All businesses are unique, but one thing many successful business owners have in common is the practice of strategic planning. This plan is used to ensure they have an understanding of their vision, their goals, and the steps needed to make these ideas a reality.
A strategic plan 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” according to BusinessDictionary.com.
All business owners should develop and frequently revisit their strategic plan. The definition includes the reasons why it’s vital to business success, but I will break them down further below.
Have you ever gotten in a car destined to have the best vacation ever without your GPS turned on or a destination in mind? I doubt it. Moreover, if you did, it’s unlikely that your trip was successful.
Whenever you take action, you have an idea of what you want your result to be.
When you get a haircut, you envision a specific style.
When you paint your bedroom, you know the emotion you want the color to evoke.
When you get married, you envision living happily ever after with your spouse.
Strategic planning allows you to do the same thing.
Envisioning a future for your business takes you out of the present and catapults you into the future, so your actions are working towards reaching your target.
Having a vision for your future allows you to set goals or objectives that will enable you to work towards that vision.
Setting proper goals is crucial for any business because it takes your vision and makes it more concrete.
Your long-range travel goal is to visit every continent by your 60th birthday.
How will you turn that dream into a reality? It starts by setting broad goals. You don’t need to define every detail from the beginning, just developing a general understanding is a great start.
These broad goals alone will not turn your overarching vision into a reality, however, identifying them start to make your concept more concrete.
Now that you have an overall vision along with broadly defined goals or objectives, strategic planning calls for you to break down each goal into actionable steps that make it achievable.
Having a vision is excellent and setting goals is even better, but without the actionable steps that follow, your goal will likely never be achieved. The steps turn it into a plan which is what every business owner needs.
Your vision, goals, and plan are the trifecta that make up strategic planning.
To continue with the example that was provided in the previous section, let’s take the first goal and break it down into actionable steps.
I will travel to Europe by my 35th birthday.
What steps will make that possible?
Now you have a plan that will help you reach your goal!
If you find yourself still asking, “What is Strategic Planning” or want a more in-depth explanation of what a strategic business plan is and the benefits of strategic planning you can read another blog post I wrote on this topic entitled The 5 Benefits of Strategic Planning For Your Business.
I included a strategic planning example related to travel because we can all relate to the concept. As simplistic as it seems, that’s ultimately how simple your business strategic plan can be.
Just remove the travel elements and replace the vision, goals, and plan you have for your business.
If you think you can travel to every continent before you’re 60 years old without goals or a plan, then by all means, maybe you don’t need to implement strategic planning in your business.
However, if you’re like the rest of the world and realize that goals and a plan help you to reach your vision faster, it’s time to implement one now.
If you already have a strategic plan that sits in a folder on your laptop that you never refer to, it’s time to pull it up.
A strategic plan is a living document, as your business grows and changes so should your vision, your goals, and your plan.
Develop your strategic plan, regularly revisit it and update it. That’s the key to successful strategic planning.
If your company has employees, full time or part time, it’s essential that they be up to date on your strategic plan and follow it with fidelity. Gaining employee buy-in and engagement is crucial to business success.
If you’re looking for a tool to help you improve your employee engagement, you need to download a free copy of my book, “5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement.” You can download your copy here. Its features best practices for getting your employees engaged in your company’s success. Strategic planning is most beneficial when everyone is on board and committed.
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.