Learn what Strategic Planning is and why it is a vital part of running your business. This course will explain why strategic planning is important and describe typical steps taken in the process. Get the tools to create successful strategic plans that will propel your business to success.
Duration of the course: 00:30:00
System Requirements: Adobe Flash Player.
Due to Flash limitations, This course will only play in iOS tablets or mobile devices with additional software installation. Look for Apps on the Apple App store that enable flash playing on IOS devices.
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1.3 Course Topics
This course will cover three topics. These topics will illustrate how strategic planning can improve your business’s success:
• What is strategic planning?
• How does strategic planning work?
• What can I do to make my strategic plan successful?
Additional resources are identified to assist you. Visit the resource icon in the course player or locate additional tools, templates, and mentors on SBA.gov once you finish the course.
Let’s get started!
1.4 How Is a Strategic Plan Different from Any Other Plan?
Creating a strategic plan involves establishing a strategy your business will follow over a set period of time. It can be specific to one area or generalized for the business as a whole. For example, your plan may address only your marketing strategy. A strategic plan is not a business plan. Business plans are typically for new businesses, particularly those seeking investors. A business plan makes an argument for the viability and need of your business; it does not establish a long-term direction for your business. Strategic planning should establish goals and action plans for growing your business.
1.5 The Importance and Purpose of Strategic Planning
There is nothing more important than establishing goals for your business, and strategic planning is a good vehicle for doing so; however, it can be a waste of time if not done properly. Strategic planning must be viewed as a tool and not a goal. Often, businesses spend time crafting complex strategic plans that do little to establish a clearly stated direction for their employees. A strategic plan should not consume your valuable time and resources. Rather, a strategic plan should help streamline business practices and boost employee productivity. Strategic planning enables you to take control of your future and provide a workable framework for expanding your business intelligently. Ideally, a strategic plan will provide long-term clarity and focus. Strategic plans are not just for big businesses. Small businesses can benefit tremendously, boosting their productivity, expanding their markets, and becoming more significant contenders in their industries.
1.6 Benefits of Strategic Planning
Some of the benefits associated with creating a strategic plan include:
• Control costs
• Increase margins
• Facilitate growth
• Position to survive economic downturns
• Determine if needed resources are available
• Compete in a competitive marketplace
• Impress investors
• Keep lenders apprised of development
• Use as tool to sell, merge, or buy a business
• Facilitate formation of strategic alliances
• Recruitment tool for key executives
• Use in public relations and marketplace credibility
• Use as the basis of a business plan
1.7 Overview of Strategic Planning
A good strategic planning process is one through which leaders define and implement a strategy to achieve the company’s goals.
The output of a strategic planning session includes:
• High-level objectives (such as critical improvement areas)
• Initiatives (action plans for achieving objectives)
Every employee should know the strategy and his or her place and role therein. A strategic plan should be a living document, revised at regular intervals, depending upon the changes in your industry. The strategic planning process should be open and flexible. It should encourage new ideas and be designed to challenge assumptions and the status quo and be communicated to all staff members and key stakeholders. Therefore, additional benefits of strategic planning include:
• Improves communication
• Increases knowledge of company and market
• Cultivates teamwork
Stakeholders in the strategic planning process include:
• Board members or key investors
• Key managers
• Admin assistant for notes and details
Expectations of stakeholders include:
There are a few tasks that should be addressed before beginning the strategic planning process.
• Begin with a situation analysis in which you establish a basis for action. Ask, “Where are we now? How can we quantify that position? Where are our competitors? How can we quantify that position?”
• You should also establish clear and consistent focus for the strategic planning meeting.
This could include a list of objectives, a clear agenda, a schedule, and expectations for included stakeholders.
• You must have a platform for involvement of team members. If all of your stakeholders are centrally-located, then this should be as simple as gathering in a conference room or office. If your stakeholders are not centrally-located, then you will have to consider other options such as teleconferencing, video-teleconferencing, or virtual meeting solutions.
• Similar to the platform for involvement is a method of communication. How will team members communicate with each other? Once again, co-location can simplify this problem; however, you will want a record of important conversations and decisions.
• Lastly, before you begin, you should establish success criteria. What do you expect your strategic plan to look like? How will it be documented and communicated?
1.10 Components of the Strategic Plan
There are several components of a good strategic plan.
• The first component is a business purpose, vision, or mission statement. This statement should sum up the essence of what you are trying to achieve as a company.
• The second component is organizational goals or objectives. These are the ends to which your efforts are aimed.
• The third component is strategies for reaching your goals. What approach will you take to meet the goal? This part changes frequently if a strategy is not helping you meet your
goal and should include built-in checkpoints for re-evaluation.
• The fourth component is actions to implement strategies. This will include specific, measurable activities.
• The last component is a monitoring plan. It is important to remember that follow-through is imperative for a successful strategic plan. You should include benchmarks, checkpoints, and milestones in your monitoring plan.
1.11 Strategic Planning Process
Now let’s discuss the actual strategic planning process. As you work through the process, remember to include opportunities for review and iteration. The strategic planning process may take a while in total, primarily through testing for viability. You want to make sure that the goals you have set and the plans you have established for reaching them are plausible and that other stakeholders in your business are willing to work toward them.
1.12 Purpose, Vision, or Mission
The first step in the strategic planning process is reviewing or creating a purpose, vision, or mission statement. This is a good opportunity to revisit your statement and make sure it still aligns with your business.
1.13 Establish a Focus
The next step is to determine the focus of the plan based on critical needs. Use the situation analysis from your pre-work. Where is your business now? Where does it need to be?
1.14 Develop Key ObjectivesDevelop key objectives to reach over 1–3 years. One way to establish these goals is through an open brainstorming session. Nothing is irrelevant, but everything can be streamlined and organized later. Ask yourself, “Do we have it? Do we really want it?” Then, preserve, eliminate, avoid, or decide to achieve each item depending on the answers to those questions. Select the “Objectives” puzzle piece to learn more.
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