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What Does Strategic Planning Mean?

Do you have a strategic plan for your business? Are you struggling to see the big picture while focusing on managing the day-to-day tasks? I urge you to take some time with your team to set clear goals and create a strategy that will take your business further as we enter into third quarter.

What is Strategic Planning? Think of it as strategic thinking + execution planning. Organize your management and leadership efforts to set priorities, strengthen operations, create goals and assess what needs to change. Create a clear, simple plan by thinking strategically about your company’s values, purpose, competencies, and promises, and then allocate your resources to fulfill those directives realistically.

Keep your strategic plan simple. Here are seven questions you and your team must answer to build a realistic strategic plan:

Where Are We Now?
To begin strategic thinking (strategic planning), you must have a clear understanding of your current business. Gather information both internally and externally on what is both progressing and needing improvement regarding your company’s current state (think SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Base your strategic thinking on data and facts, not opinions and the thoughts of those involved in the planning process. Your situation analysis will act as a starting point to identify shortcomings and act as a benchmark to compare upcoming success.

What Is Our Direction?
While your current problems and challenges show the need for adjustments, having a clear direction for your company’s future will dictate the whole strategic thinking process. You can’t get to where you want to go unless you know where you want to go! What are your one year goals? Where do you envision your company in three years? What is your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Defining your long-term goals for growth and success will act as a temporary “finish line,” and help you to begin formulating what it will take to execute your strategic plan.

What Are Our Obstacles?
What currently stands in the way between where you are now and where you want to be? Identify the challenges your business currently faces, as well as challenges it may encounter in the future. By identifying your biggest, scariest obstacles, you’ll be prepared for the foreseeable “worst case scenarios.” Adapt your strategic plan according to the hurdles your organization will have to jump, and create innovative strategies to overcome the challenges in your way.

What Are Our Resources?
After identifying your direction and the obstacles that come with it, determine what you will need to execute your plan. What resources do you already have to help achieve it? What resources do you need? By identifying strengths your company already has to overcome its obstacles, you can better tailor your strategy with your organization’s resources in mind. Resources include financial, man power, structure and time.

What Are Our Priorities?
We have thought strategically, now it’s time for execution planning! In order to plan for execution, you must be clear on our 2-4 priorities that must be accomplished to achieve your one year or short term goals. Have debate and discussion to determine the most important areas of our business to have the entire organization focus on. Each priority should have one owner that will guide and be held accountable for the progress and success of the priority. The priorities may address the obstacles (internally or externally), while helping us achieve our goals.

What Are Our Specific Actions?
With your strategy guiding you towards the results you have in mind, identify specific actions with timelines and designate who will “own” what actions. Ensure that every team member has a 90 day action plan with clear outcomes they are responsible for. Action plans should answer the question: “Who’s going to do what by when?” Create clear steps that will ultimately lead to reaching your goals.

What Will We Monitor and Measure?
What is your one number you will watch every single day that will tell you if you are moving closer to your goal or not? Choose an actionable number vs. a result. For example, how many dollars of orders must we get each day to reach our revenue target or how many new prospect meetings must we have each week based on our conversion rate to accomplish our revenue target? The only way to get a different result is to improve your actions. Focus every day on the right actions that create the best results.

By asking yourself these seven questions, you will not only build a strong understanding of where your business currently stands, but you’ll also create a realistic plan for your organization’s future and a living and breathing step-by-step guide that will take you there.

Remember strategic thinking and execution planning.

Download the one page strategic plan through the Gazelles Growth Tools to help you bring additional clarity. Keep scaling up!