What is a 30-60-90 day business plan and how do I create one?

Small Business Basics

What is a 30-60-90 day business plan and how do I create one?

First time creating a 30-60-90 day business plan? Not to worry! While it's fairly common in many fields, it's underused in others.

July 01 · 7 min read

First time creating a 30-60-90 day business plan? Not to worry! While it’s fairly common in many fields, it’s underused in others. Here’s what you need to know about these plans and how to create your own.

What is a 30-60-90 day plan?

A 30-60-90 day plan is a goal-oriented way to structure your time for the next three months. Though you could make a 30-60-90 day plan for learning anything, this strategy is most often used in business, generally when you’re trying to get hired, were just hired, or have recently been promoted.

30-60-90 day plans help you start in a new position with a plan of action and a sense of purpose beyond learning the ropes of your new role. It also gives you measurable milestones that your superiors can use to track your progress.

What’s the goal of a 30-60-90 day plan?

As mentioned, 30-60-90 day plans are usually implemented at the beginning of a new job, during a job interview, or shortly after a promotion. They serve several purposes, which we’ll get into now.

Identify your goals

First and foremost, 30-60-90 day plans help you identify your goals for a job position. Let’s exclude everyone else at your place of work for a moment and focus on you. Outside of making money, there are probably a few things you want out of a job: to improve, to climb up the ranks, to build a solid reputation, and to increase your value.

To manage all of these different things, you need goals. And not goals like “become a millionaire.” It helps to have grounded, actionable goals that you can work toward. We’re not saying you can’t become a millionaire, but that you need a step 1, step 2, etc. If you don’t know these steps, then you’re just relying on luck, which isn’t recommended.

Creating a 30-60-90 day plan helps you write down your goals for your job over the next three months in a strategic and focused manner, which is essential to making progress and achieving success.

Get your team on the same page

Now that we’ve covered that, we can start to zoom out a little and look at the rest of your coworkers. If you work on a team (or manage a team) a 30-60-90 day plan is a great way to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Too often, teams are either smothered by micromanagement or given so much freedom that “team” is a generous title. A clear 30-60-90 day plan helps everyone understand their role in the team and their goals perfectly without you (or your team manager) constantly reminding people of what they’re supposed to be working on.

Measure your progress

Lastly, using a 30-60-90 day plan gives you a metric for measuring your progress. If you plan to accomplish something within the next 30 days, you can easily check to see if you’ve completed that goal in 30 days; it’s a binary answer. You can also see how close you’ve gotten to completing that goal and estimate how much longer you need to finish it.

This is helpful for employees and managers alike, as managers can see how their employees are performing based on an agreed-upon 30-60-90 day plan. For employees, this gives you proof of your efforts, which increases your value. And for managers, this gives you clarity into what your employees are accomplishing.

When you shouldn’t use a 30-60-90 day plan

Now that we’ve covered all of the great things about 30-60-90 day plans, let’s talk about some of the things that make them not so great, specifically, when you shouldn’t use them.

You should not use a 30-60-90 day plan if you’re applying for a job that you know nothing about. If you’re new to your industry and haven’t been asked to create a 30-60-90 day plan, skip it. Otherwise, it will probably come across as arrogant and likely won’t be accurate anyway. Instead of coming in with a plan, come in with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. This is what hiring managers look for when hiring someone with little experience.

You also shouldn’t use a 30-60-90 day plan if the job you’re applying for has an extremely clear, predefined role for you to fill. For example, if you’re going to be screwing the caps on toothpaste tubes or answering customer service calls, a 30-60-90 day plan won’t be relevant to the type of work you’re doing.

30-60-90 day plans work best when you have a few years of experience in your industry (at least), already work within the company you’re writing it for, or you’ve been specifically tasked with creating one.

30-60-90 day business plan template

Your 30-60-90 day business plan will look a little different depending on what you’re using it for, but there are a few things that should apply across the board. Below is a simple template you can use to help you quickly create your own 30-60-90 day business plan.

The first 30 days: Be a learner

The first 30 days of a 30-60-90 day business plan should be your learning cycle. This is where you’ll learn what the company is all about, who performs which jobs, how your role fits into the grand scheme of things, and your daily activities.

If you’re seeking a promotion, creating this part of the plan should be fairly straightforward. But for new hires, it can be tricky, as you won’t know how to write this down in a way that’s specific to this company.

To overcome this challenge, don’t be afraid to ask your hiring manager questions, talk to others who work at the company, and scour any information you can find online. Use the information you find to tailor your learning goals to this company’s values and functions.

The first 60 days: Be a worker

The first sixty days of a 30-60-90 day business plan (or the second month) is when you’ll start to have your feet under you. This means you can start working on more serious goals that advance the company; it’s when you start preparing to make real change using the knowledge you’ve acquired during the first 30 days.

Your goals during this segment will be to start seeking feedback and criticism from superiors, trying to hone what you’ve already learned. You’ll also want to start setting weekly goals for yourself, like landing a new sale, speaking with a lead, taking on a new client, debugging software, etc.

The first 90 days: Be a leader

The first 90 days of your 30-60-90 day business plan (or the third and final month) is when you should have found confidence in your role at this company. You’ll understand how the company runs, what each person does, what you do, and how all of these things affect one another.

Knowing this will allow you to be proactive and to make real changes that can benefit you, your coworkers, and the company. This is the part of your 30-60-90 day business plan where you’ll suggest potential projects that you can lead, performing tasks (within reason) that go beyond your role’s requirements, and communicating with coworkers to start making real progress.

Mistakes to avoid when making a 30-60-90 day business plan

1. Don’t be vague about your goals

This is one of the easiest mistakes to make, especially when you look at lots of different templates before you start writing your own 30-60-90 day plan. You don’t much about the company or what you’ll be doing there, so you say things like “I’ll learn a lot and then start a project of my own.”

Of course, this isn’t a bad goal, but it doesn’t tell your hiring manager anything that any other applicant couldn’t have said themselves. The same goes for those seeking a promotion.

Being vague in this way tends to make your 30-60-90 day plan somewhat pointless. It’s not really a plan, more so a collection of feel-good answers you think a manager wants to hear. To avoid this mistake, make sure that you choose grounded, measurable, clear goals, like “Make [x] sales,” or “Implement [y] feature.”

2. Don’t create a one-size-fits-all business plan

Similarly, don’t create a 30-60-90 day plan that reads like it could’ve been used for any number of businesses within your field. For example, if you’re going into sales, creating goals like “Landing [x] amount of clients,” and “Improving ad copy,” doesn’t show that you understand the company at hand.

You can easily tell if you’ve made this mistake by changing the name of the business in your 30-60-90 day plan to another business’s name. If everything still makes perfect sense, then you’ve probably erred too close to being generic.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix! Just take the goals you’ve already created and tweak them in small ways that show you’ve paid attention to this company’s values, workflow, customers, and goals. For example, you can tweak the goals above as such: “I will land [x] clients that can improve ABC Company’s performance in [y] market,” or “I will improve ABC Company’s ad copy to showcase [xyz] strengths.”

3. Don’t use your plan as a crutch

Last but not least, don’t use your 30-60-90 day plan as a crutch during an interview or promotion discussion. What that means is, don’t let it be the most impressive part of your interview. It’s only a small part of what will make you a desirable candidate.

There are other factors that most managers will see as equally or more important, like your adaptability, willingness to learn, experience, and so on. Your 30-60-90 day plan should showcase that you’re a thoughtful and motivated candidate, not that you know everything about this job and that you will “shake this company up.” Be humble, present your plan, and sell yourself, not your goals.

Start improving your job success today

A 30-60-90 day business plan is a great way to improve your chances of landing a job or a promotion and improve your job performance in general. If you found this article helpful, check out the rest of our Resource Center for more helpful tips from B12!

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