I ask this question, partly, because all too often I hear people say their companies aren’t ready for strategic planning. Let’s take a look at what you need to be truly ready for strategic planning.
1. An operating business
This seems like an easy one, but quite often people talk with us about strategic planning who are just planning to start a new business. There is some benefit to a pre-launch assessment of strategy and opportunities. That process, however, is akin to setting a course for a ship that’s not in the water yet. If you have sales and an income statement, you qualify on this count.
2. An awareness of your markets
Some businesses – even going concerns – have no awareness of who is buying from them, and why. If you haven’t given this question some thought, the first step in strategic planning is to think about it. Much of strategic planning is about why our customers buy what they buy. Therefore, you won’t get far if you’ve never considered that question.
3. A desire to grow your sales or profitability
Again, this should be a no-brainer, but in reality, some owners aren’t motivated by growth in sales or profits. While you can get great benefit from strategic planning if there is anything you want out of your business. Servicing more customers, or changing your industry are examples. Ultimately, you should want to do something other than simply tread water.
4. An ability to devote some resources to initiatives
This is a really tricky one. Every year I meet people who have companies in dire circumstances, but are excited about strategic planning. This always leads to frustration, as the ideas we generate in strategic planning require either time or money or both. If you can’t shake loose a little of each, you’ll likely find your initiatives will flounder for lack of resources. This is just a recipe for frustrating your team.
If you have those four things, you’re ready for strategic planning. It may not be perfect, sophisticated or sexy, but you can gain a lot from spending some time on figuring out a better course for your business.
Are you concerned about whether you’re ready for strategic planning? Give me a call – I’m happy to discuss it, and give you some ideas about how to most efficiently tackle the strategic planning process. I’ll be happy to help you steer your company in the right direction. As always, I’d love to hear of anything that has worked well – or not – for you. For great ideas on how to improve the quality of your planning, contact me at email@example.com.
Dana Baldwin is Senior Strategist with the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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