Understanding Strategic Planning
The most common thread between all great businesses and those achieving great advances whilst other are complaining is the design and implementation of a Strategic Planning document. Depending on the business it may be referred to as a Business Plan, Mission Plan or Strategic Plan.
The other thing you will notice straight away with them is that they are long term focused, clearly state the business mission, values and objectives. It is their road map to taking advantage of market opportunities and the overall strategy being applied to achieve them.
Long focused is not just the next 12 months (that is the purpose of Operational Plans) but rather the focus of at least the next 5 years and some companies outline the next 10-20 years. Council and government bodies regularly outline 20 to 50 year strategic plans. With social changes, globalisation and other rapid changes it is attempting to keep focused on the overall reason they exist and how to manage this in the future.
Strategic planning involves the plan being integrated, connecting financial forecasts across each area of the business via its operational plans. Strategic planning develops the step by step objectives of the business and then then the current strategy (being relevant to current knowledge of markets, legislation, taxation and technology etc to achieve these objectives or the business mission.
Strategic plans may look at the overall position of the market and broader risk matrix and other relevant analysis tools will be seen at this point. More specific analysis tools such as SWOT’s etc tend to be used in the Operational planning stage where it is more relevant.
What to do first?
The first step is to identify and picture where the business will be in 5 years. Where is it operating, what are its products and services and how they will be delivered, what customer challenges are you solving and how are you profiting from it?
With a clear Strategic Plan, your supporting operational plans become much easier to create, clearer and very focused in ensuring that the research and resources are clearly used to support the Strategic Planning. With a clear 5 year or longer focus, you become harder to be distracted by other ‘opportunities’ (seemingly) which would otherwise divert your attention from the business achieving its long term mission and goals. Ever been to a new place without a road map. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and admit using a plan is easier than guessing.
Regular review of the operational plans in line with your Strategic plan is critical along with ensuring that your Strategic Planning is not left behind with legislative, economical or other Social changes. Keeping focused on the long term objective and ensuring everything done within the operational plans and daily within the business is a key component to a successful and surviving business in the 21st Century. Remember you can’t do business the same way they have done it in the past. We are Global Small Businesses and must respond accordingly.
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