was critical to the completion of another task.

Step 3. Allocate a team member to be responsible for each task

ClickUp makes this super easy by allowing users to add ‘Assignees' to every task. When we clicked on the profile on an assignee, we were shown the number of tasks they had been given – helpful for resource management and getting a quick overview of all tasks a team member is responsible for.

1. Place order for beer –   assistant manager, Kevin 4. Collect beer order – assistant manager, Kevin 3. Market beer on online channels – marketing manager, Harry 4. ‘Soft launch' with customers – bar manager, Helena 5. Sales reporting –   bar manager, Helena

ClickUp Assignees - beer launch

Assignees were very easy to add to the ClickUp action list – we simply inputted a colleague's email, and were instantly able to allocate them to a task.

Step 4. Set a timeframe for each objective

Decide on the final due date for the entire project. In this example, the launch date for our new beer product might be 4 December.

Work backwards from this milestone to give each task a due date. Eg. to launch a beer on 4 December, The Startups Inn needs to order the beer two weeks before (November 20). As the template above shows, ClickUp lets you add a due date to each task as a preset field.

Step 5. Share the action plan template with the team

Once each task has been allocated, it's time to share the plan with the rest of your team so they can begin working on their specific duties and communicate if there are any issues with the timeline. Make sure you go through each task with the employee so they know exactly what they are responsible for.

Benefits of an action plan template

Action plan templates are a manager’s cheat sheet to success. Using a preset template to reach your goal will speed up the planning process dramatically, providing a clear update for the entire team to quickly get up-to-speed on task progress.

Here are three more areas of project management that using an action plan template is beneficial for:

  • Measuring progress. An action plan template will be able to give you a complete picture of where you are up to in a project, as you'll know exactly how many items you've ticked off in your checklist.
  • Prioritisation . Action plans make it instantly obvious where a task needs to be completed. If lots of tasks are dependent on just one being completed, you’ll know to give this step critical attention.
  • Focus. It's very difficult to lose direction with an action plan. Following the list of actions like a step-by-step guide will help your project team to remain focused and help to limit delays.

How we test project management software for small businesses

We tested 14 project management software to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, customer support, features, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to small UK-based businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in five main categories of investigation and nine subcategories – in fact, we covered 51 areas of investigation in total . We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs of our readers.

Our main testing categories for project management software are:

Customer Score: external customer opinion; the feedback and ratings given by customers who have used a particular project management provider. Also, the market position and reputation a project management tool holds.

Features: the functionalities and capabilities offered by the project management solution, such as task management and team collaboration.

Customer Support: the assistance and resources provided by the project management solution provider to users, such as phone support and email or chat support.

Usability Testing: we get people just like you to test out the products to focus on evaluating the ease of use and user experience of the project management solution.

Cost Factors: the financial considerations associated with using a project management solution, including licensing fees, subscription plans, and storage and user limit.

The Startups product testing process

The Startups product testing process diagram

  • For flexibility , we recommend . Its action plans may require edits down the line, but promises a smooth transition should anything change.
  • For freelance work , ClickUp is a full-featured choice for maximising your resources during short, day-long projects.
  • For projects with lots of stakeholders we recommend Smartsheet . You can easily review progress to give updates to stakeholders using its impressive reporting tools.
  • For subcontract work, we recommend Wrike . It’s the only app with an unlimited number of guest users, making it ideal for B2B collaboration.
  • For collaboration, we recommend Asana for its drag-and-drop template style that makes it easy to swap a project member's responsibilities around if needed.
  • How do I write an action plan? First, decide on the goal you want to achieve. Then, create a chronological list of all the tasks needed to reach that goal. Divide the tasks between each team member (as appropriate), and set timeframes that work with your overall deadline. Finally, share the action plan with any collaborators.
  • Does Excel have an action plan template? Yes, however it lacks a lot of collaborative tools, such as whiteboards and message boards. These are two important features when building an action plan. Excel's action plan template tends to be used for projects that have a very short turnaround time and require a lot of communication and real-time updates.
  • What must a good action plan include? An action plan should display a list of tasks that need to be completed for an objective to be reached. Each of these should have a dedicated owner and a deadline. It's also a good idea to include a list of the resources (budget/employees) on hand, this will allow you to adjust the plan should anything change.
  • What are the 5 areas of an action plan? First; set a clear objective. Second; list all the tasks required on an action plan template. Third; allocate a team member to each task. Fourth, set a timeframe for each task and the entire objective. Fifth; share the template with your team and update them on their responsibilities.
  • What are the main objectives of an action plan? Action plans are used for short, time-bound projects. They require users to list the tasks required to complete an objective, so you can formulate a timeline based on what's being done and what resources will be utilised. is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.

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