Successful Strategic Planning

For a small business, the strategic planning process doesn’t have to be complicated and to prove this, we’ve put together some of our best tips for developing an effective plan.

Developing a strategic plan will allow you to determine your goals for the future of your business and then decide how you’ll go about achieving them. In a small business, it’s often difficult to find ‘thinking time’ and put time aside for strategic planning when you’re constantly caught up in the running of day to day operations. However, this is an important exercise, especially if you want to grow your business. Things may be ticking over nicely, or not as the case may be, but either way setting out your expectations and aspirations and deciding what’s realistic over the next year or so will prevent you from falling into the trap of keeping things as they are because that’s the easy option.

John Telfer, Managing Director of INSPIRING, comments: “Setting the strategic direction of the business is only part of the job. Clarity and clear line of sight for all staff is just as important to ensure cohesion”.

For a small business, the strategic planning process doesn’t have to be complicated and to prove this, we’ve put together some of our best tips for developing an effective plan.

Start with your mission, vision and values

You’ve probably already determined these, but if you haven’t here are some pointers. A vision statement should challenge and inspire both your organisation and individual team members to achieve your business goals. A mission statement describes the “what” and “why” of your business and identifies your organisation to its customers and the outside world. If you have these already, revisit and redefine them because as your business changes so should your mission and vision. Your values are the only thing that should be constant, as they define how you conduct your business and how you expect your people to interact with others.

Make sure you get the right people involved in the strategic planning process

You should have input from team members across all areas of your business, which may include finance, customer services, human resources, quality management, sales and marketing. As a leader, you’ll have in mind your own overall business goals, but listen to your team and remain open to their ideas and suggestions as they’ll each bring valuable operational knowledge to the table.

Give your strategic plan the time and attention it deserves

What’s worked well for own business, and many of the organisations we’ve worked with over the years, is taking time away from the usual workplace and spending a few hours or a day in a room somewhere, away from distractions of phones and emails. In fact, you could even switch your mobiles off for a while and revert back to a good old flipchart!

Time is valuable so plan your meeting effectively

Brainstorming is great and gives us a chance to explore different ideas, but make sure you don’t all go off on a tangent. Put together an outline of all the aspects of your business that you want your plan to cover and appoint a chairperson to keep time and to make sure you address them all within the meeting. You could ask your team to consider a number of questions before the meeting and come prepared, for example: ‘What’s working and what’s not?’; ‘Are our customers getting the best service?’ or ‘Are our employees engaged and productive?’

Make sure your plan is achievable and visible

When you’ve discussed and agreed your goals, spend time developing them into SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely in case you’d forgotten!).  Place an agreed level of importance to each of your goals and objectives so that you can set deadlines and plan how and when you’re going focus on them throughout the year (or whatever period you’re plan is for). Include monthly initiatives which will help keep your plan active and moving in the right direction. Don’t let all your time and effort go to waste by letting it fall by the wayside when you get back to your daily business.


INSPIRING Business Performance provides practical advice, business information tools and training programmes for organisations who want to improve employee engagement, develop their leaders and managers or look at organisational development. If you would like to speak to us about strategic planning or any other area of business development, call us on 0800 612 3098 or get in touch using the enquiry form on the left. We would be happy arrange for one of our consultants to meet up with you for an informal chat.

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