In a difficult times, it is natural for organizations to focus more closely on achieving revenue requirements and critical objectives and to place business planning on the “back burner.” If these reactive periods continue over an extended period of time, inefficiencies and missed opportunities can ensue; not to mention exhaustion. Taking a few hours with your team to compare the business plan to current market conditions permits necessary correction to the plan and reinvigorates morale. The plan review can uncover insights, such as:
- Changes in the competitive landscape
- Opportunities to extend offerings by integrating complementary products and value-added services
- Identify investments that can improve competitiveness, responsiveness to customers, or profitability
Taking your eye off the strategic issues can move an organization from challenging times to challenges that may be difficult to recover from.
The previous comments assume an organization has a business plan. Small business leaders often operate without a formal written plan. While many business leaders are skilled enough to steer the business without a formal plan, these leaders are forfeiting opportunities to engage their employees with a planning process. Diminished employee engagement will weaken management systems and hinder initiative.
The key elements of a strategic plan are:
- A Five-Year (or longer) Vision for the Business
- Market Trends and Competitive Analysis
- Strengths and Weaknesses of the Business (as perceived by the customer)
- Market Opportunities and Threats
- Growth Strategies (including organization measures and objectives)
- Specific, Measurable Action Plans
The Action Plan is the most critical piece of the plan. These plans align employee efforts, reflect progress, and move accountability to the lowest level possible in the organization.
As the year wraps up, take a minute to understand why you achieved your level of results and discuss with your organization the best plan forward.