Having a definitive strategy in place is critical for small businesses. This will define the plans you, as a small business owner, have in mind for moving from where you are currently to where you would like to be in the near future and beyond. From a more strategic standpoint, you should articulate your business strategies. This articulation is vital to having the ability to make decisions, assess your business’ progress and prioritize.
It’s unfortunate that the classic approach to strategizing and planning generally fails to work well for small businesses. Traditional textbook methods that are always designed for larger corporate business settings are not appropriate for small business plans and forecasting. Therefore, the use of the wrong strategic planning methods will only create confusion and frustration for small business owners, leaving them with wasted effort, resources and time.
We would like to offer some experienced advice with regard to what may be the correct amount of strategic planning for your small business. Almost every company begins as a small business. The owners of this company have had their share of struggles, making mistakes in the planning phases and have witnessed the results with many small business owners, who have made poor decisions, used poor planning methods and experienced confusion when things just don’t go as expected.
Hence, this post, in hopes we will be able to provide small business owners simple, effective process ideas so that they may perform a higher quality of strategic planning. We would like to assist business owners in avoiding common mistakes allowing them to set their sights on concrete planning in ways that will provide effective strategic planning results.
Where and How Strategic Planning Can Take a Wrong Turn for Small Businesses
It’s very important to understand that avoiding strategic planning altogether is your number one mistake. You don’t need a 50-page plan as would a large corporation, but you do need a plan.
On the other hand, another mistake that small business owners make is over-planning. If you over-plan your strategy, it’s likely that you will place far more time and energy into your planning process than you’ll ever receive in results. This generally occurs when the small business owner attempts to follow processes that are not designed for small businesses but for larger corporate organizations. These plans are far more complex to address and are not needed in the small business planning processes. This will only lead to the development of a small business plan that is far more than what is required for success.
You’re Over-Planning If:
- You’re Working to Create a Marketing Document – Now is not the time to attempt to impress others. You are not going to publish to a large group of shareholders. Opportunities to mark your brand will come later. The time now should focus on an internal strategy that will guide your business’ leadership team.
- You’re “Long Term” Planning – Your small business is just that, small. These long-term plans are generally developed by large corporations who are strategically planning for 3 to 5 years in business. You will not have adequate information to advance that far into the future of your small business. There will be frequent changes and therefore you will require frequent adjustments. Small businesses should consider a more realistic 3 to 6-month plan as this is far more manageable in the small business world.
- You’re seeking perfection – Avoid this trap at all costs. You’ll only find yourself caught on the endless carousel of revisions and wasted time consumption.
What Is Actually Needed in a Small Business Strategic Plan
The strategy plans for a small business environment only require addressing a few things in order to be meaningful as well as effective.
A few things will be needed to build the bridge between now and your future business:
- A clear understanding of where your business is currently – You need to have a good idea of where the business is on its current journey so that you may establish a baseline. This will assist you in planning what will happen next.
- A description of vision, intention, and purpose for the future of your business – The purpose and intention is critical as it will serve as the foundation of your business plan. This is where you and your team will draw from while planning marketing and solutions.
- Take a few steps that will help you in building that bridge between now and the future of your business – Think about short-term commitment. Consider specifically designed actions that will move the business in the direction of its purpose. This will help you remain aligned and focused. This will also help minimize any unnecessary distractions.
Three Step Small Business Development Strategy –
If you’re only beginning this process you’ll require several hours of planning with the members of your leadership team. Should you already have a solid statement in place, you’ll have the ability to do some collaborating with your team within a few hours. If you’re just too busy for a sit down of any kind, work incrementally with your team leaders a few hours at a time.
Here are the steps needed:
- Begin With a SWOT and/or TOWS Assessment – Along with your leadership team, evaluate your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Once all team leaders have completed the analysis, attempt to bring forward 3 to 5 strategic situations that may seem to stand above the rest and address them. Save your results, you may have a need to revisit them later.
- State Your Mission – It doesn’t have to be fancy, once sentence will do, but make it a good sentence.
- Plan Your Journey Using S.M.A.R.T Goals – This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Create your goals to ensure that each goal is created with all of these aspects in mind.
It’s Time to Begin Your Action Plan
You and your leadership team are now in a position to develop a plan for your small business that will be an effective strategy that can fit on a couple of pages. You will have created the foundational parts needed that will provide consensus, alignment and focus on your small business and its leaders.
Be certain when it’s possible to hand responsibilities of all of the goals to your leaders to encourage ownership and commitment. Make adjustments as you need them by revisiting your plan frequently. This will allow you to make a clear assessment of the progress being made. You may wish to continue to repeat the planning process annually, semi-annually, quarterly or monthly.
Keep in mind that business situations will change. Be prepared to adjust accordingly as you’re going forward.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: