A Strategic Business Plan is more than a tool to obtain financing. To truly help you clarify your company’s direction, the Strategic Business Plan needs to be a written document. Additionally, while the Plan may apply to your whole company, it is comprised of other plans such as marketing, financial, staffing, and expansion plans among others, each of which requires research, thought, and honesty. It can ensure that the company’s leaders are pulling together and it keeps both management and staff focused on surviving and thriving.
From our 10 Strategic Business Planning Terms to Know blog post, you will see that strategic business planning is not limited to starting a business, nor does it apply strictly to for-profit organizations. Non-profits, corporations, sole-proprietorships, and professional organizations of all sizes can benefit from a Strategic Business Plan at any stage. Bottom line: planning is essential to success.
A Strategic Plan is often needed when…
- Starting a new venture
- Expanding a current organization
- Buying a new business
- Turning around a declining business
- Redefining who your company is and what it does.
The Strategic Business Plan sometimes starts with a “SWOT” analysis, standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The result is a document that provides an overview and describes your company, its products, the competitive environment, management team, financial health, and business risks as these different areas fit into the SWOT categories. Here are some examples: How do your products or services stand up against your competitor(s)? Is your management team a strength or a weakness? Is your unstable financial health a threat to your survival? Do you know the actual state of your financial well-being? Check out blog post titled: Accounting Information: Is It Really That Important?
Your Strategic Business Plan cannot be completed in one sitting.
It IS worth the effort, however, because it allows you to…
- Identify and describe your ideal customer.
- Determine the features, advantages, and benefits of your product or service that will attract that perfect customer.
- Substantiate that your plans are achievable by thoroughly researching the need being filled with your new or revised venture or with your current business offering.
- Develop Marketing Plans and the 4P marketing mix elements: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion, which have been updated to S.A.V.E., for Solutions, Access, Value, and Education. An expanded marketing plan might include:
- Complete descriptions of targeted promotional campaigns with implementation timelines.
- A more in-depth analysis of market conditions, the nature of your customers, as well as your competitors, and sales potential.
- Projected results of changes in your promotional campaigns, pricing strategies, or distribution channels.
- A look at sales staffing, customer service teams, or employing artificial intelligence for chat functions.
- A change in social media, sampling, or ‘influencer’ tactics.
- Need for a more robust sales data analysis software program.
- Rethink staffing plans including identifying the key players, skills, attitudes, and expertise needed to build the venture.
- Cultivate management plans including full descriptions of the organization’s systems and timelines for implementation of any necessary changes
- Improve Financial Plans including projected startup costs, operating costs, revenue, profits, and break-even analysis for the first 3 to 5 years. Projected financial plans allow you to predict and hopefully prevent future problems. The perspective you gain from your Strategic Business Plan can contribute to your company’s success, and help you obtain the funding you need. Most lending institutions and private investors will not work with companies that do not have a solid Financial Plan.
- Identify building and equipment needs including vendors and cost estimates to expand or change product or service offerings, perhaps.
- Communicate company milestones including timelines for upcoming products and services in development.
- From the Strategic Business Plan, your management team can create the goals, tactics, and most importantly, budget to achieve the organization’s vision and mission, in alignment with the philosophy and basic set of beliefs under which the enterprise operates.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ~ Ben Franklin
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