Strategic planning is the process of laying out your goals for the far future of your company and then mapping out the specific steps it will take to reach those goals. A strategic plan has a set timeline, specific actions and checkpoints, and is measurable by key metrics. So why is this more valuable to your business than a standard list of SMART goals, or action steps for this quarter? Take a look at the three reasons below. They explain why strategic planning does more for your business
See beyond the Problems of Today
As a Business Owner, most of your day is spent on emerging problems. Tackling those urgent issues is vital to day-to-day operations, but it can make it very hard to see past the problems of today. Taking time away from those everyday issues to focus on creating a strategic plan brings clarity and focus. Then, beyond the strategic planning session with your team, you will have a document to look back over, and specific steps to measure when it feels like you are buried under tasks and can’t see the way forward. Imagine going on a long car trip without a map, that is essentially the way you have been running your business without a strategic plan. You are making decisions on a turn by turn basis and perhaps even going in a circle, or moving backward. The strategic plan is the map for your business that you can refer back to each and every time things get hazy in the day-to-day struggle.
Answers the Question of HOW Things Will Happen:
It’s relatively easy to come up with a list of goals for your company for 1 year- 5 years- and 10 years down the road. But actually making those goals happen is a completely different story. In the past when you have set goals without a strategic plan one of two things probably happened. You either 1) didn’t reach them, or otherwise forgot about them or 2) you reached one or more of your goals but couldn’t at the end of the year, point to what made it successful, and therefore couldn’t repeat the success the next year. This is the question that a well-formed strategic plan answers, “HOW?” Without that answer you will be in the same position as previous years, randomly taking action when you remember, never with a focus or specific strategy, and with no way to replicate and success you might stumble across. To use the road trip analogy from the last point, having a strategic plan is the difference between just saying “I want to travel from NYC to Miami” and getting turn by turn instructions for driving from New York to Miami. When questions arise you will be able to look back at your strategic plan for guidance on what step needs to happen next to achieve the goal.
Gives a Direction and Focus that Can be Communicated Company-Wide:
If you have ever had difficulty communicating your goals and direction to your employees then you will know how important this factor is. It’s all well and good for you, the business owner, to know where you are steering the company, but if your team doesn’t understand, they could be pulling in the opposite direction, or not moving at all. Just like it’s easy for you to get bogged down by day-to-day activities, it is easy for your team to do the same. Without a clear, concise and actionable vision from you and the company’s leaders, you can’t expect employees to understand where it is you are heading. Make sure that you involve everyone who has a key role to play in the strategic planning process itself. Also be sure to communicate to those key players that it is their responsibility to communicate to their smaller teams and direct reports EXACTLY what the plan involves. Give your team members as much detail as possible to help them really grasp what you are trying to accomplish and how. When everyone understands the goals, the mission, and the steps to get there, your moving power will be exponentially increased.
Strategic Planning Requires Attention
If you want to grow your business, then you need to do strategic planning. But like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. If you make strategic planning a priority and if you give it the time and attention it needs to really become a developed and comprehensive plan, then it will give you the sense of direction, the guidance and the cohesiveness that your company desperately needs to reach its goals. The strategic plan is THE way to long-term, sustainable success.