“Cut the crap! You need a strategic plan!”
Yeah…that’s what I blurted out. Right in the middle of the people’s intense conversation. Shame on me!
It’s not like they were talking to me.
It was just a case of good food taking over my psyche, that made my mind drift to the conversation at the table next to mine.
And I couldn’t believe my ears!
There was a small business owner, who described himself as an entrepreneur. He said he was running a business with 32 employees for 18 years. And in that time, he had never done any strategic planning.
He went on to explain that he had no plans, to ever waste time, with a strategic plan since he knows everything about his business. Moreover, he does not need any outsider to come in and tell him how where to take it.
“Strategic planning is for big business! It’s not a business solution for me” he exclaimed.
It was then, before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “cut the crap! You need a strategic plan!”
Oh My! Finally, I was openly admitting that I was completely tired of hearing this “strategic planning” ignorance from small business owners.
Finally, I was no longer going to stand on the sidelines and let you stifle your chance to knock out the competition.
And I knew exactly what I was going to do about it…
I was going to give you some FREE information about a strategic plan and strategic planning. if only to stop you from being your own worse enemy.
So, let’s jump right in.
What is strategic planning?
First of all, it’s not a waste of time. Neither is it a substitute for your own leadership judgement.
Keeping it simple for you, it’s actually a reality check on where you are and a process for developing effective strategies to move you towards your desired outcomes.
The process usually involves evaluating both the internal and external environments of your business. This then allows you to devise strategies are flexible and dynamic and will help you to adapt to any changing environment.
If your strategies are carefully selected, they will give you a sustainable, competitive advantage in your marketplace or your niche.
What leads business owners like my “dinner friend” to say that strategic planning is for big business? Could it be that it is a common and smart approach, to have your strategic planning activity, facilitated by a disinterested third-party?
Listen, I have facilitated many strategic planning processes and written many strategic plans, both in the for-profit and the non-profit sectors. And many were for small businesses, whose owners never saw their size as a barrier to strategic planning.
So you see, strategic planning is NOT the prerogative or purview of big businesses. Even small businesses can benefit tremendously, from taking their business through a facilitated strategic planning process.
What is a strategic plan?
A key output of your strategic planning process is a document which captures the strategies you selected to grow and scale your business in the next 1 – 3 years.
This is your strategic plan.
It is also a tool that you can use to unite, motivate and lead your team, along a clear and focused path to achieving the results that were identified in the planning process.
You shouldn’t confuse it with a business plan. The business plan outlines the entire operations of a new business and indicates the amount of finance that you need to make your idea a reality.
On the other hand, you can use the strategic plan to look at where your existing business is and determine where you want it to go in the future.
So here are 9 reasons you need a strategic plan…
1. A strategic plan clarifies your growth strategy
A well crafted strategic plan presents a picture of your key priorities for the period. It also includes the strategies to implement them, and who is responsible for what.
In this way, everyone in the business is “on the same page.” This makes it easy to keep check on implementation, revisiting strategies which are not working as expected.
2. It increases stakeholder support
Having a strategic plan elevates you to that elite group of small businesses which actually have a strategic plan.
When you develop a strategic plan, you send the clear message that you’re serious about the business, you know where you want it to go and how to take it there.
This excites your stakeholders, including your customers and makes them willing to give you their support.
3. It promotes team building
The ultimate goal of your strategic plan is to enable you to focus your team on a select set of desirable, clearly articulated outcomes.
A well organised strategic planning process either involves key members of your team or all your employees, if the business is really small.
When all your team members have been a part of the strategic planning process in one way or another, they all have a keen interest in having the plan succeed.
This cohesion around the strategic plan is a sound foundation from which to build further agreement in other areas of your team.
4. The process represents a great training opportunity
Most business owners will have their strategic planning facilitated by an experienced Facilitator.
When this is the case, with access to so many employees, a skilled Facilitator will turn the process into a valuable training exercise.
This is one of the best and most important training exercises any small business can ever take part in.
5. A strategic plan helps you to choose great business opportunities
Remember, a strategic plan brings much clarity to where you are going with your business. Therefore, it’s like a laser for selecting the best business opportunities.
Without such a plan, you might be inclined to use a scatter shot approach to selecting business opportunities. You will be inclined to choose those your gut tells you are good ones. At first, this may seem like you are practicing business flexibility. but trust me, this so far from the truth.
You see, when you are clear about where you’re going, you can identify and strategically go after only those opportunities that fit your mission and vision.
6. It improves your marketing approaches
A strategic plan encourages you to conduct market research because this is one of the key things that drive meaningful strategies.
For example, you will quickly learn about the unique context in which you lead, In addition, you will discover who are your main competitors and customers and set targets to increase your market share.
And to top it all, with this intelligence and the clarity of your strategic plan, here’s something else you can do. You can now remove the inconsistencies among your brochures, website, sales collateral, etc.
When your strategic plan points you in the direction you want to go, you can then confidently differentiate yourself in your market or niche.
7. It improves the flow of revenue to your business
During the strategic planning process, estimating the expected revenue is a key activity.
It forces you not only to estimate the amount of revenue, but the sources as well as the flow of that revenue.
With this information, you are more likely to hit your targets because you know what they are and you have chosen meaningful strategies to achieve them.
8. A strategic plan serves as a staff retention tool
It is common knowledge that promotion opportunities are limited in small businesses.
So how can a strategic plan help with this?
Second, appoint a Strategic Plan Champion. The Plan Champion oversees the implementation of the strategic plan, which is a significant responsibility.
In working on strategic planning with my clients, I have encouraged them to make an employee who would have been promoted if a position was available, the Plan Champion.
This helps to retain a key employee who might otherwise have gone in search of greener pastures.
9. It reduces the feeling of overwhelm
So you have gone through the strategic planning process. You now have a strategic plan. Everyone is clear on the desired results and their role in helping to achieve.
This takes the proverbial load off your back!
You no longer have to be figuring out things on the fly and be constantly having to be putting out fires. Oh no! You now have a clear path forward for you and your team.
This reduces and even eliminates that awful feeling of overwhelm when you feel so out of control.
Your next “strategic plan” steps
So there you have them!
9 reasons why you must cut the crap and get a strategic plan.
With such a plan, you no longer have to make choices or take positions based purely on your gut feelings or without sufficient information.
While I know that’s not the best thing for your business, I understand how it could happen.
But you can’t, and I know you won’t, continue down that path now that you’ve read this post. You’re way smarter than that.
So if your business is ripe for it, begin your strategic planning right away. Because, you do need a strategic plan!
And if you’re not sure where to start, get someone experienced in the process to assist you.
To your strategic planning success…