Even a team-of-one benefits from strategic planning because strategic planning is about creating a road map for your business.
If you were taking a real road trip, you'd always start by knowing two things: a) where you are and b) what your end destination is. From there you'd plan everything you want to do and see along the way. That's the same basic principle used when conducting strategic planning for a business.
Where to start with strategic planning
It's important to take a deep, honest look at where things are at right now. To consider your strengths as well as any current challenges and roadblocks.
Then it's time to focus in on where you are heading. No matter where you are in your business lifecycle, you need to be clear about your goals, both short and long term.
It's also important to consider why you want to get there. When you're focused on the day-to-day effort of running a small business, it can be surprisingly easy to lose sight of why you’re doing it - but it’s the why that drives you to achieve those goals.
Once it's clear a) where you are and b) what you're striving to achieve, then look at how to get from a) to b). By working through how to leverage strengths and overcome challenges and roadblocks in order to achieve the end goal, you create a plan - or a road map - that you can follow.
Why strategic planning helps small businesses
This map becomes the lens that you filter most of your business decisions through. It keeps you focused on doing things that drive results. Whether it’s a new idea or growth strategy, a cost-cutting solution or a marketing concept, decision making is much easier when you ask questions such as “is this in line with my strategy” and “will this help me get closer to achieving my goals”.
There are always so many things you can be doing. Strategy gives you the ability to say no to ideas that don’t serve the bigger picture. Whether they are great ideas or not, if they aren’t in line with your strategy they only distract you from achieving your goals, and without a strategic plan it’s likely you’ll waste time and money on those unnecessary and ineffective ideas.
The bottom line: Strategy does require an investment in time, and as many small businesses need help to formulate it, it is likely to require some financial investment as well. But having a good strategic plan saves money, time and stress in the long run, and for small businesses owners in particular, it can also help you maintain a decent work-life balance.
Would you plan a road trip without knowing where you are going?
Author: Pip Mehrtens | August 2020