For every business, whether large or small, being able to plan effectively is crucial for growth and survival in today’s highly competitive markets. Implementation is important, but unless action is properly focused, it’ll yield only minimal results, if any. When it comes to strategic planning for your business, there are several things you’ll need to keep in consideration to ensure success and profitability, starting with these formative five.
1. Set granular goals.
The difference between a strategic plan and business plan is essentially in how granular they are. While your business plan should be a high-level overview of your goals and what you intend to achieve, your strategic plan must divide the objectives into their component parts and outline every step you’ll take to achieve them. That way, you’ll be able to see what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis and assign essential tasks to team members while being able to see how every piece intersects to help your company achieve its goals.
2. Select metrics and track religiously.
When you’ve detailed your goals, the next step will be to select the metrics by which you’ll track your progress. Many business owners make the mistake of focusing on the wrong metrics. The crucial ones depend on your particular industry and goals, but generally, you should prioritize sales, customer engagement and referral rates, because they reflect long-term success better than, say, web traffic.
You’ll then need to track your metrics comprehensively. Make sure your collection methods are effective so you’re not working with defective data, which can lead to bad decisions. Keep an eye on each metric, but remember to consider how they all fit into the bigger picture so you can use the information to tweak your strategic plan over time.
3. Work With a mentor.
Having an experienced mentor is crucial in business, affecting everything from hiring success and employee turnover to sales and profits. The likes of Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have all stated that having a mentor to whom they could turn for guidance in trying times was a crucial part of their success.
According to Braxton Yoeman, a top business-consulting coach with My Success Team, “You’ll be able to tap from their wealth of experience, sidestep mistakes and make important decisions by relying on their knowledge of how things work. Ideally, your mentor would be someone in your industry, but many of the issues small businesses must deal with span across industries, so that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.”
4. Take your team along and involve everyone.
Since you’ve broken down your goals and made them as granular as possible, it only makes sense to bring all members of your team in to understand the strategic plan and how each task affects the overall progress of your company. That big-picture perspective is often the necessary motivation for your employees to go over and above when necessary.
People like to believe in things bigger than themselves, and crafting your strategic plan into a vision of success can help to provide that. Hold regular meetings during which you review activities in light of the strategic plan, keeping it reinforced in everyone’s mind.
5. Keep it flexible.
Most industries are getting disrupted in one way or another, whether it’s big data, AI, robotics or any other technological innovation. Strategic plans from a few years ago will likely need updating, and the same thing is likely to happen to your plan soon, presenting both an opportunity and a challenge. On one hand, you can make your strategic plan flexible to be able to take advantage of innovations that occur down the line, but on the other, if you create a plan that’s too rigid, you’ll find it difficult to pivot.
Make sure you leave some leeway with your goals and the methods with which you intend to achieve them, and be sure to review your strategic plan and tweak it whenever necessary. That way, you’ll always stay ahead of the curve (and your competitors) in innovation and profitability.