What’s worse: no strategic plan at all, or an outdated and ineffective one?
Strategic planning is an essential component for your business’ growth plan. Taking the time to look ahead will help you overcome unique challenges, leverage emerging opportunities, grow steadily and build a foundation for success.
Without a strategic plan, you’ll struggle to improve and grow your business. But, with an ineffective strategic plan, you risk even more. And, unfortunately, most strategic plans fail.
To build an effective strategic plan for your business, or to review and strengthen your current one, there are five critical questions you must ask yourself
1. What is your current situation?
Answering this question honestly can be confronting for some business owners. It might highlight gaps in the business, or shine the harsh light of reality on where you are versus where you thought you’d be. Especially after the year we have all experienced.
But this is an important hurdle to overcome; by recognising where you’ve fallen short, you’re immediately recognising what needs to be done.
In this step, it is also helpful to look at the bottom-line, overall health of your business, number of clients, trends in different departments, number of employees, financial health of the business, and the state of your target market.
Leave no stone unturned as the data from this assessment with motivate and direct your next steps.
2. How did you get to where you are today?
What steps did you take (good and bad) to get to where you are today?
Do you have any regrets? What were the most successful decisions you made that saw your business grow?
This moment of reflection will help identify the lessons you have learned from running your business until now.
It’s important to remember that this isn’t a blame game but an objective exercise in assessing how you began at point A to get to point B. It should be an honest process designed to strengthen your business.
3. Where do you want to go from here?
Now that you’ve reflected on where you are and how you got there, it’s time to strategise for the future.
Focus on the big picture. Ask yourself what success looks like to you. You need a clear vision for the future—it’s what will fuel your strategic plan.
Define your goals, set a timeline and understand how you will measure your success. And don’t forget to identify the key milestones along the way.
Communication is the most important tool, so remember to clearly communicate these to your team.
4. What needs to happen?
At this point, you have clarity on the state of your business. You know:
- The strengths, weaknesses, and potential opportunities.
- How you got to where you are now and what you could have done differently.
- Your vision and goals.
So, what actually needs to change for you to reach success? What obstacles do you need to overcome?
Get your team involved in this step if they aren’t already—chances are they will be able to see potential blockers that you simply can’t.
Again, communication is key. Break down the plan for your staff so they understand the goals, the steps to achieving them, and how they play a part in making it all happen. Team alignment is critical in actioning your strategic plan, and thus, achieving success.
5. What additional knowledge, skills and resources are required?
Your strategic plan won’t be perfect. In fact, you may have milestones that can’t be achieved with your current team structure / assets / resources / pricing model, etc.
You need to identify your gaps. Maybe your current staffing structure isn’t scalable, or perhaps you have noticed a skills gap in technology use across your business.
It’s important to embrace this step when planning your business’ strategy. Upskilling your staff and balancing your resources will help build the frame that will support your goals.
Buckle up and knuckle down
Planning and implementing a strategic plan is difficult, not to mention overwhelming at times, but these questions will help steer you in the right direction so you can create a solid strategic plan that will guide you towards success.
If you need any help or guidance with strategic planning then please get in touch.