A great plan is only, well, great, if it’s backed by a great strategy – the more you plan and forecast for the future, especially when it comes to business endeavors, the more likely you are to succeed. Success doesn’t happen without some blood, sweat and tears, and neither does a solid strategic plan. It takes a great deal of research, discovery and participation to bring such a plan to fruition … but it’s well worth the effort.
Rea just went through the strategic planning process, and it was so eye-opening that we wanted to share the wealth. Before we tell you about our key takeaways, you really need to understand how important this type of plan is to your business’s future.
Want to learn more about the strategic planning process, and get a behind-the-scenes look at our plan? Check out episode 4: how to run with the big dogs on unsuitable on Rea Radio. You can also check out our 2015 annual report for even more great insight into The Rea Advantage, the strategic plan for our future.
As any business owner knows, it’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day operations and lose sight of the long-term goal. And if you aren’t focusing on your longterm goals, how can you expect the rest of your team to have a clear vision of your company’s future? That’s where a strategic plan comes in – it provides you and your employees with a sense of direction, which helps you when you make decisions and prioritize work.
Your strategic plan may seem like a moving target (and, in fact, should be), but having specific, constant goals in mind while running the operations of your business will add purpose to your daily grind. In other words: either you can run your day or you can let your day run you. Don’t choose the latter. Vocalizing your strategic plan will help you maintain control over your company and will align everyone under shared objectives.
1 ) Hire a consultant
Before rolling up your sleeves and getting to work, consider hiring a seasoned consultant to guide you through the process. It’s so important to have the voice of experience (along with an objective mind) to help manage the process and keep you on track.
2 ) Assemble a committee
The great adage that two minds are better than one rings true in this scenario. And three, four, five or six minds are even better. When you’re considering future goals for your company, seek diverse viewpoints and opinions from your employees, as well as thought leaders in your industry. When selecting your committee members, be sure to choose strong leaders. Your committee will be the cheerleaders of the plan when it’s time to share it with the rest of your company.
3 ) Develop the plan
There are many resources available to guide you as you build and implement your strategic plan. Do your research – Harvard Business Review has helpful tools, and don’t forget about our good friend, Google. There are also countless books about strategic planning. We took a lot of inspiration from Good to Great by Jim Collins. Start the strategic planning process with a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. Think about where you are, where you’d like to go and how you believe you can get there. What are you good at? Where do your passions lie? Do some research on industry standards to start; then, consider trends, the overall market environment and the growth strategies you may be able to implement to build your business.
Identify a peer or competitor in your industry – someone you admire – and investigate their secrets to success. In short, identify what you want to do better, and set a plan in place to achieve it.
Remember, the plan doesn’t have to be complicated to be impactful. Be sure you include measurable markers for success, and assign timeframes to achieve them … you need to be able to constantly evaluate progress.
4 ) Communicate, implement and measure success
Once you’ve built a plan that you’re satisfied with, share it with all of your employees – after all, that’s one of the main purposes of creating it in the first place. Everyone needs to be on the same page, headed in the same direction, for you to achieve the goals you’ve set forth. Share benchmarks with all employees, and provide regular progress reports.
One of the most important things to remember is that a strategic plan should never become stagnant … you need to constantly evaluate it, measure progress, reassess goals or timeframes if necessary, and continually keep the plan in line with the company’s objectives. Refer to it regularly, and update it often to keep your company moving confidently forward. And don’t forget to have some fun with it – this is an exciting time for your business. Enjoy the journey.