Most business owners know they should prepare a strategic plan but seldom follow through because they are too busy working "in" their business (as opposed to “on” their business) or because they don't know how to prepare a strategic plan.
A strategic plan is a document that captures your thoughts, vision, and objectives on how you want to make money. It will give you, your current employees, and future employees direction when making business decisions.
Strategic Plan vs an Action Plan
A strategic plan is usually a short document that talks about your current business, your future business, and 4-7 key strategy statements critical to your business success. A separate document, called an Action Plan, contains the information on "how" you will accomplish what is in your strategic plan.
Three Parts to a Strategic Plan
* Part one includes your business mission, vision, and values.
* Part two looks at your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; commonly referred to as a SWOT analysis.
* Part three creates the 4-7 key strategy statements to map how you will attain your goals.
* Craft your Mission Statement.
* Create your Vision Statement.
* Define your values in a Value Statement. It is important that you are committed to the values that you write down, as they are the basis for your company culture.
* Conduct a SWOT Analysis.
Opportunity and threats to your company deal with the environment influences outside of your company and outside of your direct control.
List 1-4 opportunities and 1-4 of your company's external threats to be proactive, determine which need to be prioritized, and used to your advantage or to have plans developed if/when a particular situation arises.
Consider the best or worse case scenarios if, while operating your business, the following changes occur: your business environment changes (political, legal, environmental, social or technical), if the industry that your business is in changes (new competitors, alternative products), the market changes (grows, gets smaller, new markets), or something happens with your competitors (what's their strategies, strengths, weaknesses?).
* Determine the top 4-7 Key Strategies.
These strategies will help achieve your company vision. To create these strategies, refer to your mission and vision statements to answer: How will I achieve my vision looking at where I am (products & services, people, resources, environment, etc.)? What do I need to be doing today to achieve this vision?
Look at your weakness list. Are these things preventing you from growing a stronger, more profitable business? Do they need to be addressed as a strategic statement?
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