someone pointing at sticky notes a whiteboard, practicing strategic planning

When operating any business, planning for the future and long-term goals is an essential part of the company’s structure. This is where small business strategic planning comes into play. While it’s excellent to have a goal in mind for your business, you’ll set yourself up for even greater success if you take it through the planning process in a way that makes it achievable.

That’s where today’s blog post comes in. We will be taking you through the steps of the strategic planning process and how it can be implemented at your small business. From goals that you’ve hoped to accomplish for years, to long-term ideas that just popped into your head, you can use this process to help you achieve what you’ve been hoping to accomplish.

Why The Strategic Planning Process Matters

Besides long-term planning and goal-setting being an essential part of running a small business, there are many benefits that come along with strategic planning.

To begin, it helps reduce any level of uncertainties that can bring risks into your business. By actively doing your research to learn more about industry trends and the economics that go along with it, you can be more prepared if financial issues arise, particularly in an unpredictable market.

Setting goals and having a vision can also help you and your employees feel more engaged in their work. If everyone can see where the business is trying to go, you can get each person on board and give actionable advice for how they can all have a hand in achieving these goals.

Finally, taking an objective look at your business, both inside and out, will help you identify potential areas of strength, as well as weakness. You’ll be better informed about what you could improve and be in a better position to be a more proactive member of your team.

Step 1: Discussion and Analysis

Before you decide where you want to go, it’s important to take inventory of where you are now. This may include performing a SWOT analysis, actively writing down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will help guide your vision as you go through all of the steps in the process.

It may also include talking with employees. Give them a safe place to share their thoughts about the company and where they would like to see it headed in the future. Be open to feedback, because honesty is what will help propel you forward in the long run. Don’t forget to write down notes from your discussions, as they will be important as you continue through your planning.

Step 2: Development and Vision

Once you’ve done your research, you can begin crafting a statement of your vision, a mission statement, and a written account of all of your goals.

A vision statement is a short, written piece about what you see your business achieving. It’s typically more emotional than most writing you’ll do in the business world, but it’s important that your values and sincerity shine through. Patagonia has an excellent example of a vision statement.

Your vision statement and mission statement may be one in the same if that’s what works best for you. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, however, it may make sense to write different sentiments for each. The mission statement is typically a more general piece about why the business exists. LinkedIn has a separate statement for each, making this idea a bit clearer.

From here, you can begin writing out your goals and tactics. Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely), and don’t be afraid to write out two, three, or more. It’s important to have at least one goal for every aspect of your plan.

Each goal should also be accompanied by two or three tactics. These will help tell you exactly what you need to do in order to reach your goals. Get as specific as possible with these. They are essentially your active blueprint for achieving those long-term goals.

Step 3: Timeline and Execution

After establishing your background goals and values, it’s important to plan out what steps you will take and when.

Once these steps are cemented, it’s time to start carrying them out. What can you accomplish today to set your business up for success in the future? Post your written notes in a place where employees can refer to them. Everyone should be in on the success of the company and actively participating in reaching those goals each and every day.

Step 4: Review and Update

As you go through your plan, it’s important to take note of the things that have worked and the things that haven’t. This will help you when you begin crafting your next strategic plan. You may also come to realize that certain goals need to be edited or some of your tactics need further development.

The important thing is not to lose sight of your enthusiasm in the beginning of the process. Have employees hold everyone accountable for doing their part and continuously moving the plan forward. Even if you ultimately need to pivot your plan or make changes, it’s necessary to keep the vision strong as you move through your goals.

In Summary

The strategic planning process can be tedious at times, but it’s so necessary for reaching your goals as a small business owner. There are few things more important than a commitment to excellence and constantly trying to improve. Therefore, make this process a priority.

If your strategic planning process involves any sort of digital transformation or content strategy, Vervology is the business for you. We would be happy to discuss your business goals and help guide you as you build your online presence. Get in touch today.