Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How To Achieve More Than Ever Before....

Very early in the world of an entrepreneur, a light bulb goes off, or more like a firecracker where the new business owner says to themselves.....

There's Way Too Much To Do & 
Not Enough Time To Do It!

How do you do it?  I'm often asked?  How do you build a business, while keeping your job, keeping your family intact, and your your sanity?   

Here's an adage my mentor and coach shared with me early on.   There's always enough time to do the important things - in fact there is an abundance of time available.

How is this possible?  I feel like I'm running from one thing to another, spinning my tires along the way.   How can I accomplish more when it doesn't seem like I have any time right now to accomplish the things I've already committed to?    How can I accomplish the important things?   How can I fit this all in when I don't even have time to read this email or blog post right now?

Introduce the solution:  The Critical Action Plan.    

You may have heard about The Critical Action Plan.  My good friend and coach Mary Beltrami probably introduced you to The Critical Action Plan, but are you using it?    If you've not heard of it, let this be a short introduction to you and a challenge to everyone.   If you're not achieving the results you hope and desire, look to the fundamentals.   Success leaves clues.  Look at the clues of your business and your life.   The most successful entrepreneurs have a Critical Action Plan and are using it on a weekly basis.   Are you?   Have you created yours?    Why not?   Are you afraid it will work too well for you?   Are you afraid it's a waste of time?   Let me tell you - if you have not created a Critical Action Plan for yourself and working off of it on a weekly basis, you are certainly wasting time... guaranteed.  

What Is a Critical Action Plan?

Simply put a Critical Action Plan is a series of events that you must accomplish to achieve some end result.   This is not a to-do list, but more of an action list.  It's a list of things that must get accomplished - yes - but more than that it includes a verb to get you into action.   In addition, there are key elements to any Critical Action Plan.

Let's break this down a little bit.   First of all, it starts with a goal.   Everything starts with a goal.   When you get into your car or truck, you always have a destination in mind.   I'm going to the "post office" for instance.  That's the goal.   Then analyzing every step toward that goal would be an example of a Critical Action Plan.    

Thinking about the critical path for achievement, we reference the Critical Path model.   With the goal in mind (remember, the goal comes first), create a list of all the activities required to achieve the goal.  Then, consider the time duration that each activity will take to complete.   The evaluation of the critical path will then give you a rough idea of how long it will take to achieve the goal. 

For each activity, think of the steps involved - not the outcome.   This is the major deviation from a traditional to-do list.   The to-do list oftentimes lists goals or achievements or outcomes.    Although it is important to keep outcomes in mind, they are not action plans.   

The process of "chunking up the elephant" is also important when creating the Critical Action Plan.   Getting in the habit of breaking large tasks into smaller bit size events is a best practice for getting things done.     

How Do I Create a Critical Action Plan? 

Step 1:  Beginning with the goal.   Let's assume your goal is to close your next deal.   
Step 2:  Start Chunking up the Elephant!   If your goal is to close your next deal, what steps do you need in place to make that happen?   

Obviously you need to be looking at deals!   How many deals will you need to look at to close one?    Maybe 10 or 12 or 15?     So put that down as the next action step.   "Look at 15 deals".   We also need a timeframe around that.   This could be easily done in a 3-week timeframe if you had a consistent flow of deals to look at. However, if you're lacking in that area, how can we shore that up?   

How can we get a consistant deal flow coming in?    More chunking up the elephant.... How many deals can you expect from one deal source or another?   And, how do you put in to place all of these varied deal sources???? and how long does that take?   

Going back to the original goal of getting your next deal within 3 weeks may not be realistic due to critical downstream objectives.   This may now take you another 3 weeks to cultivate enough relationships to get your deal flow to 5 deals a week.  

So, we set another goal.   How many deal sources would you need to get to a consistent 5 deals a week?   Ten?   How do you know for sure?   This is where you can get feedback from a trusted advisor or a coach.     Someone who has visibility into your future path and who can advise you on the best course of action.   

Let's assume for a second the answer is ten.   Ten deal sources which could be from a variety of differing types of source.    So this is now a new goal.  Get Ten Deal Sources.    How do we accomplish this?    More chunking up the elephant.     Often times, then we can go back to a list of best practices or instructions to the business model to achieve these goals.  

However, it then needs to become a list of action plans, not a to-do list.   For example, let's assume, based on our research, we want to find an experience real estate investor who's buying and selling at least 10 houses per year.    There are several - several ways to find this person.    There are at least 4 that come to mind immediately and another 2 just as I've written this sentence.    Let's take the obvious, most basic idea and that is going to the REIA to look for this investor.   

Don't forget the goal.   Get a Deal Source.  Now, we ask ourselves, what is the critical list of actions to get to this goal?    We make a list, and put a timeline and deadline around each one. The more we chunk it up, the more actionable it becomes.    The goal in itself is not actionable.   Keep asking yourself, what do I need to do to accomplish this goal?    

Well, at the basic level, you need to meet several investors.   It's not reasonable to assume that the first investor you meet will become a deal source for you; therefore, set another goal to meet a # of deal sources.  How many?   Ask your coach.   Usually, somewhere between 10-20 investors will produce a deal source.    Ah, are you getting it?   Meet 15 Investors.  That should then be your next action item in order to achieve this Get a Deal Source goal. do we Meet 15 Investors?   We've already decided going to the REIA is going to be our approach.  However, is Going to a REIA  something that is actionable?  In other words, can you go and take action on that?   Most likely not.  Finding out what time and the location the REIA meets and then booking it is a list of critical action steps. Thus becomes our next 3 action items for our Critical Action Plan.
Find a local REIA
Find the Next Meeting Time and Location
Schedule REIA Meeting into Calendar 

Deadlines are also an important component to the Critical Action Plan.   Assigning a deadline then scheduling these action items will help you accomplish those action items on time. 

How Do I a Use Critical Action Plan?  

Unfortunately, this is where most investors drop the ball.  They know about the Critical Action Plan, but fail to implement it properly.   The Critical Action Plan needs to become your working tool that guides your actions and plans for the week.  You should be referencing it on a weekly basis, delegation from the Critical Action Plan, keeping track of updates on your Critical Action Plan, and adding new projects and initiatives from within the Critical Action Plan as they come up.    A sophisticated project management software tool can also help; however, I've seen very useful Critical Action Plans kept on a notebook.     The key is to use it daily or weekly, identifying all the events that need to take place in order to achieve your goal.   Working with an accountability partner can help you stay consistent and will help you achieve more.    At the very least, you should be reviewing your Critical Action Plan weekly.     As you approach goal achievement, setting new goals and objectives then becomes your task as you maintain momentum.    Use the Critical Action Plan as a tool for direction and organization.   

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