Craft a Strategic Plan, Make Time to Revisit It
By Bridget Weston Pollack
When preparing for the future of your business, you should be aware of the importance of strategic plans to help keep your business on track.
A strategic plan is conceptual and dynamic. It serves as a road map for your business to reach its goals. It allows you to gauge performance, strengths and weaknesses over time.
The first step is to write your company mission statement. It can range from a sentence to multiple paragraphs, but it should convey your purpose to customers, employees and the community.
Set Aside Time to Re-evaluate
Periodically, take inventory of your business and see where you’re heading, what’s working and what’s not. When re-evaluating your plan, focus on the following six areas:
Who are your current customers? How would you describe your relationships with them? Who are your prospective customers? How can you attract them?
Develop new products for your ideal customers, discover new ways to connect to customers or change up your marketing efforts.
Products or Services
What are your products and services? How are they unique? What are their benefits? What is not selling well? What are your plans for the underperformers? Do you hear any frequent requests from customers?
Determine what products or services should stay in your lineup, which should leave and what you can add to create a better experience for customers.
Your Financial Performance
After reviewing past financial statements, are your sales growing? What is one thing you could change to improve performance? How can you achieve that goal?
Take a close look at your sales to determine where you can increase revenue or cut back on expenses in order to create a better return on investment.
Is your business running smoothly? Do employees complain about ineffective processes? How can you streamline operations? Are there affordable technological solutions?
Talk to your employees about ways the business can be streamlined. Creating a better work environment often leads to happier, more productive employees.
Your Competitive Edge
What makes your company unique? Consider your culture, location, resources, staff, technology and pricing.
Discover what makes your company stand out and use those qualities to showcase why your company is so special.
What external factors, such as investors, influence your business? Who are your competitors? How do they affect your business?
Knowing what outside factors can influence your business changes how you do business. Recognize when competitors are doing something unique and stay ahead of the curve.
Determine and Implement Goals
After creating or re-evaluating your plan, you will notice potential areas of improvement. Pick your top three or four feasible goals.
Goals are either qualitative, such as provide better customer service, or quantitative, such as increase profits by 5%. They are usually focused on general performance, financial performance, operations and deadlines.
With your list of objectives in hand, determine how you will achieve them. A good technique to examine the best solutions is a scenario analysis.
This entails asking “if-then” questions: If I change X, then what is the outcome?
You and your team can perform a scenario analysis of each action and write the possible outcomes. These techniques will guide you to create your new strategic plan.
The author, Bridget Weston Pollack, is the vice president of marketing and strategy at the Score Association.
Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.