An effective action plan lays out the tasks needed to implement a particular strategy - in this case, negotiating with suppliers for better prices. The plan leader chooses a team, makes assignments, and creates a schedule.

It's almost 2012 and time again for annual planning. Last December we talked about establishing your financial goals for the coming year, including the number of jobs you were planning to sell, start, and finish ("Use Excel to Budget Next Year's Project Mix"). The plan revolved around five types of projects: remodeling, repair, new homes, commercial, and "other" (such as design-only jobs). Putting together a sales and income plan is critical to your success, so I hope you'll download that spreadsheet and put it to work again this year.But what about those project types? How do you know what kinds...