The immediate goal of every business owner is to generate leads and make a profit. There are many ways to achieve that in the short term. However, every business would love to thrive, build a reputable brand, and stay in business for as long as possible. That is where the need for strategic planning comes in.
Strategic planning involves laying the foundation for the long-term future of a business or organization. It is the act of creating the step-by-step strategy that a business can use to reach a set of goals it has set.
Strategic minds understand the need to create plans for their businesses and formulate strategies to achieve them.
However, before you sit down to create a plan, you must first answer these questions satisfactorily:
- Does my business need a plan?
This is a thoughtful and important question. Depending on your business's size and how long you want to keep it running, you may proceed without a plan or create one to accommodate your goals for expansion in the future. But first, sit down and consider this question and document your answer.
- How long should I plan for?
A strategic plan can cover any duration from a year up to 10 years or even more. It is essential to define how far out you want your plan to cover. These days, most businesses sit down every year to evaluate their performances and then use the information they get to make plans for the following year.
If you own a startup business, you can adopt that approach in your business as well. Starting with short-term quarterly plans to 6-month and 12-month plans.
For businesses that have been around longer than a year, a solid 3-year plan or 5-year plan will help build on their stability and exposure.
- What information do I need to create a plan?
Generally, you would need to gather any information that will be relevant in the planning process. Such information includes details about the current state of your business, its history, finances, and sources of funds, leadership, core values, strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives, and your vision for the future. Only after gathering all this information can you create a strategy for a successful business.
- How long should the planning process take?
The planning timeline depends on your business's size and how much time you have on your hands. Generally, once you have sufficient information, the planning process should take off quickly.
The important thing is to take enough time while making the plan without causing a delay in the process.
- Who should be involved in the planning process?
It is crucial to get the right set of people involved in the planning process. Many people make plans that ultimately fail because they forgot to include the people who would have been crucial to the planning process from the start.
You must consider whether you need to involve a professional team of planners or just yourself in the process.
A goal-oriented plan can help to define goals, set targets, and measure performance using predefined metrics.
- Creating a vision statement
The planning process for any business usually includes the following steps:
Setting up a business involves a lot of moving parts, most of which must be figured out before progress can be achieved unless, of course, the business only wants to start up and experiment until it discovers its rhythm. Experimentation and improvisation are enemies of business success. They will waste the business' resources and human capital without tangible results.
A vision statement is the starting point of a goal-oriented plan. As the term states, a vision statement usually contains a few sentences that paint a clear picture of what the business hopes to achieve.
The statement summarizes the goals of the business and indirectly states how to accomplish those goals. With a clear vision plan, the next step to developing a strategic plan becomes much more comfortable.
- Writing a mission statement
Your mission statement comes after your vision statement. Where the vision statement explains the goal of a business, the mission statement defines the "why" and "how" of the business. So, basically, you should be able to think about why your business exists and how your business hopes to achieve its vision.
This means you will need to rely a lot on your vision statement to prepare a convincing mission statement.
Basically, your mission statement should tell the public the problem your business plans to solve and how it will do it.
- Writing your core values
Your core values are the key deliverables for your business, your modus operandi, the rules of engagement, the guidebook to service delivery.
- Performing a gap analysis
After you have created your "67% of a business plan," the next step is to conduct a gap analysis to determine how far off your goal your business is. A gap analysis is simply a comparison of the goals you have set for your business versus the current position of your business. A gap analysis will help to identify the key areas that should be strengthened in the company.
- Writing your goals
Your gap analysis gives you a realistic outlook on your business so that you can formulate achievable goals. With all the information you have collected, you should have a view of the bigger picture, which should make your goals time-bound and easy to write. Your goals can include the level of automation you aim to apply to your business, the forms of marketing you want to use, how you will engage with customers and improve lead generation, and when you hope to achieve them.
- Implementing your plans and measuring performance
This is the last part of the process. Once you implement your plans, you must also measure the business's performance using specific Key Performance Indices metrics to know how close you are to your goals.