Strategic planning is critical to business success. Different from classic business planning, the strategic variety involves vision, mission and outside-of-the-box thinking. Strategic planning describes where you want your company to go, not necessarily how you’re going to get there. However, like all other “travel plans,” without knowing where you want to go, creating details on how to arrive are meaningless. Strategic planning defines the “where” that your company is heading.
Often confused with business operation plans, strategic plans are expressions of ownership dreams and visions of successful results. Strategic planning functions as the “design” just as a blueprint functions as the “how” to build something. The strategic plan displays the finished product or goal. Usually, in smaller businesses, strategic planning is focused on the overall company, not on a department or division.
Unlike business plans, there is no one right way to create effective strategic planning. It is, by definition, brainstorming at its best. Strategic planning involves “feel” just as much as it depends on management science. Since it depends on creativity and outside-the-box thinking, there is no perfect way to design a winning strategic plan. The more you understand your company, your industry, and your corporate “wish list,” the better a winning strategic plan you’ll create.
Use SWOT Analysis
A SWOT — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — analysis is a wonderful way to prepare for developing a strategic plan. Identifying these four critical components of your company existence is often the primary building block of strategic plans. Many Fortune 500 companies use SWOT analyzes as the basis of their strategic planning activities. You can use this technique as the foundation for strategic goals for your smaller business just as effectively.
Strategies Equal Methods
Envisioning goals and then defining strategies you’ll embrace to achieve your objectives is the true essence of strategic planning. Easy to overlook in a smaller business, strategic thinking identifies the methods you will take to reach your goals. For example, if you believe you must expand your e-commerce function to achieve increased sales volume, you’ve also identified the method to use your strategy and reach company goals. Save the specific steps and components for your business plan. By selecting the strategy, you have defined the method to employ in your detailed specifications in your business plan.
Strategy Defines Action
As critical as business planning is to the success of your company, all plans are useless unless followed by action. An additional side benefit of strategic planning is the natural action plan that stems from identifying your preferred strategy. While strategic planning involves your vision, mission and dreams, it also further defines the rudiments of your action plan to achieve the results you want. For example, if you adopt a strategy of increasing business-to-business — B2B — revenue, you’ve also identified a basic action plan.