Creating a strategic plan
A strategic plan can help any business to succeed. There are a lot of different ideas out there for how to create the perfect strategic plan, and each of them have merit in some way or another. However, the perfect strategic plan can't be made from a template. It is unique to your business, your goals, and your available resources, and thus should be created with each of these things in mind.
If you want a great strategic plan, you basically have to answer three questions:
- Where are you now?
- Where are you going?
- How will you get there?
If answered properly, you will have the outline to a strategic plan with great objectives, and a clear path to follow. Let's take a closer look at each of these three questions:
- Where are you now? This is a questions that makes you look inward at how your company is really doing. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your opportunities? What are your threats? What is the current industry trends? What are the current market conditions? Who are you targeting? How is that going? You have to create some reports and fish out some data, which you then interpret to determine how you are doing in the scheme of things.
- Where are you going? This is often the easiest as well as the most difficult questions to answer. It is easy to say that in five years from now I want to be at the top of my industry, or have this or that much in annual revenue. However, the realist in us all often puts a damper on our dreams and makes us think that it is not possible, so we won't own up to where we really want to be. Get specific, and think big, but keep the resources and time you have available to you in perspective.
- How will you get there? At this point you have your starting point and your ending point, and it is time to fill in the middle. What steps need to be taken? What objectives have to be met? How long do you have? To make your strategic plan of value, not just something that sits on a shelf, you have to create a set of action steps that help lead you to your final destination. These need to consist of measurable goals that are specific. Set up a timeline, and plot out when each objective should be accomplished, and what things you will do to get you there on time. For example, if you want to improve your client base by 20 new customers a week, you would break that down to 4 a day. Break those goals down so that they are smaller, more achievable steps.
If you can do these three things, and take the time to answer these questions thoroughly, you will find that your strategic plan becomes a roadmap for business growth and success.
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