“Kids!!! Let’s get in the car and go!”
“Go where mom?”
“I don’t know, let’s just go.”
“But how are we going to know when we get there?”
“Oh, honey, quit asking questions, we’ll just know.”
5 hours later, the kids are starving, the car is out of gas, and they’re lost.
The Business Dictionary defines Strategic Planning as “A systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them.” In simple terms it means, “define your goal and figure out how you’re going to achieve that goal.” In other words, plan out where you’re going and all the steps you’re going to need to get there. Many people start a business like this family trip. Entrepreneurs come up with a great idea and somewhat know where they want to go with that idea, but don’t necessarily have the map planned out on how to get there, let alone the indicators to know if they’ve succeeded on reaching their goal.
Enter in strategic planning. In order to accomplish your business goal, let’s start by setting a business goal. What is that big thing you would like to achieve? Why are you in business? Almost every business guru will tell you that your big goal and your mission statement needs to be deeper than just “make lots of money”. Ask yourself, what do I really want to accomplish with this business? Watch the Tedtalk, “Starts with Why” by Simon Sinek. Define the destination of your business.
The next step in your business strategic plan is to outline all the steps you need to accomplish in order to reach that big goal. The family in the example should have thought about the steps of a map, food, and gas needed to reach their destination. Examples of steps in your business goal, would be “Open store front”, “Launch webpage”, “Reach sales of X amount”, or “Merge with another company”. The steps you take, are completing dependent on the goal you set. These steps may be big milestones, or baby steps. Either way, work backwards from setting your goal, all the way down to the little daily activities.
The final step is to measure if you’ve reached your goal. How will you know if you’ve reached any other the goals or steps you’ve set for yourself? You need to set “indicators” that will let you know if you’re a success or not. The indicators in this example would only be set once the final destination has been established. Then the indicators would describe what the success of the arrival would be. For example, the family will know they’ve reached their final destination when they arrive at a cabin on a beautiful lake that has a playground on the beach. Mission accomplished.
In order to make your business a success, you need to outline what makes your business a success, the steps you need to take to get there, and how you are going to measure that success. There are many Strategic Planning templates online. You can also search “logic models” or “log frames” which will give you similar templates to help in your business strategic planning.