If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. – Lewis Carroll
Let’s face it, your business cannot and will not survive without strategic business planning. That is a given, but don’t take our word for it! According to the Small Business Administration, only 5% of you reading this very blog will survive (or have survived) your first five years in business.
Sounds daunting and ominous when you put it that way does it? The facts do not lie, which is why we wanted to bring you this very important blog series on Strategic Business Planning for your small business. This series will cover the three most important elements of this concept, in the following order:
We hope that you enjoy this post and all of those accompanying posts to this series! As always you can obtain more information about our services in Strategic Business Planning by visiting our services tab. Now, let’s get into the blog.
The Master Plan
By now, we have made it abundantly clear (see our first post in this series), that you cannot operate your business with no strategic business plan. Well actually, let’s take that back, you can absolutely operate your business with no strategic business plan, but you will not be very profitable and you will more than likely spend a lot of time running around in circles. Think about it, why would you ever sign up to run a business that you know is going to fail? That makes no sense.
This is why you need to set yourself up for the best possible outcome and this can only be reached if you make necessary decisions early on. Remember, that starting, operating, and maintaining a business is not the same now as it was twenty years ago or even ten years ago. No, now you will need to put in some serious work an be extremely diligent about your steps. You see, one of the biggest misconceptions we hear is small business owners thinking that they can simply sign up for yet another social media account and somehow learn to attract their ideal audience.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! You need to be able to follow through by on a plan and if you do not have a plan to go by, then that is a big problem that must be addressed early on. In order to create such a plan, you’ll need to first figure a few things out.
Building Your Team (aka Expert Toolkit)
When you are creating a strategic business plan, no matter which industry you are creating it for, one of the most important things you will want to do is start rounding up several experts in very distinctive fields. You will want to think of everything that you will need in order to create a well-rounded plan, therefore you will want to think about everything from your general business foundation to the marketing aspect of your business. No stone should be left unturned. Here are a few things that are musts in all of the strategic business plans we create for our clients.
- The Business Consultant: A business consultant (not to be confused for a business coach) will be able to assist you and your team in creating a sound business roadmap. This is the person that is tasked with the building portion of your business. They are required to assist you in laying down the foundation so that you can then build up. Without this important team member, you will find it very difficult to navigate in business.
- The Legal Consultant: The legal consultant (or attorney) is one of those experts that many assume, again, they will not need to hire until many years into their business and entrepreneurial journey. However, hiring legal counsel early on will save you so many headaches down the line in your business. For one, you will be able to discuss items like trademarks and copyrights, as well a licensing and much more!
- The Financial Consultant: The financial consultant (can be a bookkeeper or preferably an accountant, CPA) is your second in command at the helm of your business. Next, to your business consultant, this team member is of utmost importance! We cannot stress it enough how valuable it is to have financial advice readily available to you on what is exclusive to your business. How will you itemize your bookkeeping? How much will you in quarter business taxes? How to properly file your annual reports? All of these questions can be answered by your financial consultant.
- The Marketing Consultant: The last team member in your arsenal to create a stellar strategic business plan is going to be a marketer. Now, there is some controversy as to whether or not a small business owner (or a solopreneur) actually needs a marketer to assist them with items like brand awareness, lead generation, and advertising. The answer is yes and to some capacity, this will also depend on your own knowledge of marketing. You may find that you simply need someone you will consult and strategize with. You may also find that you need a marketing agency to take over all aspects of your marketing. This will depend on your specific needs, but nonetheless, this team member is beyond important.
Crafting The Plan in Five Steps
In our previous post, we compared a strategic business plan to a roadmap, and so the next five steps are going to help you build out that roadmap. You will then be able to put together what will surely be an extremely successful business.
- The Vision & Foundation: The vision and foundation steps are more important than many care to admit. In this step, we are going to look at factors like your brand statement, and your brand goals. This the step where you answer, “why do I want to do this?” “who will I be serving?” “how will I be serving them?” “why do they need what I have to offer?” “where do I see my business in five years?” At Priceless Planning, we often work with a marketer in this stage to determine what will be the overall flow of the brand identity of the company.
- The Market Analysis: Ever heard of a SWOT analysis? Well, if you have not it is a report that outlines a companies strengths and weaknesses. It details how the company measures up to its competitors and what can be done in order to prevent major pitfalls from occurring. This is a portion that is best completed with the help of a business consultant, as they will know precisely what to look for in the market and how to outline it for you to review.
- The Individual Plans: This is where you dream team really comes into play. In this step you will want to gather data from these various sources in order to again, ask yourself the questions, “how,” “why,” “when.” You take various plans from either your accountant, attorney, and marketer and you piece them together to cover every angle of your business. Everything from your strategic marketing plan to your bookkeeping, to your legal plan, must be thought out and properly aligned with the overall goals and objectives of step one.
- The Implementation: In step four, we take all of these various plans and we start putting them together for implementation; because without proper implementation, you will not be able to get ahead. You actually have to put in the work required by each of the individual plans and any additional steps recommended by your team. This portion of your strategic business plan is often broken down by year and then even by quarter, hence giving you the best possible outcome to the success of your business.
- The Review Benchmarks: This is a step that is often overlooked because people do not generally like to review things. Going through reports and data analysis is not fun for many. However, it is pretty awesome to see the progress you have made in your business. This is why we always recommend that you take some time out each quarter and also at the end of each year in order to review your business. This can mean, review where you were, where you are and where you will be headed next. Thus making your roadmap your ultimate compass.
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We hope you enjoyed this post and that it brought you some much-needed clarity on what it really takes to create a strategic business plan. In our next post of this series, we will be covering how to implement this plan effectively! That means that we will be diving a little bit deeper into step four to give you some additional insight.
As always, if you have any comments regarding this post or strategic business planning please do not hesitate to leave us a comment below! We will love to chat with you about how we can help clarify any questions you may have.