Business strategy and planning isn’t just a box to check off on your to-do list. Strategic planning underlies many things: your small business identity, your advertising and revenue, your operations, your management plan, and your financing. Even established businesses need to differentiate themselves from the competition to increase and grow their margins. As we learned the pomodoro technique, planning is more than just a team-building exercise, but among the benefits of using the comprehensive planning process described below is creating a good, cohesive management team. Here is my six-step process for creating an actionable strategic business plan.
Build the Orient Participants
Building a common understanding of the preparation process and framework that provides a vision for your business is the first and the chief of every successful business planning. This step sets the framework for the process and explores alternatives to develop the process’s unique elements fully. Members of the planning team should be drawn from the company’s business units (finance, marketing, operations). So, they can bring different perspectives depending on their area of expertise. The ultimate goal of these owners is a key element of the plan.
Review Your Current Mission and Goals
You should continue by determining your starting point and explore options that add value to your current plan. If you are unsure of your position, it will be difficult for you to define your leadership. With a three-question customer-focused exercise, I represent your current business and look ahead to the next 12 months. Defining your business from the customer’s perspective can make all the difference in your success. While tactical goals are usually good for an extended period, having an excellent strategy for the next year is critical to gaining confidence in a three- or five-year program.
Prepare Your Situational Analysis
The next thing that your company needs to do is to identify the market, instead of dealing with large, broad markets, determining your specialty, and specifying it into a competitive advantage instead. All of your core competencies are strengths, but does each have value? Finally, identify and evaluate your perceived opportunities. Organizing a situation analysis might be an extreme measure, especially if you find that you are not well aligned with your customer base. If you are not well satisfied, you are faced with the choice of finding new customers, developing new solutions or products that meet customer needs, or perhaps becoming a statistic. Over the past two decades, we have seen some notable examples of companies that have not responded to changing customer needs and demands and changing government regulations.
Construct Your Strategy
This is where you need to differentiate yourself and make plans to beat the competition. Some companies did poorly in the downstream market, but others improved and thrived because they had a strategy that responded to change. Small businesses have an advantage over their larger competitors because they can respond more quickly to change and implement new ideas. This step undoubtedly requires attention, but the rewards can be significant. Remember that many large companies have fallen into recessions. Other micro-businesses have proven their worth and been acquired by a larger company.
Set Your Implementation Plan
Set action goals as the actions without strategy are false. A plan without action is wasteful. What specifically needs to be done to achieve your goals? Stories should be broken down into quantifiable steps along a timeline and assigned to specific people. Will you fund your plan? Your implementation schedule is the essential reality check. If it is not realistic or you do not have the necessary staff, resources, or funding, what changes would you make to achieve your goals?