Great ideas are just that, great ideas unless your business has a plan to follow those ideas through. Strategic planning is the process of creating a mission and vision for your business. The process also allows one to evaluate where your business has been and create a roadmap for the future.
Your strategic plan should not collect dust in a drawer. A strategic plan is a great tool and resource for businesses to gauge business challenges and leverage potential opportunities.
The following five steps can help you build a solid strategic plan to keep your business moving forward and not spinning its wheels.
Understanding where you have been.
Prior strategic plans can provide a benchmark to measure where your company has been. It can also paint a picture of how your business has grown and faced challenges and opportunities.
If your business has not yet completed a strategic plan, consider listing your company strengths and history, industry challenges and opportunities, and potential industry threats. Seeing these on paper will help you as you start to formulate goals and metrics for your strategic plan.
Is your firm still headed on the correct trajectory?
Strategic plans are fluid, meaning sometimes, plans change. It is important to build the room in your strategic plan to allow your company to pivot. While we cannot predict things out of our control (I'm talking to you Covid); a strategic plan can allow us to change course in the event of industry challenges and opportunities.
Talk to your team
Strategic planning often involves executive leadership. The challenge is that executive leaders look at the "guts" of the business from a different perspective and have different concerns. Don't be afraid to get your team involved. As leaders, prior to your strategic planning session, spend time talking to your managers and your line employees. Ask them about their everyday challenges, their worries, their ideas, and what is working well. Surveys are great to collect information but there is nothing like getting your hands dirty and getting in the trench to see what your employees do day-to-day.
Don’t leave your team in the dark.
To facilitate a high-performing team, it's important that your team knows what the company is working towards. Have a team meeting to discuss the strategic plan with your team. If leadership expects buy-in from their teams, they should not only be involved in aspects of the planning process, but they should know how the strategic plan impacts their job. This means they should understand the goals and metrics to get there.
A plan is just a piece of paper and aspirations unless we have metrics to support our decisions. Consider ways your firm can evaluate and measure the goals outlined in your strategic plan. Measurable data allows you to easily see what has worked well and where you may need to change course.
Strategic planning is necessary to maintain momentum in your business. Don't rely on a vague vision but have an actionable plan that you can see come to life. A strategic plan is a tool that will guide your business towards growth and sustainability.