Growing a business requires a great deal of hard work and perseverance. But there’s more to it than that. Good leaders set aside time to look to the long-term and plan strategically. Then, they can guide their business’s growth, no matter what challenges they face.
But this isn’t just for large corporations. If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, you need to be spending time on strategic planning in order to grow your business.
Proactive vs. Reactive
Without strategic planning, you’re always on the defense. You can only react to what happens in a way that reduces risk and puts your business in the most favorable position possible. The idea behind strategic planning is to be proactive rather than reactive. It involves seeking challenges to face and developing contingency plans for obstacles you will need to overcome along the way.
Your Business’s Long-Term Plan
How far ahead do you think into the future? You probably have a solid plan for this month or this quarter, but what about a year from now? What about five or even ten years from now?
Long-range business planning starts with spending time looking into the future. Decide where you want to be in one year, five years, and ten years. Imagine what your business will be like at that time. Visualizing it in concrete terms helps you set goals and develop a plan for achieving those goals.
Make Your Goals SMART
Your goals for the future should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For example, rather than saying that you’d like to have more clients, choose a number and decide by when you’ll have this done. Research shows that making goals specific and set with deadlines makes them more likely to be reached.
Strategic Questions and Contingency Plans
With your picture of the future visualized and goals set, it’s time to start thinking about contingency plans. You should have a plan for any unexpected setback that could happen along the way. For instance, if there’s some change in the market, you don’t want it to take you entirely by surprise. You should have a Plan B already drawn up and ready to go.
Brainstorm things that could happen. Imagine you’re a skeptic hearing about your long-term plans. What questions might they ask you to challenge you? Ask yourself these questions so that you’ll think realistically about what could potentially happen in the future.
Define Your Company Vision
If you haven’t already done so, define your company’s vision. Explain how your business helps your customers and clients in a unique way. Frame this as a statement of around 100 words. This will help you clarify your vision for the future and keep you on target as you work toward your goals.
Man Makes Plans and God Laughs
There’s one great paradox of business planning. You can’t move forward without a solid plan, but plans are liable to change. But with a good plan and a clearly defined vision, you can get started knowing where you want to go. Keep your eyes open for changes in the market and then adjust your plan accordingly. This is how you grow and steer your business toward success.