What are successful entrepreneurs doing behind the scenes?
One of those things is planning strategically. And I have to tell you guys that I attended Goal Digger last month, which is a 2-day power planning retreat for Black women entrepreneurs. sponsored by Sistahbiz. It was absolutely amazing. What a beautiful thing to see so many black women entrepreneurs in one space planning for their businesses, encouraging each other to dream and play big, and also having a whole lot of fun doing it.
So, I know first hand that one of the things that successful entrepreneurs are doing behind the scenes is planning strategically.
Let’s define some of these things first.
What is Planning? Planning is the process of establishing goals, policies, and procedures.
What is strategy? Strategy is the roadmap you use to achieve your vision and reach your goals.
What is a strategic plan? A strategic plan is a tool that provides guidance in fulfilling a mission with maximum efficiency and impact. It has specific goals and describes the action steps and resources needed to accomplish them.
Now remember, one of the most important things to remember about planning, strategy, and creating a strategic plan is that it cannot be developed until you have clearly defined your vision, mission, and values for the organization. So, if you haven’t done that, I am going to highly recommend you take a step back and create those things first.
So, why is strategic planning an important part of building a successful business? Because it does 5 core things for your organization:
Establishes long-term direction for the organization
Establishes a framework for decision-making
Sets the foundation for organizational planning
Explains your business to others
Serves as a catalyst for change
Additional benefits of strategic planning include:
Forces the organization to think about its future position in the marketplace
Provides a better understanding of the organization's current position and needs
Creates a system of accountability throughout the organization
Provides a tangible, workable, and realistic plan for achieving goals
So, what is the process and how do you get started? First, you must prepare to start the planning process. Preparation is key and involves the following:
Identify Key Stakeholders who should be involved (i.e. leaders, employees, volunteers, etc.)
Identify who will be the champion of the plan (generally you as the CEO)
Identify who will facilitate the planning session (internal vs. external consultant)
Identify when and where the session will occur
Next, Begin with the END in MIND
Where are we?
Where do we want to be?
How do we get there? (Close the gap)
How do we evaluate our progress?
#1 Do an Environmental Analysis: this is a swot analysis of your organization
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
(internal: assets, resources, culture, partnerships, etc.)
(external: marketplace, competitors, target audience,
technology, governmental rules/regulations)
#2 Re-assess your Organizational Direction:
Are we mission driven? Meaning are our decisions, products, services, etc. guided by our mission and our values?
- If not, we need to reassess our mission
#3 Formulate Your Strategy:
- What are the strategic issues we face? Those things that if we do not respond to will impact our growth, profitability, performance?
- This is where your strategic goals are created
#4 Map out the Implementation:
- How do we get there?
- What tactics will we utilize?
- What key stakeholders need to be involved?
- How will we know that we achieved our goals? (Key
Performance Indicators, action plans, plan report out)
Executing the Strategic Plan
Plan should be future-focused
Able to guide decision making at all levels of the organization
Directly aligned with your vision, mission and values
Goals and objectives should be clear
Should be accepted by those who have to implement/execute
Should identify timelines for progress report
Successful execution requires that the leadership continue to review the strategic plan, goals, and milestones to ensure adequate progress toward goal completion is being achieved. Do not let your strategic plan become a shelf plan.
Remember planning strategically is not something that is a one and done. Ensuring its effectiveness depends on regular analysis, review, and adjustments. Happy planning.