If you are a seat-of-the-pants entrepreneur, then strategic planning can make you feel like a fish out of water. However, strategic planning is neither boring nor unimportant. In fact, it's necessary to help you assess where your business currently stands, and how to push forward toward your goals.
Creating a Vision
The key to strategic planning for any business is the owner's vision. You, as an entrepreneur, need to put together a realistic vision for your business. This vision or goal structure should reflect about a 3 to 5 year period of time from where you are now. You can make this process innovative and interesting by making it a more interactive process with your management group.
One way to do this is to turn the process of creating a vision in to a game. In this game, each one of your management personnel or departments enacts a goal or vision of your company. Each of the goals is noted and brainstormed in detail after each enactment. The brainstorming helps bring out the realistic part of each goal and weed out the unnecessary ideas, giving you a strong goal you can use as a base for further planning.
There is a subtle difference between goals and objectives. Your goal might be to be the #1 company in your industry, but your objective is the reason you have behind this goal. It's vital that your objectives are clearly laid down. If you haven't done so already, creating a company mission statement is one of the best ways to firmly plant your vision and goal for your company in a way that's accessible to your entire staff.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis helps you look critically at your business and understand your company's strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities well. This is an eye-opener for many entrepreneurs and is also the most useful tool of strategic planning. Optimum utilization of your strengths, appropriate planning to curb weakness, and the excitement to explore more opportunities is the result of a good SWOT analysis.
Set Short Strategies
Though strategies can feel binding to a seat-of-the-pants entrepreneur, strategic planning can be approached more innovatively to help you alleviate the clash of strategies you may be feeling. A good way to utilize your impulsive thinking to further your business, without diverting from the main strategy, is to break them down in to shorter ones. Develop shorter strategies that range from six to eight months that are also included in the bigger picture. This nurtures both clarity and innovation in your organization and at the same time, achieves the objectives of your business.
Use Strategy Worksheets
Strategic planning may sound like a lot of work, especially when you are already running in a million directions with the growth of your business, but using strategic planning techniques can actually help you become more organized and therefore increase your productivity overall.
Strategic planning is a great way to advance your business and achieve your goals over a long period of time. Being a seat-of-the-pants entrepreneur, it might feel difficult at first, but stick with it and you will soon see the reward of using strategic planning throughout every department of your company.