Business planning: A strategic perspective
Strategy involves vision, mission and creative thinking, and strategic planning primarily describes where you want your company to go, and only subsequently tackles how you're going to get there.
The strategic element in business planning gives an expression to the ownership of your dreams and visions of successful results. Strategic planning functions as the ‘design’, just as a blueprint functions as the ‘how’ to build something. The strategic element in your plan will look at the finished product or goal. Strategic planning involves ‘feel’ just as much as it depends on management science. And since it depends on creativity and outside-the-box thinking, there is no perfect way to design a winning strategic plan. The more you understand your company, your industry, and your corporate ‘wish list’, the more of a chance you’ll have of ending up with a winning strategic plan.
A swot analysis, considering all your corporate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, is a tried-and-tested way of laying the groundwork for developing a strategic plan. And this technique can be as useful for your small business as it is for Fortune 500 companies in enabling you to reach your strategic goals.
Adopting a strategic perspective to your planning will allow you to envision goals and then define the strategies you will undertake to achieve your objectives. Particularly in the case of smaller businesses, where it is more commonly overlooked, strategic thinking identifies the methods you will take to reach your goals. For example, if you come to the conclusion that you must expand your e-commerce function to achieve increased sales volume, you've also identified the strategy or method by which you will reach your business goals.
Just as critical as business planning is the need for this to be followed up by action. Giving your planning a strategic perspective will lead to the additional side benefit of deriving an action plan that stems from identifying your preferred strategy. While strategic planning involves your vision, mission and dreams, it also further defines the rudiments of your action plan to achieve the results you want. For example, if you adopt a strategy of increasing business-to-business (B2B) revenue, you've also identified a basic action plan.
Once you have you have devised the strategic rationale as to how you want to approach your business, you can then integrate the various elements which will translate your goals into reality. At the end of this exercise, you should have a document (a business plan) with outlines your mission and objectives, the various components of your operations, the human resources you will be carrying these out with, your marketing strategy, the technology you will be adopting, and the investment you will be undertaking to bring all this to fruition. You will have also kept in mind the macro-environment you are operating in, including the regulatory, economic, and financial aspects which will impact your business.
One underlying thought about this process – always make sure that your business plan is clear in terms of desired objectives, well thought out, measurable, and properly communicated.