As business owners and managers we are quite often caught up in the day to day work of running our businesses, dealing with clients, managing staff, developing new products and more often than not putting out fires. After all of this “work” is done there is no time left (or more importantly no energy left) to spend on what I consider to be the most important work that we face as business owners and managers, Business Development.
It is no wonder that the average business struggles to reach the size, profitability and success that urged the founder to start it in the first place.
What can you do to ensure that your business remains focused?
A Strategic Plan will guide your business, assist you with important decisions and keep you and your employees on track. It will identify your businesses reason for existence and define exactly what success means in your business world. Most importantly it will guide you and your employees along the path to business success.
You need to compile your Strategic Plan into a document. It is simply not good enough to state that it is stored in your head. You will find that once you have committed it to paper (or electronically) you and your business will start rapidly moving towards the goals you have identified in your Stragtegic Planning Document.
What do you put into a Strategic Planning Document?
- Be concise and to the point, you do not want to produce something that is difficult to read and update and irrelevant by the time it is completed.
- Include a statement on your vision for your company at the beginning of the document. This sets the tone for what is to follow.
- State exactly what it is that you are trying to achieve with your business. What is your Businesses Reason for Existence?
- Put this vision in terms of the problems that you solve for your clients. Always think in terms of your clients perspective because at the end of the day that is the only perspective that is really important to your businesses success.
-Identify the key Goals that your business needs to achieve to be successful. Define how you will know when you have reached the goals by associating a measurable rage of values with the goal i.e. Key Indicators
- Put a Specific Date on when each of goals will be achieved and Regularly Measure your progress towards reaching them.
Some examples of business goals include:
Financial Profitability Figures Company Growth Market Acceptance and Penetration Customer Satisfaction. New Product Innovation
What do you do with your Strategic Plan when you have finished it?
- Treat your Strategic Plan as a work in progress, business environments change rapidly, be prepared to alter your direction in response to customer, operational and competitive changes.
- Make sure you schedule a regular review and updating of the Strategic Plan. Even if your goals remain the same, regular review will commit the plan to your subconscious ensuring that you are always moving towards your goals.
- Use the Strategic Plan to help you make decisions in your business. Ask yourself “Will my decision move me closer to or further away from the goals in my Strategic Plan?”. If the decision moves you away from your goals then you should either not move ahead with the decision or you need to re-evaluate your Strategic Plan.
- Share the contents of your Strategic Plan with your staff. You may not want to disclose all of the business goals, but it is vitally important to communicate your vision and relevant goals with your employees.
How does a Strategic Plan differ from a Business Plan?
A business plan is a more formalized in depth document and generally takes months to develop. The problem with Business Plans is that they tend to make many (often invalid) assumptions and they are generally obsolete by the time they are finished. Business Plans, once produced, are rarely reviewed and updated.
A Strategic Plan is a working vision of where you are taking your business. When regularly reviewed and updated it remains relevant and aligned with your business.
There is not one thing that you could do immediately, right now in your business that will have as much positive long lasting impact as developing your Strategic Plan. Do it now, can you afford not to?
Copyright 2006 http://www.BusinessSystemsManager.com
Business System Manager Software assists you to develop a Strategic Planning Document. Start a Free Trial Today http://www.BusinessSystemsManager.com Justin Woolich has been involved with the Development of Innovative Business Software for over 12 years. He is passionate about assisting Businesses with Software for Business Development. http://www.BusinessSystemsManager.com/AboutJustinWoolich.aspx