How to Develop a Business Strategic Plan

Building a business strategic plan does not need to be complicated, but there are fundamental decisions that must be made. Strategy requires making clear trade-offs, deciding what the organization will pursue as goals and what it will not pursue. Trade-offs include everything from deciding in which products to invest to which type of employees to hire to which market niches to pursue while excluding others. The enemies of a good strategy are distraction from established goals and compromising the quality of work produced. The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. Strategy is about identifying what works in moving the organization forward to meet its goals and then, exploiting that process. In companies with good strategies, the activities complement one another in ways that create economic value.

Developing a business strategic plan can appear to be a daunting task, but if you dissect the larger task into smaller increments, it’s easier to complete. Here’s a useful five-step approach.

  1. Determine your current situation. Take your time, be honest and try to stay as objective as possible. Some people prefer to view themselves according to how they WANT to exist in the current situation, not how they actually appear to others. For an accurate picture of where your business is, analyze both how your business competes in the external environment and how your business interacts with employees. This will give a clearer understanding of the business environment and the employees’ skill sets
  2. Identify what matters most. Focus on where you want to take your organization over time. This sets the direction of the enterprise over the long term, clearly defines the company mission (markets, customers, products, etc.) and company vision (what your organization’s future should or could be). From this analysis, you can determine the priority issues—those issues so significant to the overall well-being of the enterprise that they require the full and immediate attention of the entire culture. Create SMART Goals that address these priority issues. Such goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and tangible. The strategic plan should focus on successfully completing these Goals. Goals should address annual and long-range targets.
  3. Define how you are going to achieve these company goals. Create clear objectives that indicate the sequence you need to follow in order to achieve the identified priories for the organization. There needs to be an ongoing monitoring process that measures how well you are moving to meet these annual goals over the year. Monitoring will assist in adjusting goals if necessary.
  4. Assign people to complete the tasks. In order to get the work completed, it is necessary to make assignments based on their skill sets. Make certain you have the appropriate staff, with the necessary talent level in order to get the work done efficiently and effectively. Make certain that you have allocated the resources necessary for them to be able to achieve the desired outcomes.
  5. Always check your work. A strategic plan is never done, but rather has sequels. But to move through the process seamlessly, good and timely monitoring is necessary. Set benchmarks and scheduled review opportunities to modify and expand processes as necessary. Sometimes the best way to complete a goal is to scrap it and develop another more appropriate goal. But, switching goals is only successful when you have gone through this five step process and determined a better solution.

A business strategic plan is an important tool for leaders. It can help you take your business to reach new heights. If you haven’t already done so, take the time to lay out a business strategic plan now. If you have created a business plan in the past and have not looked at it for quite a while, it’s a good time to compare and contrast where you thought you were going when you wrote the plan, and where you find yourself today. Regardless, a business strategic plan keeps a business focused, disciplined and growing.

Download this as a whitepaper: How to Develop a Business Strategic Plan

Dr. Ann Gatty is president of Strategic People Solutions, a business consulting firm, helping businesses add value-assets to their businesses. For the past twenty years she and her husband, Gene, have been providing leadership development programs, business implementation strategies, and solving HR employment issues. Ann has recently created The Business Sphere of Excellence® a strategic business planning model used to construct annual and long range business plans helping businesses run more efficiently and profitably. Dr. Ann Gatty is an expert in understanding and improving the workplace culture which is fundamental for implementing any successful strategic initiatives. In order to better explain the importance of employee engagement, Ann partners with Beretta, her Great Dane therapy dog to present her key findings.
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