Step 1: Know your business
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” - Alexander Bell, Inventor
This step is about getting a clear understanding around any problems, challenges and future concerns facing your business. We need to look at what is happening now and what could potentially happen in the near future. Look at items like, how much revenue you would like within a certain period of time. Are you currently tracking to hit that goal? How many visitors would you like to your website per month? Are you hitting those numbers? Break all these numbers down into smaller time frames so that you’ll know how your tracking earlier, rather than later (e.g, I need to sell X amount per week/month to reach my monthly/yearly goals). Once you have a list of items, you can then narrow it down to those items that will create the most impact.
Step 2: Vision
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes time. Vision with action can change the world.” - Joel Baker, businessman
Problems and challenges tend to be key drivers for strategic planning, however it is vision that drives the rest of the process. Having a vision is vitally important. The more compelling and clear your vision, the more defined and powerful your strategy will be. This vision should be your guide through the whole strategic planning process and include tangible revenue goals, market share goals, values, culture and purpose.
Step 3: Know your obstacles
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” - Moliere, playwright
This part of strategic planning can be quite challenging for those highly invested in their business; so, most business owners/managers. Sometimes obstacles can be seen as excuses to not pursue a bigger vision and for owners and companies to not reach their full potential. As I’ve heard some people say, ‘It’s a bit “too hard basket”’. The way to view this part of strategy creation is to instead look at your obstacles objectively and break them down into smaller, more achievable obstacles, to minimise the seeming enormity of it. This will also help you have a clearer mind for crafting innovative strategies to best overcome your hurdles, and obtain a more realistic idea of what they actually are.
4. Understand your resources
“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails” - Unknown
This phase is important to complete after the vision and obstacles are defined. Understanding resources we have and what we need to help achieve our vision can only be identified now as a resource can only be determined as that when the vision is created; e.g. A rock at a construction site doesn’t become a resource until I realise that I don’t have a hammer.
Look for the “rocks” around your business that you would never think to use until you create a vision giving them meaning as a resource.
5. Define the path
“Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to succeed, but more importantly, what’s your plan to succeed?” Jim Rohn - Entrepreneur
Strategy exists to serve vision.
Vision and resources answer the questions, “Where do we want to go?” and “Where are we now?”. Strategy answers the question, “How do we get there?”
Now we have a clear understanding of the obstacles in the way and the resources we have, we can create a path that takes us to our vision in the most efficient way. This is essentially strategy.
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu, author of the art of war
Now that we know our strategic direction, it is time to create milestones, provide details and assign accountabilities.
Tactics identify who’s going to do what and by when. It is about making things happen.
It can be quite difficult to work on this phase after working in the previous 5 as they are all big picture, visionary and imaginative sections. Tactics are working out the details that will deliver the strategy.
7. Monitoring and measuring
“We cannot predict the future, but we can invent it.” - Dandridge Cole, Futurist
Vision is about the future and strategy is how to get there. However no one knows the future.
It is easy to get locked into specific strategies and tactics and find out to late that the strategy is failing.
Monitoring and measuring the strategy and its progress is the only way to keep your plan on track and on time. Monitoring will also give you opportunity to pivot and try something different if the strategy or particular tactic is not working.