What is strategic planning
Strategic planning helps you to build a long-term plan when you develop a brand and business strategies. Companies use this system to make sure they move forward with work in the right direction because seeing a wider perspective is crucial to keep track of the progress.
There is no universal method of strategic planning, but in principle is about setting up long-term goals and agreeing on what actions to take to achieve them.
What does the long-term plan really mean?
For some people who don’t like planning, even thinking about what they have to do tomorrow is hard work. But strategists’ role is to visualize how the company will look like in 10, 15, 20 years from now and divide the actions into important milestones to help it stay focused and move in the right direction.
Strategic planning definitely helps big players to make sure all their employees are on the same page, but does it mean the method is only for those who have big teams and endless budgets?
The answer is – NO.
Strategic planning for small business owners
Small business owners have to wear many hats. I know it very well from my own experience. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the number of daily tasks that pile up when you stop paying attention. Building your own purpose-driven brand may seem like a full-time job for a team of people and you have to often handle it all alone.
But there are tricks and tactics that you can learn to make your work more efficient and good organizing skills is one of them.
You can use strategic planning when you try to build your empire and make sure you put your energy in the right places.
Strategic planning has one more important benefit. It doesn’t cost you anything. Dividing tasks into smaller chunks can require time in the beginning but save you loads of it in the future. You can focus on daily actions that move a needle for you but at the same time lead you towards your long-term goals.
Interesting for you: A few things to remember while building a brand strategy
Imagine you run a sustainable fashion brand specialized in t-shirts for women who value an eco-friendly lifestyle. You have a mission to help them make a difference in the world by making their daily shopping choices more ethical. You know that what your customer expects and needs from you is to make the eco goods accessible, affordable, and the whole production more transparent. That’s why in seven years you want to have warehouses in 7 different European countries that sell locally made t-shirts and sell them online.
What does it mean in practice?
A clearer vision of how your business should look helps you to understand what actions to take in the given time, what tasks to fulfill to get where you want and make your clients happy. So what should you do next?
- Be reasonable – is 7 years enough to open 7 locations in 7 different countries? Even if the answer is ‘yes’, make sure you have a plan B.
- What milestones you should reach every year to make yourself closer to this dream scenario?
- Now you can focus on first-year from now. With these big goals, you can decide that the first is a trial phase where you evaluate the tactics which will help you make sure your original plan is doable.
- Now think about each quarter of the years – what do you have to do to move forward. It’s important to be specific. Think about numbers and dates. It will keep you motivated and most of all will help you to check how much you progress and if you stay on track.
- After planning out each quarter move to each month and repeat the process.
- Now divide your monthly goals to weeks. Focus on each week of the upcoming month and plan out the goals and tasks.
- Your days can be planned in a week in advance or along the way.
What are the benefits of strategic planning
Not only big business owners can benefit from being strategic. Small players with big ambitions can use it to plan their monthly and weekly tasks in advance. You can also use it to plan your private life. There is no limits. There are many benefits of strategic planning. To name just a few:
- Helps you think bigger
- Helps you to be more organized
- Prevents you from feeling overwhelmed
- Allow you to see the bigger picture
- You make sure you constantly move towards your goals
- You see what you already achieved and how far you’ve come
- It’s easier for you to jump back right on track in case you got lost
- You can evaluate your brand strategy faster
What else you should know about strategic planning
- Be realistic – when setting up your goals make sure you think about a realistic time frame. It’s usually difficult for new business owners, but you will master it.
- Stay flexible – staying consistent with your plans is very important, but observing what’s going on around you is equally crucial. Remember that you can change your mind and move in a different direction if something doesn’t work for you or doesn’t bring you joy. But make sure your reason makes sense for the business. Building a brand takes time and crises happen along the way. You need patience. Don’t let them discourage you from pursuing your dreams.
- Be brave with your visions – sometimes we underestimate ourselves and this is often the reason why we don’t dream big. We are afraid we going to fail and feel disappointed. Remember, and almost everything is doable. Dreaming big is the first step to success.
- Work on your habits – planning is a skill. It needs time to actually start to be a part of your daily routine. You can try to connect it to other recurring activities – like eating breakfast. It’s going to be easier for you to incorporate it into your daily life.
- Be kind – don’t be hard for yourself when things don’t go in the way you wanted. Instead, sit down and think about why it happened and what you can improve. Sometimes we don’t have control over the things around us. So instead of going against the current, you can find a way to make the current works for you.