Anyone who owns or runs a business should be looking for ways to improve. Instead of hoping and wishing for better results, your best way to jump-start this is to develop a strategic plan. This consists of a document that lays out where you want to get and how you will get there. Setting up and executing your plan can set you up for success, both immediately and in the longer term.
Create a Realistic Assessment
Before you start setting goals, you need to look at where you are now. What are you doing well, and what are you not doing well? This should begin with a look at your current bottom line, then work backward to examine what works for you and what does not.
As you delve in, you should examine what processes and which individual performances are working well or not. The more information you can assess within your organization, the more ability you will have to find paths to improvement.
Know What You Want
Your initial assessment shows you your strategic planning starting point. The next step is to outline where you want to get. You should take the time to outline goals for your company, in specific terms. Everyone wants to improve profits; to turn that into a goal, you should look at where to improve, and by how much. You can look at cutting costs by a specific percentage or dollar amount, increasing sales, or creating additional revenue streams.
Bold visions are wonderful to have, but you must also remain grounded in reality. A strategic plan should be achievable, or it becomes nothing more than a dream with no real business value. Identify something that requires effort, but something that you can reach.
Create and Take Actionable Steps
The final step involves building out concrete actions you can take to get from your assessment of where you are to where you hope to get. Each of these actions must be measurable and designed to move you toward your end goals. It can involve identifying and executing cost savings opportunities, developing training designed to improve performance, or anything else that gives you a measurable result.
Sometimes, examining the steps available to you leads to a revision of your end goals. This can work in either direction; you may discover your goals are too narrow or too ambitious. If that is the case, don't be afraid to reassess other aspects of your strategic plan.
Importantly, your strategic plan should identify what you want to achieve and how you will get there. By going through this process, you create a path for your business to improve and reach new levels of success. As you grow, you should return to that process regularly. Successful businesses do not stop working to improve. Use strategic planning to keep your company moving forward.