Strategic planning is crucial for growing a small business and staying ahead of the competition.

Creating the right strategy will depend on the type of business you are running and your long-term goals. Whether you’re planning to expand or simply want to maintain your current position in the market, use these steps to develop your strategy.

Assess Where You Are Right Now

Before you can move forward, you need to know where you are right now. Make a realistic assessment of how your business is doing, where it fits in the market and any other relevant information. It’s important to be honest about any failings or weak spots, such as low profits, poor customer satisfaction or expensive suppliers, as you will need to address these issues.

Decide Where You Want To Be

Knowing where you want to be is the first step towards reaching your destination. Decide where you want to take your business and what goals you need to achieve. These goals could be financial, or they may be related to brand awareness, customer satisfaction or achievements recognized by trade associations. Be as specific as possible when defining your destination, as this will help you to create a realistic plan.

Research Your Options

Start by brainstorming all the different ways you can achieve your goals and reach your destination. Ask employees, friends, and family for their input, too. Try to come up with as many different options as possible. Don’t worry about how realistic these options are; the aim is to kick-start the creative part of your brain. Use search engines, forums, and social media to find even more ideas. You can also research other businesses that have already achieved similar goals to see how they did it.

Consider Any Barriers and Special Considerations

Barriers can come in many different forms, such as financial, geographical, legal restrictions or time limitations. There may be stakeholders or partners that need to agree to your plan, or perhaps financial backers want a say in how the business is run. Health issues, family responsibilities, and other special considerations may affect the amount of time and effort you are able to put into your business. Take stock of any potential barriers, pitfalls and special circumstances that could affect your plans.

Seek Impartial Advice

Being too close to the situation can make it difficult to see all of the available options, as well as the potential pitfalls involved. Seeking impartial advice will offer extra options that you hadn’t thought of. Ideally, you should seek advice from someone with knowledge of your particular industry.

Develop a Realistic Plan

When developing your plan, remember to take all of the potential barriers and special circumstances into account. Use short, medium and long-term goals as a way to stay focused on your destination. All of your goals should be specific, time-limited and measurable. Your goals should also be realistic and achievable with the resources you currently have. Put together a detailed road map of how you are going to progress through each stage of your plan.

Create a Contingency Plan

No matter how fool-proof your plan may seem, you will almost certainly face unexpected problems along the way. Your initial plan needs to be flexible enough that you can adapt to new challenges and failures. Developing a contingency plan for when things go wrong is also crucial for helping to stay on track. It’s often difficult to predict potential problems, so contingency plans should cover the most common worst-case scenarios, such as running out of money, failing to bring in enough customers and experiencing negative publicity.

Once you’ve created your plans, it’s time to take action. Keep track of your achievements and check-in regularly to make sure you are making progress towards your goals.

Let us review your plan, as well as your destination, and show you how we can help drive growth in 2020!