As a business owner myself, I know that starting a new business can be an exciting and challenging experience. We are often energized by our great ideas and ready to hit the ground running until we realize we have no real plan. So, what would this plan look like? A strategic plan is essentially a roadmap that outlines your business goals, objectives, and the actions you need to take to achieve them. I’ve taken time to reflect on my own experience as a business leader and have distilled my experience with strategic planning into several key actions you can take to build a solid foundation for your new business.
Once you have your business idea, the first step in developing a strategic plan is to define your vision and mission. While these might seem like similar concepts, they’re quite different. Your business’s vision statement is focused on the future and is often aspirational in nature. It identifies long-term goals and serves to motivate and inspire both you and your team. Your mission statement focuses on the here and now, and describes your business’s purpose, values, and strategy. Both the vision and the mission statement should serve as pillars of your business, guiding your decision-making and providing clarity for you and your team.
Once you have defined your vision and mission statements, it’s time to conduct a market analysis. It’s important to understand how your business is positioned in the market. Consider conducting a SWOT analysis, which is a tool to help you identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By analyzing these factors, you can better understand your business’s position in the market and develop a plan that leverages your strengths and opportunities while mitigating your weaknesses and threats.
Once you have conducted your market analysis and understand your business’s comparative strengths and weaknesses, your next step in strategic planning is to set realistic goals and objectives. When starting out, I recommend setting goals that you intend to achieve in three to six months. This will ensure that you are setting realistic goals in a specific timeframe and will allow you to celebrate some quick wins. Once you have your goals, break each of your goals into actionable steps. Set timelines, deadlines and outline the responsibilities for each of those steps. Creating this level of granular detail will ensure you are making progress in the timeframe you expect.
Be sure to regularly check in with yourself and measure your progress against your goals. If you find that a goal is not easily achieved, adjust accordingly. If you’re not able to hold yourself accountable, consider partnering with a business coach such as myself who can provide you this accountability and support.
Finally – get comfortable with some ambiguity. Unfortunately, a strategic plan is not a one-time event. It’s important to regularly review and adjust your plan based on changing market conditions, customer feedback, and other external factors that may impact your business. By monitoring your progress and adjusting as necessary, you can stay on track towards meeting your strategic goals.
Developing a strategic plan is a pivotal step for new business owners. Combining your creativity and leadership with strategy will build a strong foundation for your business and greatly increase your chances of long-term success.