No matter how small, businesses need to prepare a strategic plan on a routine basis, according to SCORE, "Counselors to America's Small Businesses."
A business owner needs to look into the future to determine the best way to grow his or her business after determining how competition, the economy, new product introductions, changing prices and changes in internal operations might impact the business. Business owners routinely think about day to day operations on an ongoing basis. It is a good idea, at least once a year, to take time to step back and look at the big picture—including both external and internal variables and how these variables might impact the business.
The annual strategic review can be as simple or as complicated as the business owner might wish to make it. Taking a look at the mission statement of the business, updating a SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) analysis, revisiting Critical Success Factors, goals and objectives can confirm that the business is on track or going in the wrong direction. If the business is moving off course, the business owner can make corrective changes in direction before a disaster happens.
The strategic plan for the business is the “game plan” for positioning the business and for managing its activities. Strategies serve as guidelines for how the business will get where it wants to go. As important as developing the strategic plan is, implementation is everything! A strategic planning exercise can be a great way for the management of a small business to determine where they’re going and how they’re going to get there.
-Ron Ameln, SBM