Strategic planning is one of the most important things you can do for your organization’s success. What is a strategic plan? A strategic plan is the blueprint for how your company will accomplish its goals and objectives. A common mistake many businesses make is creating a plan in the early stages of startup, but never revisiting it. The strategy for your success must be top-of-mind every year and throughout your company culture if you want to achieve positive results.
Imagine a complex, 1500-piece puzzle in front of you. Putting together the jumbled mess will give big payoffs of satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Plus, you can glue the pieces together in the end to create a beautiful piece of artwork for your wall that can be enjoyed for years to come. But first, you must assemble it, and in its current state, it just looks like a disorderly heap of rubbish.
So right away you start planning. Edges first. Sort all the edges into a pile and push the rest of it to the side. Or you may choose to do your sorting first—edges, like colors, similar patterns.
Then you start assembly. Edges first. The foundation upon which to build. The frame of the puzzle.
That is the basis of constructing a strategic plan for your business—begin with the end. It is so much easier to create a road map from where you are if you know where you’re going.
Once you’ve written down where you hope to be, you’re ready to create your strategic plan. Using these five tips, you can have a business plan strategy in 48 hours that will give you a sustainable competitive advantage.
1. Set time away from distractions
Your business needs you. There are many things to take you away from creating your strategy, so it is imperative you make this a priority. Block your schedule. Hold your calls. Leave your cell phone in another room. Set an out of the office email notice.
Treat your planning time like a retreat so that you can give it all your focus. Turn on some light classical music. Prepare a functional workspace. Keep a healthy snack and drink nearby, so you don’t have to get up repeatedly. Whatever you do, make sure your mind is in the right place, so you can focus on the future of your business.
2. Utilize a strategic planning template
In our technologically advanced world, it can seem like everything has already been invented. In this case, that feeling is true. There are many strategic planning templates out there, both free and for a cost, that will save you time. Don’t reinvent the wheel when you could be working on what really matters for your organization.
If you want to make notes before committing to a specific template, make sure you include the following sections during brainstorming:
- Executive summary
- Description of your business
- Vision and mission statements
- SWOT Analysis
3. Identify what’s most important
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is key to quickly creating a strategic plan. There are many important things that can affect your business’ success. Employee engagement, customer satisfaction, revenue, decreased spending, and more are critical parts driving goal achievement. These are all elements of what is most important for your company.
For example, you want to attain a certain net promoter score (NPS) so that you can achieve X number of new clients over the year. If that’s the case, you know which direction your planning must head. You may now know you need to install a customer survey program into your system that will measure where you start, then take the insights and develop methods for increasing the number. And there you’ve started really delving into the details of your strategic plan.
Remember that your most important strategic goals may change each year. Once you attain the NPS you want, you may decide it is time to implement employee engagement measures, or you may find yourself needing BPM to really connect your employees and customers. This step is crucial to your strategic plan, and it shows the importance of creating a plan every year.
4. Perfect your mission and vision statement
You probably created a mission and vision statement when you first started, but how long has it been since you checked it to make sure it still matches your plan for the future? If it’s been longer than the last strategic planning session, it is absolutely necessary for you to revisit them.
Once you’ve identified what’s most important to your company, you should read your mission and vision statements. Forbes’ Five Steps to a Strategic Plan blog says, “[Identifying what’s most important] sets the direction of the enterprise over the long term and clearly defines the mission (markets, customers, products, etc.) and vision (conceptualization of what your organization’s future should or could be).”
It may be time to rewrite your mission and vision statement to match your company’s strategic goals. This clarity of purpose will help you and your workers understand the direction of the organization. As I’ve said before, it is critical to have both statements for sustainable growth, so perfecting these critical sections adds value and meaning to your strategic plan.
5. Consider the new core principles
In 5 Core Principles for Creating a Fresh, Engaging Strategic Plan, I discussed the frustrations I experienced trying to build upon an old strategic plan. Instead of recognizing that each year I have new objectives, I errantly tried to force the previous year’s plan into a mold for the future. It didn’t work, but I learned a valuable lesson about strategic planning, and I devised five new principles for creating a strategic plan:
- Develop a plan based on what I want to create for the future
- Imagine that it is already the future for the business and the plan describes how we got there
- Be eager to say, “I don’t know,” and curious about where the resources may come from
- Create an empowered team based on each person’s strengths
- Focus on the core business and say “no” to everything else
Creating a dynamic strategic plan doesn’t have to be a long process. It doesn’t have to be scary, and it definitely shouldn’t be something you put off. Following the above steps will give you the edge in understanding your business’ future and the directions to get where you’re going.
For guidance regarding Constructive Feedback, Performance Management, Employee Relations, Leadership and Executive Coaching and Development, and all things “HR”, The Pendolino Group is here to support you and your team. Contact us today!
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