A deliberate strategic plan involves a checklist of activities and assumes that you have a marketable product or service (you’d be surprised how many skip that all-important step when starting a business).
If you are looking for a consultant to assist with your strategic planning process, of course, you must consider much more than a checklist. Still, it’s important to understand the basics of a strategic plan to help you formulate your expectations of a potential business advisor.
Consider the following basic phases of a strategic plan for small business owners:
- Identify and involve your stakeholders. For some, this means inviting owners and representative employees and clients of your business to the process to ensure that you have a 360 degree view of your business.
- Evaluate the current state of affairs. Often, a simple SWOT analysis that helps you identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats can help you fully describe the current condition of your business for the purpose of informing your strategic plan.
- Identify the destination. Develop a vision for your business five to ten years down the line.
- Formulate a plan. Lay out the Goals and Objectives necessary for moving you closer to that vision. Of course, you will want to make sure that they are specific and measureable, but don’t forget to assign responsibilities for accomplishing those benchmarks and moving the strategic plan forward.
- Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as sales per quarter, operation cost controls, staffing goals, etc. These are the afore-mentioned benchmarks that help gauge your progress.
- Remain flexible. No doubt about it, course corrections will be necessary.
Graduate school terminology is not necessary – keep it simple and rely on good common sense. Keep these basic elements in mind as you plan for the next ten years, and consider what a hit-the-ground-running start you would have with such a strategic plan in front of you.
By Steven Schlagel