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A strategic plan gives your company a direct route to success
Lack of planning often leads to failure. That’s why strategic planning is a key success tool for growing your business. While a business plan focuses on startup nuts and bolts, a strategic plan plots your company’s success in small, logical, ongoing steps.

The strategic planning process can:

1. Establish realistic growth goals and objectives
2. Focus resources on key priorities
3. Increase staff productivity
4. Build strong teams
5. Measure progress

Action Steps
The best contacts and resources to help you get it done

Understand what goes into a strategic plan

Basics that should be included in a strategic plan include an executive summary, organizational description, mission and vision statements, goals and strategies. Additional sections may include action plans (specific responsibilities for meeting goals), a budget for reaching goals and instructions for reviewing and communicating the plan.

Spell out your purpose in the strategic plan

One tool to try in the strategic planning process is a grid that asks two questions: Do we have it? Do we really want it? Or, you can also use another tool called SWOT, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Create an action plan

Detail the actions to be taken in order to reach your business strategy goals. Always specify who is responsible for doing what and when. Within the first 90 days, hold regular reviews, so that team members know what is expected of them. Designate point-persons who measure the strategic plan every quarter for its success along the way. Also consider putting people in teams of two so that they’re accountable to each other.

Carry out your strategic plan

Break down the whole strategic plan into small steps. You might use strategies to reach your goal, such as marketing on the Internet. These strategies will likely shift as you progress. Action plans carry out the strategies and are usually expressed in quantifiable objectives, such as a 10 percent increase in sales. Hand out copies of the strategic plan to all team members. Remember to regularly praise them for meeting business strategy goals.

Consider hiring a consultant

If you’ve never written a strategic management plan, or your first attempt wasn’t successful, turn to a professional for help. Remember to work together to set achievable goals that feel realistic.

Tips & Tactics
Helpful advice for making the most of this Guide

* Take your team to a quiet place outside the office so that conversations can flow freely.
* Create a concise, clear, actionable timeline.
* Update your business strategy plan every year.
* The strategic planning process takes focus. Keep the phone and Internet off limits during strategic management discussions.
* Try to complete the strategic planning process within three months, so that planning doesn’t lose its momentum.