One Person Business Plan: Turning goals into plans

This third step for the one person business plan will turn your goals into actionable plans.

You can’t have a One Person Business Plan without an actual plan.

Having an idea is great. Being motivated to experience a reality sometime in the near future is important. Having goals is essential. Having a plan is what pulls that goal from the future into the present.

I’ve seen more than one beautiful strategic plan forgotten on a shelf left to gather dust. Don’t let that happen to yours. Your work is important.

How to turn goals into plans.

The trick to turning your list of goals into actionable plans includes answering two powerful questions:

  • What will you do?
  • When will you do it?

In all honesty, the first question is actually repeated. It’s more like:

  • What will you do? (The answer represents your list of goals)
  • When will you do it? (In what order or at what time in the year)
  • What will you do? (The answer represents the actual steps of each goal’s action plan)

Another simple yet not easy approach. Ready?


1. Sort Projects from Tasks.

Each goal on your list will be either a project or a task.

A project has a clear beginning and end. Examples: Complete Courses for Professional Continuing Education Credits; Write a white paper with my current research; or Select and install financial software solution.

A task is either a one time smaller event or ongoing tasks with an associated frequency. Examples: write a weekly blog post (task with frequency); renew business license (one time event); go to the gym three times each week.

If you don’t have clarity on whether your goal is a project or a task, you need to revisit the SMART goal recommendations.

2. Sort Connected from Stand-alone goals.

Your list of goals focuses on all domains of your life professional and personal. Some goals will be related or interdependent, others will stand on their own.

Connected goals have dependencies. For example you may first want develop your brand strategy before you design your website.

If you don’t know what goals may be related, that’s ok. As a one person business, you’ll be able to adjust your priorities more easily than a larger company.

3. Plot Your Goals

With this new awareness of dependencies as well as goals sorted by project or tasks, it’s time to place them on the year-view of your calendar.

Yes, I’m aware there will be educated guesses in this step. It’s also an opportunity for another reality check as you place the desired completion date for each goal on your calendar.

Ideally, your goals will be spread across the year to align with business and personal cycles. Example: avoid scheduling implementation of your new financial system during tax season; and be mindful of family holiday or vacation time as you stack professional and personal goals.

If all goals have a completion date of December 31st, now’s the time to make an adjustment to set yourself up for success. Either break down each goal into smaller goals (monthly or quarterly) or spread your goals more evenly across the year.


Once you know when, it’s time to identify what you’ll do.

Near Term Planning

This is called near-term planning for a reason. The challenge: plan only the next month or quarter’s projects and tasks. This leaves room for course corrections throughout the year and avoids over-planning (a form of procrastination.)

Near Term Project Planning
For each near-term project, I recommend the Everyday Project Success approach.

  1. Write out your Goal statement. This should simply be a copy of your SMART goal. It answers the question: what does DONE look like?
  2. Identify the big chunks. What is it that you need to consider, do, have – to complete your goal? Brainstorm all the things that you might need in order to achieve your goal. This is a great time to engage collaborators and trusted advisors. Tap into their ideas and experiences with similar projects. Use a brainstorming list, a mind map, free writing – what ever tool works best for you.
  3. Create order from chaos. If you’re not sure about what has to go exactly where, don’t worry. I suggest you go with your gut. Tackle some of the bigger parts first. The outcome of this step is to understand any dependencies and the natural order of things in your project. These become your major milestones.
  4. Create the project calendar. You’ll have an idea of how much time each step will take (or make an educated guess). Block time on your calendar now to allocate to this project.
  5. Take action immediately. What’s the very next thing you can do to get this project started? Select one thing that will take less than 30 minutes and do it now!

Near Term Task Planning

Creating action plans for tasks are a bit different. Since tasks can be one time events or ongoing activities, we’ll look at them seperately.

One time tasks are usually events that are too small to be projects. As the task becomes due, a shortened approach can be used to creat an action plan for the task:

  1. Identify the time, knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to complete the task.
  2. Schedule task on your calendar or…just do it.

Ongoing tasks are usually related to goals that do not have an end date such as reaching consistent sales numbers each month, or changing behaviors such as being more fit or more confident as a public speaker. For these the following will identify your action plan:

  1. Identify the behavior that will lead to the desired result
  2. Identify the frequency of the behavior and schedule it in your calendar
  3. Create a dashboard or log to provide feedback throughout the month

Do these approaches seem oversimplified? True, each phase of the approach to turn your aspirations into reality have been simplified in these posts.

My objective is to get you started. You and I both know we need an actionable plan – no matter how complex or simple – as long as it works. The next step is a big leap to realizing your aspirations.

What’s next? We’ll turn these plans into action!