As business owners, you are investing your heart and soul into your business - you want it to grow and succeed. But is the direction you are taking it the right direction? Do you have short and long terms goals? Do you have a method of measuring your investments effectiveness?
If you don’t strategically plan on the regular, you are not alone. A 2018 survey by Constant Contact found 63% of the 1,005 small business owners surveyed in the U.S. only plan strategically for a year or less! Many of these plans do not contain the right content or are shelved and ultimately are not implemented, as can be seen in our blog on why strategic plans fail.
A strategic plan allows you to map and arrive at where you want your business in the future. That is plan and implement.
In this article, we list some key elements that you should include your strategic plan:
1) Your company’s vision, mission, and values
People, particularly solopreneurs that are crafting their strategic plan for the first time may get the vision, mission, and values confused.
A vision: A statement that describes what your company looks like in an ideal world, e.g., “Our vision is to create a net carbon zero world”.
A mission: A statement that includes details and actions, e.g. “Our mission is to create a wide range of sustainable e-products”
Company values: Behaviors that define your company.
Founders often prioritize the business day-to-day operations, and hence, they may deprioritize crafting the vision, mission, and company values. However, the vision, mission, and values are the WHY you are doing this and WHO you are.
We love the quote from the late Tony Hsieh about company values:
“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company core values ultimately define each company’s character and brand.”
Your company vision, mission and values are what make your company unique and they are important to create early on (see our previous article on why startups should create their company values early on).
Resources: Your mission and vision will be personal to you and dependent on your industry, but your company values may be similar to other companies. If you need some help getting your creative juices flowing when coming up with values, check out this blog.
2) Strategic Framework
Below your vision, mission and values, falls the basis of the strategic framework, while this is outlined quite simply above, the correct development of a strategic plan needs to include numerous factors and is anything but simple.
These factors include:
Reports and Reporting
Stakeholder Engagement and Requirements
You need a comprehensive understanding of current state and intended future state in these areas. This is required, because as you decompose goals, detail needs to grow. From high level targets, down to detailed project plans.
3) Goals and Objectives
How can know you are achieving your goals if you don’t have any? Short term and long term goals should be created to help drive your business forward. There is often confusion between goals and objectives.
Goals: The foundational, collective targets guiding achievement of your Mission.
Objectives: The purpose/reason of each goal
Each goal in the strategic plan will in turn require a number of objectives to be successfully achieved. Here are some of ours as an example.
Goals: - Community Betterment - Customer Satisfaction - Internal Growth and Development - Fiscal Capacity Objectives under Community Betterment: - To provide training and planning services, that encourage local collaboration - To provide templates and guides aligning with best practice to clients - Give pro bono resources and facilitation to non-profit community betterment focused organizations
All businesses should develop goals and objectives at a minimum. It will help you stay accountable and on target.
4) Strategies, actions and performance measures
Next we have Strategies, these are the portfolios of work that will be carried out to achieve desired outcomes. Typically a blend of programs, projects and BAU.
Actions plans are the ‘how’ you will achieve your strategies and performance measures make up the scorecards. Performance Measures/Metrics tell you how well you are doing in achieving any portion of the strategic framework. These are key; companies need to be tracking the success at multiple levels via metrics; this allows companies to re-adjust/adapt when metrics are being missed.
An important principle in formulating measures is that they should be SMART, that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Using words like increase, drive, attain, own, and reduce are often used in objectives.
Actions/Activities/Projects relate more to the specific, timebound undertakings that will be carried out. It is important not to confuse actions and measures, though it is a common occurrence. Here is a more formal breakdown of each.
Creates a unique output
Requires resource to do work
Subject to elaboration/change
Provides stakeholders product
Incorporated into budget
Repetitive (measured in set intervals)
Requires resource to report
SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-framed
Provides stakeholders information
Do not require budget
If you are looking to develop your strategic plan, contact iota consultants; our team of business strategy consultants want to help you create the a realistic and achievable strategic plan. We can also provide a template for you. Feel free to reach out!