SCORE Counselor Bob Paul teaches a practical approach to business planning. Here’s his take on strategic plans for an existing business. He assumes you’ve got a business plan laying around somewhere that you’d like to dust off and put into action.
1) Reaffirm Your Mission, Vision, Values – “Choose the mountain you wish to climb,” Bob says.
2) Review and Update Your SWOT analysis – Define your products and your target customers. Analyze your internal strengths and weaknesses of your business, as well as the external opportunities and threats that you see when you review the economic climate, the industry and your key competitors.
3) Identify Current Critical Issues – Taking into consideration your Vision and SWOT, identify and document 3-5 issues that are critical to your eventual strategic success.
4) Set Several Long-Term Goals – Choose 4-6 major goals. This is all you probably can manage with a 2-3 year horizon. These goals should match and address one or more of your critical issues. “You need measurable goals with specific deadlines,” he insists.
5) Develop Your Action Plan – Write out the steps you intend to take in the next 1-3 months to address each of the long term goals. Schedule a revision and update of these action items quarterly. Bob is adamant about specificity:
• Your action steps must described in terms you can measure.
• You must also specify deadlines, resource constraints (dollars and people), and who is responsible.
In essence, keep it short and focused. Make 2009 the year you commit to an actionable strategic plan. And the year you execute.
Strategic Planning and Execution. An online course from the Small Business Administration. (Free with login)
Different Types of Business Plans and Strategic Plan for Your Business. Tim Berry of Bplans.com on basic definitions, general principals of a small business strategy and his main elements of a strategic plan.
Strategic plan templates from DocStoc Website where you can find and share professional documents.
Strategic Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them by Bill Birnbaum, Birnbaum Associates. 15 mistakes to avoid.
5 Top Strategic Planning Mistakes by Kathleen Quill in Credit Today.
Forrester: 10 Mistakes that Will Sink a Strategic Plan by Linda Tucci, on CIO News. Alex Cullen, research director at Forrester Research Inc., on 10 points for a strategic plan that produces results.
And for good measure: Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck. A favorite book on my bookshelf. I’m the kind of person who will just figure out how to make it happen, and this book is the industrial strength version of a that approach, that committment.
Do you have a strategic plan? What problems do you run into trying to execute? Why not leave me a comment? Or meet with a counselor at SCORE Chicago to help you achieve your business goals in 2009.