You may recall the book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” originally written in 1865 by Lewis Carroll. The story relates the tale of a young girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world.
In the book, Alice is walking along a road and comes to a junction in the road. There she sees the Cheshire Cat sitting in the tree limbs and asks, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” The cat responds, “That depends a good deal on where you want to go.” Alice retorts, “I don’t much care where.” Whereupon the cat pronounces, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” Alice continues, “…so long as I get somewhere.” “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
So it is with running a business. You’ll surely get somewhere if you walk or work long enough, but if you know where you are going; if you have a plan, then you will get where you want to go.
Why Does My Small Business Need a Strategic Plan?
It has been said that a goal without a plan is only a dream. A plan provides substance and momentum to drive the motion of your organization towards your goals. Do all organizations need a strategic plan? Yes–companies large and small. While the depth and complexity of the plans will differ based on business size, a strategic business plan can have as much value to a small business as one does to General Motors or Bank of America, for example.
The 8 Steps
Here are 8 tips for successful strategic planning. The key is to make this process a priority.
1) “Know thyself”
A good understanding of what your business is and what you really want to accomplish is paramount in the planning process. Know what you offer. Know what your competitive advantages are. Define carefully who your customers are.
2 ) Clearly identify your important goals
You should have a general longer-term view, such as 3-5 years, along with a much more concrete 1-year view. Make your goal statements specific, not something like “better than last year,” for example.
3) Know where you stand
Make sure you know where you stand today in terms of operating performance. Review competition.
4) Involve your team members in the planning
Their involvement will increase buy-in, commitment and performance.
5) Look at your resources
Can you accomplish your goals based on your staffing and on your budgets? If not, adjust.
What obstacles do you face? Are there key “hurdles” that you have to overcome to achieve your goals?
Plan your execution to align with your goals. This is another key reason to involve team members.
8) How far have you come?
Measure your progress. Report your progress.