Strategic Business Planning 101

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English: Strategic planning barnstar received ...
English: Strategic planning barnstar received today from WMF. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Q: What do successful companies have in common?

A: They identify what works, find opportunities for growth and then strategically decide the best path to achieve their goals, which includes developing a written action plan to implement strategies. 

These top companies take time to develop and update their strategic business plan every year. They get their management team out of the office for an uninterrupted one- or two-day retreat facilitated by a professional strategic planning facilitator or business coach.

They end with a formalized written plan that offers a roadmap for the next three years complete with goals, targets, strategies, accountable managers and deadlines. On a monthly and quarterly basis, their management teams will have a blueprint to follow and update as they implement and complete each strategy. To get started with your strategic planning process, follow these steps.

Purpose and Goals

Before starting the strategic planning process, all business owners and stockholders must know the purpose of their business to get on the same page and build a solid business plan. Then, develop your mission statement, which should be a concise sentence or short paragraph that clearly outlines your business purpose, what your business does best, how your business operates and your ideal customers, products and services.

After determining the purpose, all owners must establish what they want to accomplish over the next three to five years. Think about products, services, size, number of locations, projects, customers, revenue, sales, investments, profits, equity, organizational structure, market area, management team, employees, overhead, operations, equipment and stock ownership.

Key Success Factors

Next, make a list of important tasks and milestones your company must achieve to succeed. To build a five-year plan, make several assumptions about the future of your marketplace and business opportunities in your area. Consider the economy, your customers and customer selection criteria, competition, potential revenue, pricing trends, changes in contract methods, key personnel, qualified workforce, financial conditions, technology and any other changes.

Threats and Opportunities

As you build your strategic business plan, look objectively at external threats and challenges that currently affect your progress, and anticipate future challenges—such as inflation, a recession, tougher regulations or additional competition entering your marketplace. Also, identify future business opportunities, additional revenue sources and new services you could provide.

Strengths and weaknesses

Make a list of what works well in your company to help you focus on what needs to be improved. Create a list of your strengths and weaknesses.

Set goals to develop your strengths. Take advantage of new and exciting business opportunities. For example, match your strong business development program and loyal customers to increase your service business division.

Complete your goal-setting session by examining your weaknesses to develop targets and strategies to improve your company in all areas.

Manager Input

The management team must be able to share their ideas and comments in an open and non-judgmental forum. Everyone must be treated equally, and all ideas should be considered. Managers and key employees often hold back their suggestions when the business owner facilitates these sessions. Encourage managers to share their thoughts. Investing in a neutral facilitator will help with this and can provide the biggest return on your time and money.

Too often, weak leaders postpone making strategic decisions. A strategic planning retreat provides the perfect time to establish a consensus on new strategies, changes, tough decisive actions and directions.

Once you receive all feedback from your team, you must make the final decisions. Every team member must follow the decisions you have made without complaints or compromise.

Implementation

The most important part of the strategic planning process is achieving the goals you want to accomplish. Prioritize the goals, assign a responsible key manager to manage each goal, and set a deadline for implementing and completing each goal.

Encourage managers to pick team members who will help them develop action plans. Also, select a regular monthly company strategic planning meeting date to review the progress on each goal.

Stay focused on the big picture, make your managers accountable, and work together as a team to make your business work the way you want it to.

Read more at Strategic Business Planning 101 | Construction Business Owner Magazine.

About Kelly Business Advisors, LLC

Early in his career John started-up and sold 7 years later a Moving and Storage Company in Milwaukee. He acquired and was President of Kelly Pickle Company f/k/a Bond Pickle Company, in Oconto, WI for 12 years. Built a monthly round-table networking group of manufactures in Oconto. Developed marketing plans, sales plans, products and implemented lean manufacturing practices with many North American companies. Worked with non-profits as both a front line leader and behind the scenes. He is active in his church, a member of the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce,Business Networkers International (BNI) and now is joining the Green Bay Downtown Rotary.

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