More often than not, entrepreneurs run their business by ‘reacting’ to their inbox. Don’t fall into that trap. Take control of your business; don’t let it control you. Trying to run a business without a conscious, strategic plan leads to chaos. Learning by trial and error will cost you a lot of time, energy and money.
Even if you think you know where you are going, it is difficult — I might even say “impossible” — to achieve maximum success without a documented strategic plan.
Having a documented strategic plan empowers you to:
- Get clear about the vision you have for your company
- Identify the steps required to make your vision a reality
- Work from a place of being proactive instead of reactive
- Make informed, confident decisions about your business
- Save time figuring out what you should be focused on
Even if you have had a strategic plan in the past, you will need to create a new one each year. Before you do that, however, it’s important to take time to revisit your vision for the upcoming year. Don’t assume it will be the same as the vision you had for the previous year. It may have changed, or it may need to change based on a variety of reasons. Once you are clear about your vision, take the time to review the previous year’s accomplishments and take note of where you didn’t reach your goals and the challenges you encountered. Then, build your new plan by looking at each section with a fresh perspective.
There are 2 parts to a strategic plan.
Part 1 is the WHAT part of your plan: What is the current reality of your business and what is your future vision?
At a minimum, part 1 should include a review of your previous year’s accomplishments, your brand positioning, your values, your current business challenges, your product roadmap, the systems you have, the sales and strategic goals you want to accomplish over the next year and a key performance indicator (KPI) for each goal. KPIs are used to measure success. How will you know when you accomplished each of your goals? Identify a KPI for each one, then you’ll know.
Part 2 maps out the steps for HOW you are going to make the future vision of your company a reality.
At a minimum, part 2 includes your organizational structure (current and future), infrastructure needs (tools and rules) – based on the systems you identified in Part 1, your tactics for your strategic goals and your marketing strategy and tactics for your sales goals. Tactics are the specific actions you are going to take to accomplish the goal(s) you have identified.
Once you have identified all of your tactics, use them to build out your calendar, ideally in a project management tool. Wherever you track and manage your tasks and tactics, be sure to include the owner of each and a deadline, at a minimum and review them regularly. Ask each task owner to give an update in your weekly team meetings about where they are at with their specific tactics/tasks. If you are a Solopreneur, I would recommend reviewing your tasks/tactics with an accountability coach. You will use your budget and cashflow to help you determine what tactics you can execute and when.
The best time to create a strategic plan for the upcoming year is in October. By that time, you have a good idea how the current year is going to turn out, make the necessary adjustments and hit the ground running in January. If you haven’t done one yet, you still have time to get started now!