I love the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail.” I think most would agree that it is true but as a small business owner, do you actually have a plan?
A strategic plan is a tool that can be used as a GPS system for the success of your business. Where are you going, how long will it take to get there, what specific “turns” must be made along the way to reach your destination?
Much like a business plan, a strategic plan starts with your company purpose, vision or mission statement. Before you begin writing the plan perform a situation analysis. That is a fancy phrase for looking at your company’s current position and asking key questions. Asking and answering where are we now, where do we want to be, who are our competitors, what is the future of our industry and how do we properly position ourselves will get you off to a great start.
One of my favorite tools that I frequently share with clients is the SWOT Analysis. It is very simple and stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Once you have established goals and directions you can craft strategies to get you there. Everyone in your organization should be involved in the strategic planning process. You may be surprised at the insight that employees can offer and implementation of the plan will require their time and commitment as well as your own.
I like strategic plans that focus on a key objective. I think they are easier to define and implement than tackling an overall strategy. Some key objectives might be: controlling costs, product or service development, personnel training, process improvement, identifying new market opportunities, increasing margins and determining if there is a need for additional resources such as funding.
The most important part of your plan will be follow-through. If a strategy is not producing the intended result it must be evaluated and adapted. Lastly, monitor your progress by establishing benchmarks and checkpoints. Strategic planning should be an ongoing process throughout the life of your business.
If you need assistance with strategic planning, we can help. If you would like to receive the SWOT Analysis Template, please send me an email.
Becky Brownlee is a business consultant with The University of Georgia SBDC at Georgia Southern University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.