Developing an Operational Plan for Your Small Business

Anderson Ozakpo
4 Steps to Turning Business Problems to Solutions, Operational Plan, Management strategy, Set milestones, Performance measurement, Developing Operation Plan for Small Businesses

It is almost impossible to reach your goals without a plan. This also applies to small businesses, which is why operational planning is a popular management activity among the most successful businesses. Operational plans help business owners and managers on how to improve their business.

In Summary: Operational planning is all about developing a specific step by step process on how the business will function and detail the processes of that function. You can scale new and unbelievable heights when you develop a balanced plan and always aim to improve and reevaluate your plans. There are numerous benefits of developing an operational plan which is not limited to the following: having a roadmap, tasks management, performance management to mention a few.

Recommended Post: Startup Checklist for Growing Entrepreneurs

Although there is no perfect standard template for businesses, we will consider the main modules recurrent in most functional operational plans.

Performance Measurement

If success cannot be measured, then a plan is as good as no plan. Set goals and ask yourself, “How will I know that I have achieved this goal?”. The answer to that question is what forms your performance metric and every performance metric must have a realistic deadline so that your progress and eventual success can be measured. Once your performance metrics are quantifiable and attainable, when they are reached, then your plan is successful.

Key Point: Performance measurement are the things you plan to achieve which must be quantifiable, and attainable, time-bound. For example, you can plan to reduce attrition rate by 30% in the next 24months or increase sales revenue by 15% in 3 years.

Set Milestones

Milestones are the individual tasks and mini-goals you must reach in order to achieve the overall priority goals—these milestones, as in performance measurement, must be bound by time and they must be realistic.

Key Point: These actions must lead to an expected result, such as training your sales team on converting potential leads to sales in order to increase sales revenue by 5% in the next 1 year. Which is only a part of the overall goal of increasing sales revenue by 15% in 3 years.

4 Steps to Turning Business Problems to Solutions, Operational Plan, Management strategy, Set milestones, Performance measurement, Developing Operation Plan for Small Businesses

Management Strategy

Management strategy usually falls into people-focused strategy or processed-focused strategies. Most organizations, however, keep both strategies but on the overall, the scale is usually skewed. People-focused management strategy is aimed at getting and keeping the right hands who should eventually get the process right while process-focused management strategy drives at getting and retaining the right strategy which will determine the right people.

Key Point: You must choose to either focus on processes or people with the overall objective to increase performance using one or more of both strategies.

Recommended Post: Business Model Innovation: Change the Model, not the Business

Share Your Strategy

As a Business Director or owner, you must communicate your plan to your superiors (the board) and underlings (your employees). When communicating with your superiors, be prepared to defend your strategy and reasoning so as to get their approval on the final plan before sharing it with your subordinates. Your subordinates must understand your plans and the reasons behind your plans—until they can own the plans and defend them like you, implementation will be almost impossible.

Key Point: Your plans must be specific and clear enough to understand—they must be understood and accepted by both superiors and subordinates.

Recommended Post: 4 Steps for Turning Business Problems into Solutions

Conclusion: As much as it is very important for small business owners to develop a business plan for their venture, an operational plan is just also key to driving a small business to success. Without a roadmap or model for conducting your business, your business will be spinning on the edge of a cliff. Make sure you take out time to develop an operational roadmap, else your business will either be heading towards the wrong direction or clueless on where to go.


If you’d like to get featured on our Entrepreneur Spotlight, click here to share your startup story with us.


Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!


Related Posts

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!