Strategic planning is essentially making the tough decisions on where to invest your business's resources (money, staff time, staff focus, customer attention) and where you won't invest your business's resources. Here are 10 tips to do it better.
1. What is your single biggest "limiting factor" inside your business? In other words, what one limitation is currently doing the most to limit the growth and success of your business? Getting clear on your limiting factor is one of your top leverage points inside of your business.
2. What are 10 potential ways to push back or make your limiting factors less limiting for your business? Again, this is the challenge worth solving. When you do solve it, you automatically grow your business in a leveraged way!
3. Go back through your list of 10 "solutions" and note each solution that is a "low hanging fruit." That means that the solution is either easy to implement or has a high likelihood of working.
4. Go back through your list of 10 "solutions" and note each solution that is a "home run". A home run is a solution that if it works, the payoff is BIG!
5. Determine your "sweet spots". Going back to your above list of 10 solutions to each of your limiting factors, circle the solutions that are both a low hanging fruit and a home run. These are your "sweet spots". By definition these are the critical areas you need to invest the best resources inside your business. They are easy to do/high likelihood of working and they have a BIG payoff.
6. Clarify the business you are trying to build. Too many business owners never stop and clarify in writing the business they are working so hard to create. What does your ideal business look like in 3-5 years? What does it look like quantitatively? (E.g. What are its sales figures?... Its market share?... Its margins?... The size of the average client?) What does it look like qualitatively? (E.g. What is it known for?... What niches does it focus on?... Who are its best customers?... What does the team look like?)
7. Work backwards from your target. If you are working to build a $5 million per year sales volume in the next five years, what number do you need to hit in four years? Three years? Then ask what steps do you need to take to reach each of your sub-goals/milestones along the way.
8. If you're not sure how to best reach your subgoals, brainstorm a long list of at least 10 potential ideas. Use the "sweet spot" technique I just shared to identify the highest leverage solutions to implement first.
9. Clearly identify who is going to be doing what, by when, and to what standard. How can you hold yourself or others accountable if you don't clearly articulate what each of you is responsible for.
10. Leverage the power of THREE. What are your top three strategic results you are looking to accomplish each quarter? There is a reason why I counsel business owners to pick a maximum of three strategic focuses each quarter on their quarterly plan of action -- any more would split their efforts and lead to overwhelm, and overwhelm leads to inaction or unfocused action. Be realistic as to what you can in fact do as a business each quarter. But be relentless in the discipline of creating your clarified action plan each and every quarter.
I hope these ideas help you take what you've accomplished so far in 2014 and invest them into making 2015 even better.
For more ideas on growing your business, including a free tool kit with 21 in-depth video trainings to help you scale your business and get your life back, click here.