If you don't know what you are trying to achieve, you won't achieve it. That's where strategic planning comes in. Having a clear understanding of your business, its mission, its vision and its strategic goals gives you a road map for future action. Over the next few months, we'll be taking a look at strategic planning, how to write a mission statement and a vision statement (as well as what makes those two things different), setting strategic goals and then achieving them.
The start of the year is an excellent time to set strategic goals. Many of us do this on a personal level with New Year's resolutions. And just like with New Year's resolutions, the key to success is a sustained effort. Strategic planning yields value directly proportionate to the time, energy and thought you put into it. If you spend a couple of hours on it and then file it away for later, well, that's not going to do your business a lot of good. A methodical and sustained approach is best. To ensure the successful realization of your goals, you'll want to refer to (and refine) your strategic plan over time.
Put Together a Team
The first step is to put together a Strategic Planning Team. Depending on the size of your business, the size of the team can vary. In putting together a team, you'll want to involve all the key people and roles in your business. This helps you make sure every aspect of your business is represented when determining your goals and achieving them. It also helps ensure that everyone has a stake in making your plans both realistic and successful. We've put together a worksheet that helps you understand the different roles in strategic planning and the responsibilities of each role. In a small business, one person can be responsible for many goals, but it is always helpful to know who should be doing what.
Creating a strategic plan can seem fairly overwhelming, but the steps are fairly straightforward. We've also made a worksheet for these steps. It helps you see the different elements that go into the process and helps you define an appropriate amount of time for achieving each step. You'll see that as you go through the process you move from more abstract tasks, such as defining your business's mission, to more concrete and tangible steps for achieving your goals, such as action plans.
Define Your Business
Next it's time to start the process by defining your business. By identifying the scope and methods of your business you start to come to a clear understanding of what you do and what makes your business different. This is essential information for determining a strategic plan that grows your business's unique value. This helps you drive success through your business by ensuring that your actions are working to clearly distinguish your business from the competitive landscape.
Finally, you'll want to spend some time analyzing your different goals. Are they strategic goals, operational goals or project goals? Strategic goals are the big-picture things you are trying to achieve with your business. Operational goals are the things your business must do to achieve your strategy, and project goals are the actions that must be taken by individuals or teams to achieve your operational goals. We've designed a worksheet to help you work through each type of goal to come away with a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve, what you must do to achieve it and the actions required for each step.
Be sure to check back here for future posts on strategic planning. Next we'll show you how to write a mission statement and a vision statement for your business, as well as what makes those two things different. In the meantime, these materials can help you get started putting the people and processes in place to make your strategic planning a success!
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