Taking your business to the next level often requires a fresh look at how it operates. The best way to gain new perspective and take charge of your business’s growth is with strategic planning, a process that allows you to identify goals for future success. While it may be difficult to step away from day-to-day operations and ponder where your business is headed, effective growth strategies will help you manage the challenges that come with growing a company and put your plan into action.
Typically, the first step in strategic planning is to define your long-term goals and objectives. It’s important to be objective when completing this stage and to understand the competitive landscape of your industry in order to set realistic, measurable and achievable objectives.
Once the top-level objectives are defined, it is essential to create a timeline and assign responsibilities for reaching your business’s short-term and yearly goals. This is where the tactics and techniques you will use throughout the duration of your plan come into play and should be clearly communicated to all participants.
It’s also worth considering whether you need to delegate any responsibilities or tasks that aren’t in line with your overall strategic vision to others, either temporarily or permanently. A good strategic planner will be able to direct the process efficiently, collect diverse opinions and information and help your team make decisions based on a thorough understanding of the implications of each strategic option.
After the strategic planning process is complete, it is recommended that a plan be reviewed on an ongoing basis in order to ensure that the goals and objectives you’ve identified are being met. This can be done on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the needs of your business and its long-term goals.
The use of a professional strategic planner can save your organization time and money and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. A professional has worked with many other businesses in the past and knows how to quickly and effectively collect and analyze diverse information, prevent participants from getting bogged down by side issues, and objectively help your team resolve disagreements.
While the initial strategic planning process is usually led by senior leadership, it’s also common for the entire company to become involved in the implementation of the plan and monitoring progress. This helps everyone feel like they are an integral part of the bigger picture and that their work has value, which ultimately leads to increased employee morale.
One example of a strategic plan is the oncology group at Oncology Associates in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At the beginning of their face-to-face planning meeting, each oncologist is asked to share his or her personal perspectives on the practice. This information is then shared with the rest of the group, providing each member with a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for the outcomes of the strategic planning process. This translates into a higher commitment to actualizing the business’s goals, and ultimately the achievement of its vision.