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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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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
  4. 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.

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