The Importance Of Business Strategy Planning
Business strategy planning sounds a bit like an unnecessary repetition, doesn’t it? It almost sounds as though I’m saying something like television watching viewing. But let’s be real for a moment - while a strategy is a plan, strategic planning is so much more.
Strategic planning refers specifically to the step-by-step, roadmap-style approach you need to plan out when designing a business strategy. Without planning your business’ future in a tactical, considered way, you’ll be left with nothing more than a vision and / or vague goals and objectives.
In a survey of over 6000 businesses, companies that had leaders who were committed and confident about their strategy were found to grow faster and be more profitable than others.
So what goes into good business strategy planning? In my role, I offer strategic planning sessions with clients to help them put robust, trackable strategies into practice. I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned below. Remember: if you don’t feel comfortable planning out a strategy, you can reach out to me for help. Otherwise, read on for some handy tips and advice.
What a business strategy plan needs
Your business, whatever stage it’s at, will already have lots of ‘moving parts’. Products/services, marketing techniques, staff, cash flow and more are all things you need to think about when creating a strategy - which is why you need to get more granular with your planning. While having a vague idea of your vision and goals is good, a planned-out strategy includes:
- Vision, Values & Core Focus: Strategic planning should always start with the Vision - in order to make good decisions, you must be clear on your direction. Alongside your vision, you should also outline your values and core focus (you can read more about this under the Planning section in my blog about my Scaling Success Ecosystem).
- 3-5 Year Picture: Once you are clear on your vision, values and core focus, it is much easier to think about your 3-5 year picture of where you want your business to be in that timeframe. This isn’t a highly detailed plan but rather a handful of descriptive bullet points that paint a clear picture of the vision. What is your big, audacious goal for the business in the next 3-5 years?
- 1 Year Plan Measurables: Now it’s time to turn that vision into a realistic, strategic plan of action for the coming year. The key with this part of strategic planning is to start with the top level business measurables, generally revenue and profit, and you can add 1-2 others depending on your business (margin %, cashflow £, etc). The important thing to note is that you need to stick to the 2-4 that will actually drive your business closer to that 3-5 year picture.
- 1 Year Plan SMART Goals: Once you are clear on your measurables for the next year, it is much easier to drill down into the top 3-7 business goals that, if achieved this year, will have a tangible and positive impact on the top level business measurables. These goals need to be SMART (you can read my blog about how to set SMART goals here). This part is all about translating that ‘grand vision’ for your business into tangible, achievable targets that will help push you towards that larger vision and your 3-5 Year Picture.
- 1 Year Plan Actions: What activities are required to achieve your goals? My advice would be to treat your goals as a project. Like any other project in a business, that means planning in time to action parts of the goal, scheduling reviews of progress and having specific team members delegated to tasks associated with it.
What are the benefits of business strategy planning?
Putting a strategy in place isn’t just useful for defining goals and assigning the tools and processes needed to get there – it offers wider value throughout your whole business. Benefits include:
- Creating a more focussed approach that helps align you and your wider team around the business and its objectives.
- Highlighting the limitations in your business - specifically around processes, systems and your people (aka your team). A strategic plan will throw up any obvious gaps in your team for which you’ll need to strategically plan new hires, for example.
- In a survey of business owners, those who reported having a high-quality strategic plan in place were more likely to forecast increased profits and sales revenue.
Strategy is never ‘finished’
Strategy planning doesn’t exist in isolation - it’s not an activity you do once and then forget about. Instead, you should return to a strategy planning mindset at least every quarter, checking to ensure the business is still heading in the right direction (and if that direction is still the right one for your business).
In some cases, clients I work with already have some form of plan in place – but they’ve stagnated because the plan itself hasn’t ever been amended or updated. Instead, it sits in a file or folder somewhere and they pull it out now and then to show they have one. If that sounds like you, it’s time to remember why a strategy was important in the first place: it’s about creating something valuable that helps you grow and scale.
You don’t have to go it alone
Having the time and focus needed to perform a strategic planning session is hard. That’s why, even by giving you the tips I have above, I know I can still add value to your business. While you’re constantly working through the day-to-day of your business, you’ll struggle to gain the outside perspective required to create an objective, measured strategy.
Work with me and we’ll create the focused plan you need to grow your business. We’ll account for everything from resources, tools and processes through to customers, market and even lifestyle goals. With a well-planned business strategy in place you’ll be one step closer to getting where you want to be and running the business the way you originally dreamed about.
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