The term strategic planning is frequently used in business, but you might find yourself asking, “what is strategic planning?”
Implementing strategic planning sets a business up for success. If you analyze the name, strategic planning is simple. It’s a process of planning the actions you take in your business strategically instead of making decisions on a whim or duplicating the efforts of other successful companies. However, there’s a bit more to strategic planning than meets the eye.
According to BusinessDictionary.com, strategic planning is “a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them.”
To develop a full understanding of what the strategic planning process is, let us discuss the three steps further.
As a business, you must have an idea of how your business will look in the future. How will your business operate six months, one year, or five years down the road? What will your business structure be? How many employees will you have? What will your profit be each year? Without the ability to conceptualize a future for your business creating a strategic plan is unattainable.
Once you have a vision for the future, it’s time to make specific goals to help that vision come to fruition. The best way to set goals is to make sure they’re SMART. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
An example of a SMART goal is, I will increase my consulting clients by 25% within the next 12 months.
It is specific and measurable because I can determine if my clients increased by 25% within 12 months by analyzing my metrics.
It is attainable because I set a reasonable goal.
It is relevant because the goal relates to my business.
It is timely because a realistic time frame is included.
Once you have your vision and your SMART goal, it’s time to develop a strategy to reach your objective. This is done by creating a step by step action plan.
Using the SMART goal I developed in step 2, if my goal is to increase the number of consulting clients I sign by 25% within 12 months I must
Creating specific action steps takes your vision from an idea to a goal to reality.
Completing the three-step process of strategic planning leads to numerous advantages in your business. Below you will find five significant benefits of implementing strategic planning.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Employment Dynamics, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 50% fail by their fifth year, and only 30% of companies make it to their 10th anniversary.
Having a strategic planning process in place increases the likelihood that you are making decisions that will lead to the long-term success of your business. Your vision, goals, and plan of action are all surrounding the ultimate goal of your company advancing, therefore increasing longevity.
When you have a specific vision with SMART goals and an outlined plan, there should never be a question of where your business is heading. Having a sense of direction will guide all of the decisions you make in your business. You will be able to effectively steer yourself and your employees as you make day to day decisions, increase efficiency and proactively work towards your goal.
Many businesses are suffering from copycat syndrome. They see other seemingly successful companies and copy their techniques without determining whether they best suit their business model. This leads to look alike companies being created.
However, when you develop a strategic plan for your business that’s unique to your vision and your goals, you are free to develop specific steps that work for you and you alone. You are free to show your marketing genius and creative ideas to reach your optimal level of success. Straying from the pact will set you apart from your competitors and provide you with a unique selling proposition.
In developing your strategic plan, you are developing measurable SMART goals. Because the goal is measurable, you can track your progress quickly and determine whether you are moving toward that ultimate vision. Evaluating progress helps you to identify strengths and weaknesses in your business, strategy, and employees. Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses helps you to make decisions regarding additional supports you might need to bring on board or strengths you should utilize more as you work to reach your goal.
As a business owner, you are frequently inundated with tasks. The goal is to focus on the most critical tasks first. Having a strategic plan will help you to identify the tasks that are most important and likely to move you toward your ultimate vision. Those priorities are where the majority of your time, energy, and effort should be spent. When you lack priorities and view everything on your to-do list with the same urgency, you are failing to optimize your time effectively.
Strategic planning is more than just creating a plan for your business. It can be the difference between reaching your 10th anniversary, or not making it past year 5. With a world full of competition in every arena, it’s important to set your business apart and prepare your business for success. Implementing strategic planning helps you to reach your goals the SMART way.
When developing your strategic plan, employee engagement and support is a non-negotiable. If you’re searching for a roadmap to increase employee engagement, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement here. It’s packed with strategies you can implement to ensure you and your employees are on the same path to business success.
Culture must be created, grown, and sustained by design over the long term. Cindy is a Culture Transformation Specialist for corporations. She uses a restorative process called A.I.R.R. to elevate your company culture and bring integration between your leadership, vision, culture, and team members to enhance overall performance.