Your Business Foundation – Part 4 – Annual Strategic Planning

April 22, 2009

The business plan becomes the basis for your strategic planning process. On an annual basis, you should:

  1. Review your business plan
    1. Revisit your mission and vision. Are you fulfilling your business purpose?
    2. Review your company performance. Are you meeting your objectives?
  2. Analyze your business. I recommend a SWOT analysis of each of the following areas.
    1. Markets – who are you serving? How well are you serving them?
    2. Assets – what are the most valuable assets? Are they being captured? Grown?
    3. Organization – are you structured to execute the business plans?
  3. Make plans accordingly.
    1. Set (or continue) directions and objectives.
    2. Just as important to determine what you aren’t going to do

 Note that you don’t have to work out every detail and step, just create a clear picture by which management can lead the company.

Get Away from the Office

When conducting your strategic planning, it is worth the formality of an annual meeting. It is your business, so it is important enough to take some time once a year to plan for its future. There is a huge difference between the daily management of your business and strategic planning. By getting away from the office, you can avoid the interruptions and distractions of your daily management responsibilities. It also creates a more open environment to have frank discussions about the business.

Another benefit of an annual meeting is that it provides the opportunity to make adjustments to the company’s plans and operations. It gives you the opportunity to say, ‘we met with the board, and have decided that ….’

Get an Outside Perspective

Speaking of ‘the board’, it also raises the issue of who should be involved in your annual strategic planning process. If the ownership resides completely within the current management of the company, than it is an excellent idea to involve external people. Note that it doesn’t necessarily involve ownership, just an outside perspective — someone who is not involved in the daily company operations to test your ideas. For one thing, it will keep you honest and force you to create and justify your business plans. You’ll have someone to challenge your assumptions and offer fresh perspective.

If you don’t have external ownership with a vested interest, here are some potential advisors:

  1. Vendor or customer – need to be careful about potential conflict of interest
  2. Perhaps, a business person in your community that you respect and admire. Don’t know one. Ask you banker.
  3. SCORE – Service Corps of Retired Executives
  4. Exotek – very knowledgeable about business, but more likely as a facilitator

Next, we’ll talk about putting your strategic plan into action.