New financial year, new goals
(Part 1 in our strategic planning series)
"There are 3 types of businesses…those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened."
The importance of developing and managing a focused Strategic Plan cannot be overstated and is a determinant in the success or failure of many businesses. Spending your time reacting to unexpected changes, instead of anticipating and preparing for them, leaves you off guard and having to use a great deal of energy playing catch up and managing crisis after crisis. Simply coping with your immediate challenges leaves little time to anticipate and prepare for the next challenge. It’s a vicious cycle that can lock you into a reactive position.
Why is strategic planning so important?
Strategic Planning provides an opportunity to influence the future and assume a proactive position. It provides focus, direction and purpose to your everyday business activities. Strategic planning is not a short term solution, rather it is a long term commitment to ‘big picture’ goals which will ultimately change your current position. A comprehensive Strategic Plan will also communicate your mission to everyone involved in your business and breaks down your big picture into actionable goals and objectives. It can also help business owners and management teams determine where to spend time, how best to use human capital and where to concentrate funding.
I have a general idea of where I’m going so do I really need a structured process?
The short answer is…YES!
Most businesses will have some kind of plan and underlying strategy in place, even if a formal and documented planning process has not occurred. Strategies and goals may come about by accident or through an evolutionary process in the business. The strongest organisations though do not allow direction to be determined by accident. A clear and focused plan, which is managed and modified regularly, is the hallmark of a successful business.
Developing and managing a Strategic Plan takes discipline, foresight and honesty. You’ll need to look at your business like you’ve never looked at it before. While the overall goal of strategic planning is to produce a workable plan to direct capital and resources, there is value simply in the process itself. Taking time to step back and think about your business objectively is a beneficial process for your whole team.
Our tips for strategic thinking
Your plan will have a greater chance of successful implementation if you keep the following in mind:
- If you’re going to take the time to do it, make sure you do it right. Don’t develop a plan because common sense says (or we say) you should have one, because you’ll only get out of the process what you put into it.
- Try very hard to forget about the way your business has always done things, and the way you are currently do things. Strategic planning requires an open mind and objective thinking. Start with a clean slate and think creatively.
- You must be fully committed and understand how the plan will improve your business. A clear picture of the end result will help you maintain your vision and give you the energy to keep the plan alive and operational.
- Staff responsible for implementing the plan should be on board from the onset to ensure they feel ownership of the process.
- To be an effective management tool, a plan must be used and continually reviewed. After all your hard work putting it together, don’t put it in a drawer to be forgotten about. Think of the planning process as a continuous cycle to be reviewed and adjusted each quarter.
Our strategic planning series is designed to assist your business in developing a Strategic Plan for the future. It encourages you to make a rigorous assessment of where your business is now, and what options may be available in the short and long term. If at any time you need assistance, or simply need clarification that you are on the right track, a Marsh & Partners advisor can guide you through any stage of the process.
Our next article in the series will guide you through the key stages of strategic planning and look at the 3 big questions…
Where are you now?
Where do you want to be?
What do you need to get there?