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Big Plans But No Follow Through? 4 Steps to Get More Done

Entrepreneurs often have big ideas, but implementing the plans can easily get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of running a business.

Execution is one of the biggest issues for small-business owners, says Scott Regan, founder and CEO of the strategic-planning software company AchieveIt. "Studies show that anywhere between 80 and 90 percent of plans never get implemented," he says. "That means most organizations are underperforming."

Instead, Regan says small-business owners can create a culture of execution throughout their organization by involving their entire team. Here are his four steps for moving your plans -- and your business -- forward:

1. Share your mission, vision and strategy.
Entrepreneurs should have a clearly defined mission -- a one-, three- or five-year vision, and a strategy for getting there.

"Too often only upper management is aware of the company's mission, vision and strategy," says Regan. Instead, this information should be shared with the entire staff, and every employee should know how he or she fits in.

Regan suggests having employees complete personalized mission, vision, strategy statements, using the following phrase: I will help my company fulfill its mission, achieve its vision, and execute its strategy by doing ____________________ every day as part of my job.

Put the completed statements in the employee's personnel file and use it as part of your performance management and evaluation process.

2. Communicate your strategy regularly.
Small-business owners should communicate the company strategy often. Regan suggests using the 7×7 method, communicating the idea seven times in seven different ways to help them remember. For example, if your company strategy is to increase sales by suggesting complementary products or services, remind your employees in seven different ways: In person, through your employee newsletter, via a company-wide email blast, on a break room poster, through a voicemail blast, on a computer screen saver and as part of an employee quiz.

"The more your employees know about your strategy, the more they will be able to make effective job-related decisions that can positively impact your company," he says.

Related: How to Inspire a Culture of Innovation

3. Reward employees.
An employee who successfully implements company strategy into his or her everyday job should be recognized. At Regan's company, staff members are rewarded in various ways.

"We have a Cannonball Award that goes to somebody who took a big risk and hit a home run," says Regan. He also offers days off, parties and monetary rewards, but he says to not underestimate the power of simple recognition.

"Employees want to know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated," he says. "Acknowledgement can go a long way."

4. Post scorecards.
Visual indicators of where a company is in relation to its vision can be motivating, says Regan. By monitoring performance and posting it for all to see, entrepreneurs help create a culture of execution.

"Pictures are powerful," says Regan, who suggests using graphics to illustrate targets, such as revenue, sales or customer satisfaction metrics. This information can be printed and posted where employees will see it, or shared through strategic-planning software, such as AchieveIt or My Strategic Plan.

"When everyone has access to this information, they can modify their own performance accordingly," says Regan. "Often people will figure out what they need to do before management has to figure it out for them."

Related: Disrupt Your Thinking, Transform Your Business
 

Stephanie Vozza is a freelance writer who has written about business, real estate and lifestyle for more than 20 years.

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