5 Keys to Strategic Planning for Your Business
It’s that time of year again — when we look back to see what worked and what didn’t for your business, the good decisions made, and others you’d change. Did this year bring the success you’ve been building toward, or was it a challenging year that fell short of your goals?
But it’s also time to look forward. To figure out where you’re headed, and move you closer to your long-term goals. For this, we look to strategic planning.
Strategic planning is the process organizations use to clarify the long-term direction of their companies, define a company’s mission and vision, set priorities, align the team, allocate resources, and translate those goals for the future into projects and budgets that can are implemented in the short term. It defines the work in the coming year that will get your organization to your destination in the years to come.
These are the five keys to good strategic planning to do now.
1: Involve the Whole Team
Schedule your strategic planning event at a time when your whole team can attend. Involving the whole team improves the process by having more input, broader discussions, and a better understanding of the process when it’s time for implementation.
2: The Right Setting
Get out of your office. Hold the meeting off-site, at a location that’s comfortable and, if possible, inspirational. Participants need to be able to focus; get away from distractions but also be in a place that inspires creative thought. You don’t have to go far, but you do want to get out of your own space.
3: Set Your Destination
You can’t get to your destination if you don’t have a map. Start by defining where the company is going. Pick a point in the future (three or five years) and describe in detail your vision for the company:
- Your revenue goals
- The type of projects you’ll be doing
- What your role as the owner will be
- How the company structure will change to meet the revenue goals
Be sure to get good input from everyone. The clearer you can paint that picture, the better the entire process will go.
4: The Current State: SWOT & KPI
Describe in detail where the business is now. Start with a SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Look at this at both the company and department level. Talk about processes and areas for improvement. Make that conversation about processes, not people. Then, define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you’ll all use to measure operational improvement and the distance to your goals.
5: Budget and Plan for the Coming Year
Finally, the goal of this meeting is to leave the process with an operating plan and a budget for the coming year. Set priorities for the team, detailing what role each member will play in the company’s success and how performance will be measured. Make a commitment to keep the team updated regularly throughout the year and avoid chasing new ideas and new projects that take the team away from the core mission.
Follow these five steps to set your course, make strategic decisions, identify priorities, define roles, establish a budget, and build morale. If you do this well, you might just be setting the stage for the coming year to be the year you have been waiting for.