Developing a strategic plan for large companies that have a board of directors and a complete management team is pretty common. In contrary, a vast majority of small businesses don’t have time, capacity, and usually enough expertise to create one per quarter. But creating even a one-page strategic plan will beneficially influence the small business performance. So let’s discuss why your company needs a strategic plan and look into the process of creating one.
Why do you need a strategic plan?
Small business owners are usually faced with the situation when they have too many projects and are trying to do too many things at once. But when faced with too many choices, according to the latest research, we normally find it extremely difficult to stay focused enough to complete important projects or even handle routine tasks. A Strategic plan helps you reduce the number of choices and stay focused.
As your company grows and more and more staff joins your team, it will become increasingly challenging to ensure that everyone remains on the same page. After some time, different employees will have different ideas about what your business is, what products it provides and how these products are provided.
So unless you and your team members have a clear focus on what you are trying to accomplish, it is unlikely to grow your business. Moreover, to achieve your target faster, your strategic planning should become a routine for your and your employees.
How to develop a one-page strategic plan?
First of all, you should schedule a day meeting with your team to develop a strategic plan altogether. Here you need to figure out a framework for creating a strategic plan. This will ensure that your newly-created strategic plan won’t end up as another useless piece of paper stuck on the wall.
According to the book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” by Verne Harnish, you need the following three things to remain competitive:
- a framework that identifies and supports your corporate strategy,
- a common language in which to express that strategy, and,
- a well-developed habit of using this framework and language to continually evaluate your strategic progress.
To make this work for your small business, the process should be relatively simple. Verne Harnish suggests that the strategic framework that works best for emerging businesses is called the Strategic Planning Pyramid:
This Pyramid helps you and your team understand how all the various vision pieces align and establish a common strategic language that is easy to use and helps to eliminate any confusion.
As a small business, you don’t need to develop a 100-page strategic plan. This will only end up as a new useless piece of recommendations and will confuse your team. So we advise you better to create a one-page strategic plan consisting of three main sections:
1. Stuff That Shouldn’t Change (much)
2. Annual Targets
3. Quarterly Targets
Stuff that shouldn’t change (much)
This important section includes the following:
- core values and beliefs: who you are
- core competencies: what you are all about
- purpose: why you are here
- sandbox: where you play
- brand promise: what expectations you set and meet
- Top priorities
- Financial goals
The priorities and targets listed in this section can be less specific than in the Quarterly targets. Better keep them short and simple at this stage.
Once you define who you want to be, it is time to define the blocking and tackling. You will need this to keep focused on over the next 90 days to make your one-page strategic plan work.
Here you can start with well-known and so beloved SWOT Analysis. This should be done quarterly because strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can change rather quickly and you should ensure that you understand the current situation and are able to manage it properly.
Later, you again need to specify top priorities and financial goals, this time, however, more specific and in the quarter time frame. Here you can also include Key Performance Indicators that once achieved quarterly, can be also tracked annually.
Establish a meeting rhythm
Once you develop a strategic plan for the first quarter, you need to ensure that you stay on the plan. For that, it is highly advisable to establish a meeting rhythm, for example, meet first every Monday morning for reviewing the progress. During such meetings, you will get a clear picture of what each member of your team has accomplished and what they are still struggling with. This will help you to come up with a solution as a team. Moreover, for the tasks that were completed, you should express sincere appreciation – Don’t forget to keep the motivation level of your employees high!
So this is how you should develop a one-page strategic plan that will definitely ease the planning and tracking processes and help you achieve your goals while overcoming obstacles.
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