Small Business & Startups

Do you have a strategic plan?

June 13, 2013
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When was the last time you looked at your strategic plan? Do you have a strategic plan?

In order for a business to be successful, there needs to be a roadmap for success.

A strategic plan provides direction for the company and goals for employees. It helps departments focus on priorities and aligns the departments with company goals.

A strategic plan should be completed in three steps.

Step 1

The management team and critical staff need to begin thinking strategically.

This can be done through various steps, but should include the following:  review or complete mission and vision statements and complete a SWOT for the company.

These will help identify issues and potentially identify areas where the company can grow or improve. The challenge is to identify the right area which will provide the greatest impact for the company.

Step 2

The actual planning.

This should include creating objectives, determining initiatives to accomplish the objectives and develop an implementation plan.

A complete implementation plan is key to achieving the desired results. The implementation plan needs to include the objective, metrics to measure success, a champion to report on progress and monitor the metrics, tasks to be completed, an owner to complete these tasks and, lastly, deadlines.

This critical step in the planning process helps lay the framework for taking the plan down to daily activities and individuals who can be held accountable for completing the tasks.

Step 3

“Actioning."  

If the strategic plan is not used, it will be a wasted effort and the future will not happen. The time and energy used to complete the strategic plan will not be used to the company’s benefit.  

It is very important to start within a week of the plan’s completion to begin working on the implementation.

Dedicated meetings and reporting need to be employed to hold everyone in the company accountable for implementing the objectives and tasks identified in the planning process.

The longer the strategic plan sits with no activity, the more likely it is to not be used at all.

The updates should not take long — anything longer than one hour is too long. They strategic planning follow-up should be focused, and the champions should report on the progress and any challenges within a short amount of time.

Strategic plan benefits 

Companies that utilize strategic planning effectively state there are many advantages.  Here are a few.

1. The facilitated discussions help the staff clarify issues and set priorities for the company. Everyone has a voice that is heard, and they all agree on the next steps.

2. There is a clear vision and direction for the company. Everyone understands the direction and is “on the same page.”

3.  As challenges and problems get fixed through the implementation process, employee morale improves. Holding everyone accountable for change helps move the company from talking about what to do — to actually doing it.

4. Using metrics to measure success company-wide establishes a systematic process to measure the company, department and individual performance.

There are many other benefits. But according to business owners, the hardest part is to start the process and follow-through.

As one owner stated, “Our plan wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough. It gave us a framework to start changing our company and the flexibility to change as we worked on the plan.” 

Developing a strategic plan is not difficult.

It takes a lot of thought and feedback from internal and external resources on a routine basis.

The process of writing a strategic plan is an opportunity — to build relationships and to set a path of success for your business.

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