The SCORE online workshop, “Creating a Strategic Plan,” examines the importance of strategic plans for small businesses. The webinar identifies critical components such as developing a mission statement and evaluating current operations to determine your goals.
Strategic plan vs. business plan
A business plan focuses on the viability of a company. You must investigate the market and establish realistic financial goals to create a business plan.
A strategic plan is more conceptual and dynamic, and it serves as a roadmap for your small business to reach its goals. It allows you to gauge your company’s performance, strengths and weaknesses over time. By revisiting the plan regularly, you can analyze and update marketing, sales, product development, operational and revenue goals to achieve your desired results.
Write your mission statement
The first step is to write your company mission statement. The statement will answer the following questions:
1. What is your small business? What type of organization are you creating?
2. What are your products or services?
3. What are your target markets?
4. Who is your ideal client?
5. Who is your ideal employee? What are the desired skills in team members?
6. What are your long-term goals?
To create or update your strategic plan, evaluate current operations. You want to “take inventory” of your business and see where you’re heading, what’s working and what’s not.
Focus on the following five areas to determine the state of your small business:
1. Your Clients: Who are your current customers? How would you describe your relationships with them? Who are your prospective customers? How can you attract them?
2. Your Products or Services: What are your products/services? How are they unique? What are their benefits? Which are not selling well? What are your plans for the underperformers? Do you hear any frequent requests from customers?
3. Your Financial Performance: After reviewing past financial statements, are your sales growing? What is one thing you could change to improve performance? How can you achieve that goal?
4. Your Operations: Is your business running smoothly? Do employees complain about ineffective processes? How can you streamline operations? Are there affordable technological solutions?
5. Your Competitive Edge: What makes your company unique? Consider your culture, location, resources, staff, technology and pricing.
6. Your Environment: What external factors, such as investors, influence your business? Who are your competitors? How do they affect your business?
Determine and implement goals
After this in-depth study, you will notice potential areas of improvement. Pick your top 3 or 4 feasible goals. Goals are either qualitative, such as provide better customer service, or quantitative, such as increase profits by 5%. They are usually focused on general performance, financial performance, operations and deadlines.
With your list of objectives in hand, how will you achieve them? A good technique to examine the best solutions is a scenario analysis. This entails asking “if-then” questions—if I change X, then what is the outcome? You and your team can perform a scenario analysis of each action and write the possible outcomes. These techniques will guide you to create your new strategic plan.