The Basics of Strategic Planning 

Strategic planning is a process where you develop strategies to accomplish specific goals for your company. 

It’s important because it gives your organization a sense of direction, structure to attain those goals, and is vital for realizing your company’s potential. 

Coming up with a strategic plan can seem overwhelming, and it has a lot of moving parts. In this article, we break down the process for you to develop a plan that can serve as an overall guide for your company and your employees. 

The steps you go through with strategic planning will determine your vision, mission, and how you’ll get to where you want to be.  

It’s important to note that strategic planning isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Every company has its own set of unique needs, and it might be appropriate to go with a simple style of planning or a complex structure with multiple layers. It’s up to you and your leadership team to decide which plan is best for you. 

A few things you’ll want to ask yourself and your team when developing your strategic plan are: 

  • What do we believe about how we do business?
  • What is our brand promise or differentiator? 
  • How did we get to where we are now? 
  • What has worked in the past? What hasn’t? 
  • Which direction do we want to go? What does the ideal future look like for my company?
  • What steps do I/we need to take to get there? Who will be involved in the process? 
  • How will we monitor progress and reinforce accountability?

Aside from considering these questions and reviewing your company’s mission and vision, you’ll want to perform a SWOT analysis. 

SWOT analysis is a technique used in the strategic planning process to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It helps to use external and internal data to guide your business towards successful strategies and eliminate ones that have been less effective. 

Let’s take a closer look at each element: 

Strengths – When discussing strengths, it’s important to determine your competitive advantage, and resources. Perhaps you have a strong brand, or maybe your company has loyal customers. Ask yourself – what does your company excel at that makes you stand out from competitors?

Weaknesses – What areas can your business improve in? What is preventing your business from performing at the maximum level? How can you eliminate these weaknesses? 

Opportunities – What opportunities are open to your company? What can you take advantage of? What trends are you seeing in your industry? Perhaps you can turn your strengths into opportunities? 

Threats –  Threats are anything that can negatively impact your business. A few things to ask when considering threats are: what are your competitors doing well? What are some consumer trends that can threaten your business? What threats could harm your business? 

SWOT analysis is useful for determining your businesses’ present state before finding a new strategy. Keep in mind that your SWOT analysis should be used in combination with other strategies to provide you with a thorough understanding of the situation you’re dealing with. 

After your SWOT analysis, you are ready to formulate and execute your strategic plan. You’ll have to constantly monitor your progress to measure how well your company is adhering to the plan. It’s crucial to implement a timeframe to follow so there is a sense of urgency. It will also help you measure your goals. 

In conclusion, when it comes to strategic planning, there is no such thing as a perfect format to follow. Strategic plans can have anywhere from three to seven steps. Most important are the major points outlined below: 

  1. SWOT Analysis.
  2. Gather all the information you need to consider what could hinder your process, or any other relevant factors you should consider before execution. 
  3. Identify short and long term objectives along with how you will achieve them. 
  4. Develop your plan that takes into account all the information you gathered from step 2. This is a good time to develop a timeframe as well. 
  5. Execute your plan. This includes mobilizing your resources, effective communication, and leading change. 
  6. Monitor progress and review, revise or refocus as necessary. 

If you want more advice on how to develop your strategic plan, please contact us. We can advise you on how to efficiently and effectively allocate your time and resources to come up with the plan that best suits your needs. 

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