A strategic business plan acts as a road map to help your business reach its set milestones and objectives. Without a solid plan with measurable goals in place, a company may fail to reach its full potential. The strategic business planning process should include setting strategic objectives with information on how to realistically achieve these goals within a certain timeframe. Strategic business plans essentially steer a business in the right direction and define what a company does, why it does it, and who it serves. They then continually monitor progress and modify as needed.
What Does a Strategic Business Plan Involve?
A strategic business plan is essential for the growth and ultimate success of a business. These plans are designed to provide companies with the tools necessary to track growth, prepare for unforeseen events, and establish a budget. To fully optimize a strategic business plan, businesses must fully define the goals of a company and perform extensive research to ensure that all goals and objectives consider, among other things, with industry trends.
A strategic business plan contains many of the same elements of a traditional business plan. However, a strategic plan takes it one step further by using the goals set by a company to discover new business opportunities. When a company takes the time to analyze their chosen industry and trends, they can better identify their business’ strengths and weaknesses. With a strategic business plan, companies can also focus on a specific niche in the marketplace which can in turn boost sales, improve advertising, and make customer service management more effective. Marketing is also much more effective when an audience is narrowed down.
While there is no specific blueprint that companies must follow when creating their strategic business plan, there are certain elements that should be included:
- Analysis of external drivers, such as market structure, opportunities, and threats.
- Analysis of internal drivers, such as strengths and weaknesses.
- A vision statement that outlines where you see your business in the next three to five years.
- Top-level objectives which refer to major goals that need to be achieved before the vision for your business can be realized.
- Implementation of key actions that will need to be successfully completed to reach your top-level objectives.
- A plan to obtain resources necessary to achieve objectives, such as funding, staff, equipment, and premises.
- An executive summary which can be used for key external stakeholders and prospective investors.
Evaluating the Progress of Strategic Objectives
When you develop a strategic business plan, you can only use the information and data that you have available at the time, in addition to realistic assessments your business can make based on past trends. However, change can occur at any time and the objectives you set now may not be as realistic in months or years to come. That is why it is important to continually evaluate the progress of your strategic objectives and make changes and modifications as necessary.
Businesses must take the time to reassess their strategic business plan on a regular basis to see what they have achieved and what they can expect to achieve in the near future. It is also important to take note of external factors that could influence your ability to reach your objectives. For example, if a new online platform, ecommerce site or mobile app offering similar goods or services launches, you may not be able to reach your growth objectives as fast as you would like. When these types of events happen, you must take the time to alter your goals and possibly find new opportunities that alter your business plan.
Importance of Having a Strategic Business Plan
You may be wondering if you really need a strategic business plan. The short answer is yes. Developing and maintaining a strategic business plan can have countless advantages to businesses of all sizes. These plans can serve as an outline for the successful completion of various company milestones. In addition, having a plan that requires regular research encourages company owners to become more familiar with industry trends and changes. Keeping up-to-date on industry trends can be highly advantageous to businesses who want to keep a position ahead of the competition.
A strategic business plan is essentially an organizational tool that can help businesses track their growth and financial objectives. Many small businesses believe that strategic business plans are only useful for larger companies but this simply is not true. Strategic business plans can benefit companies of all sizes and have been found to help businesses reach their goals faster than they ever thought possible by guiding them in the right direction.
For more information about the importance of a strategic business plan or for assistance developing or monitoring a strategic business plan for your own company, contact a strategic business planning consultant at The Eastham Group.