I know what you are probably thinking . . . what the heck is a strategic plan, why do I even need one, or why should I prioritize a strategic plan when I am already juggling 10 other things right now? I’m here to tell you why! You need a strategic plan in your business just like you need directions to get to your destination when you embark on a road trip. Without the directions, you are guessing at every turn and have no idea where you are going or when you are going to get there.
Your strategic plan is your roadmap in your business. Your strategic plan lays out where you want to go, how you are going to get there and timeline to reach that destination.
While the term “strategic plan” may seem overwhelming to small business owners and like it is only useful in corporate offices, I’m here to tell you it’s for you too! We are going to break down the different aspects of a strategic plan and to create your own strategic plan so you can start outlining where your business is going to go and how you’re going to get it there. We are going to focus on a simple strategic plan today, but know it can be as complex as you make it!
What is a strategic plan?
Indeed.com defines a strategic plan as “a process used by organizations to identify their goals, the strategies necessary to accomplish those goals and the internal performance management system used to monitor and evaluate progress.”
Let’s break down the individual pieces of a basic strategic plan.
Examples may include build brand awareness, develop brand loyalty, grow market shares, boost sales, increase brand exposure and engagement on [x], etc. This is one of our overall goals.
After we have determined our objectives, we will break those down into measurable, concretely defined goals. I highly recommend using the SMART Goal format to make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant and time-bound. For more information on how to write SMART goals, check out this informative article from Atlassian.com
Actions and Metrics
This is the spot that we will outline the steps needed to accomplish the goal. These should be actionable steps that can be assigned to a specific person or department.
We highly recommend following these steps with assigning the individual tasks to an owner (who is responsible for the task), setting a deadline for the completion of the task, and tracking the progress of the task.
Setting a target date (or deadline) is extremely important in accomplishing all of your goals. Laying out the timeline of what goals you are working on when will allow you to be more productive because you know what you need to accomplish and in what order it needs to be accomplished. Like any aspect of a small business, nothing ever goes perfectly according to plan, but that’s okay! Plans are made to be tweaked. Having an outlined timeline will help you move towards your goals, but the timeline can always be tweaked. Just remember to be realistic with yourself and set timelines that are achievable and realistic.
We have an easy-to-use strategic plan template available here if you need some help formatting your plan.
While many businesses find it helpful to work on a strategic plan at the end of the year for the upcoming year, it is never too late to start planning. Get your goals down on paper and start working towards them today! Do you currently use a strategic plan? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts on strategic planning.
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