Most individuals make a new year resolution, from losing weight to saving money, but resolutions can be helpful for businesses too. The first step to achieving your company’s goals is to create a strategic plan to give you a clear path to success.
What is a strategic plan?
A strategic plan maps out your company’s long-term goals and vision. It lays out the actions needed to achieve these goals in step-by-step outlines with metrics for success measurement. This plan will help you focus on the big picture future of your business for the next 3 to 5 years. The plan can be developed at any time and reviewed as needed.
Why is a strategic plan essential?
Devoting time to planning where your business is headed and how you will get there can lower risks as your business grows. A strategic plan can deliver long term success by establishing these five areas:
- Direction and Focus – Having your goals clearly in focus and a detailed map to get there will allow for proactive thinking. Instead of constantly putting out fires, a strategic plan will help you to prevent them.
- Efficient Operations – Your company only has so many human and financial resources. A strategic plan will make sure you allocate and get the most out of those resources.
- Keeping You Competitive – To stay competitive in any market, you must know its strengths and weaknesses. With a strategic plan, your company can be ready for whatever the market throws you.
- Communicating to Stakeholders – A strategic plan allows you to quickly and clearly communicate your vision to all the stakeholders in your company. Also, their roles and obligations will be defined, allowing for improved performance.
- Stable Forecasting – You need a solid foundation to stabilize your forecasting. Having a strategic plan will allow you to forecast better with more certainty.
How is a strategic plan built?
Many frameworks can be used to build your strategic plan. They should contain these four basic steps:
- Understand your business by asking the following questions
- What are your mission statement and core values?
- What is your grand vision of your business?
- What is the best-case scenario?
- Perform a SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands for Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities. and Threats. As mentioned above, understanding your strength and weaknesses is vital. Ask yourself –
- What does my business do well?
- Where is there room for improvement?
- What external roadblocks are in our path?
- What are our competitors doing differently?
- What feedback are you receiving from stakeholders and customers?
- Use the information from above to define your goals
- Focus on specific goals that will help you obtain your ideal vision
- Make the goals achievable
- Establish a process to measure your progress
- Set your plan into motion
- Breakdown each goal into the tasks needed to achieve it
- Define who is responsible for each task
- Set clear deadlines
- Establish a frequency for reviewing your plan and metrics
Creating a strategic plan is an essential part of any company’s decision-making process. Regardless of your company’s size or past, it will provide a practical framework for developing your vision for your company into a clear and concise road map that will help guide your organization’s response to every new challenge.