By Jess Chapman, ethree Consulting Inc.
Have you ever been lost? Taken the wrong road and ended up somewhere you didn’t want to be? Sometimes getting lost is fun, but often it’s disheartening and a waste of time. That’s also true for business. As business owners and entrepreneurs, we have to know where we are going and have a plan to get there without getting lost along the way. The best tool to help you do that is a good strategic plan.
A strategic plan outlines where your organization is going and how it plans to get there. It’s not the same thing as a business plan: a strategic plan makes sure you don’t lose sight of the most important activities for your businesses and that you align your actions and those of your teams to those activities.
At ethree we help many organizations, large and small, develop strategic plans to guide their growth. Here are four things we suggest you do to help build your strategic plan.
Start with a clear vision
Your strategy is your roadmap to your destination. If your vision is unclear, you have no clear destination. One of our favorite activities to help is to imagine yourself in the future, seeing an article about your organization on the front page, and to capture what it says. Then build from there.
We’re often asked, “How far into the future should my vision be?” Some suggest creating an audacious goal that is 25 years out. For many, this can feel a little daunting, so a three- to five-year time frame may be better. Where do you want to be in five years? And remember, you don’t need perfect wording: you just need a clear statement that everyone understands.
Review your organization objectively
Next, objectively assess how the organization is doing. One of the simplest and most popular ways to do this is through a SWOT analysis that looks at your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (see mindtools.com on how to complete a SWOT). Whatever framework you use, make sure you are objective. As humans, we are automatically biased, and it can be hard to be balanced about a business we are really invested in. To counter that, use data, not opinions, and get input from a broad range of people.
Identify your strategic drivers
Strategic drivers are areas you must work on to achieve your vision: choose four to six of these. Strategic drivers are four to six things you must drive to achieve the vision. They should be large-scale items that will make a substantial difference (e.g., increase client conversion), not tactical activities (e.g., post a Google ad). Try not to get hung up on pet projects; instead, be really clear on what will move your business forward.
Once you know the drivers, identify your measures of success and any critical activities that are part of it. This forms the core of your strategic plan.
Determine how you’ll track progress
Now that you have all the pieces, write it up. It doesn’t have to be a formal report; in fact, anything that keeps your strategy front and centre is best. At ethree we use a “SOAP,” or Strategy on a Page, that we put up on the wall. Your strategy should guide your activity, so put it where you can see it and track your progress against it week to week.
Your strategy is your roadmap to achieving all you imagine for your business. Take the time to shape it so you stay on track and follow the right road!
For more help with building a strong strategic plan or helping to grow your business, connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jess Chapman, ethree Consulting Inc.
At ethree we believe that successful business is all about people and relationships, and so the better you and your people perform, the better your business performs. We help organizations build their people and handle the “tough people stuff” so that they can drive profitable growth and create amazing work environments where people are engaged, enabled, and empowered (hence our name!). We provide training, coaching, and advisory services to organizations of all shapes and sizes, from solopreneurs looking to grow their businesses to multinational corporations driving large-scale change. We pride ourselves on the breadth and depth of our expertise and our collaborative approach. Our clients will tell you that we are their trusted go-to experts and we feel like part of their team. Get in touch to see how we can help you.