Tweak Your Biz » Growth » Before You Grow, What’s In Your Strategic Plan?

Before You Grow, What’s In Your Strategic Plan?



Quick question: where is your business going this year? In light of all the economic turmoil we’ve experienced in the last few years, there is a sense of pride that we’ve survived so far. The logical question is “what’s next?”.  How are you designing the next stage of your business?

To thrive = to grow?

Many small businesses are in a growth phase of one kind or another. Some are calling it a rebuilding phase. Others are seeing new opportunities. And still others are just fed up with the fear so they are going for the gold. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. It does matter if you think it through.

It’s the end of a quarter…time to review that strategic plan

Preparing for Growth

Even if you don’t have a strategic plan, it’s time to stop and take stock. Being clear about what you intend for your business is crucial to managing growth.  Usually, business owners review their strategic plan every 6 months or once a year. Given the uncertainty of the economic recovery, it may be necessary to keep a closer eye on the long term plan. While it is possible for circumstances to arise that change your plans, it is a lot easier to adapt a plan than to create a brand new one for every change that affects the long term trajectory of your small business. It’s worth the exercise and time of putting it down on paper so your action plan (operational plan) is easy to follow and entirely in alignment with what  you want most.

The most basic outline of  a strategic plan looks like this:

1. Mission statement and values- How are these still true? How has my (our) understanding of the mission and my values evolved? Am I (are we) living examples of the mission and the stated values?

2. Numbers and stuff- What is generating the most revenue? What is working well? What is not? What are our opportunities? Where are we strongest? Where are we weakest?

3. Vision- Where are we going this year? Where is your small business going in 3 years and 5 years? What change will your business create in the world?

4. Special qualities- What makes this small business sustainable? Who are the desired customers?  How do I (we) want to tell potential customers about my (our) small business? What do I (we) do that makes me (us) special to this customer?

5. How do I (we) know?- What goals did I (we)  meet during the first quarter? How are these goals measured?  What does the profit and loss statement say? What other sources of information tell me (us) about my (our) performance during the first quarter?

The strategic plan should lead you right into your action (operational) plan. It exists to focus the performance of the business and meld each part of the business into a coherent whole. As you set goals for marketing, sales, research and development, customer service and increasing revenues, everything should support the direction set in the strategic plan.

Now that’s in place and in writing, where is your business going this year?



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The Author:

Elli St.George Godfrey guides small business owners as they expand in their own community or internationally using her 3 Keys Coaching process helps clients not only navigate growth stages. With each stage of the 3 Keys coaching process, we tackle strategic planning, goal setting, managing change, organizational development and managing the stress and feelings of overwhelm that often plague small to mid-size business owners and executives. This results in clients feeling confident in identifying and developing strategies to be more effective leaders, plan more creatively, increase revenues and overcome the fears and obstacles that interfere with building thriving small to mid-sized businesses. I am also Chief Community Manager of Kaizen Biz and Host of Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz (a chat that uses the concept of "kaizen" for continual improvement in how we think and act in business). Please visit www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com/about/ to learn more and I look forward to meeting you in a complimentary coaching session. http://www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Elli, I think this is what just happened here at Bloggertone. We’ve looked at where we would like to take the community and site, what’s already working and what’s not, where we need to get to in the next few months and the longer-term opportunity that exists for everyone, readers, bloggers an the founders. We are already starting to see some pay offs as a result of undertaking this exercise. Thanks for sharing, Niall

  • Anonymous

    Niall,nnThat’s the beauty of this exercise. I often hear how busy small business owners are and I get like that too. However, without an overarching plan, we’re more like hamsters on a wheel. I look forward to seeing how Bloggertone blossoms over the long-term!

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com/category/business-plan-tips/ Ivan

    Hi Elli, nnFor me, it’s about brand building. Why? Because Google is rewarding brands as trusted sites and relegating others. Gotta get that brand out there :)

  • http://twitter.com/nexus451 nexus451

    Solid advice, Elli. Having gone through the growth/contraction cycle a couple of times I’d add the following to number 2 (Numbers & Stuff): budget. Any business has to know, as close as possible, what it costs to run on a month by month basis; that’s where any analysis of numbers and stuff has to start. nnThis is especially important for small businesses, being out by u20ac500 a month is a u20ac6k gap over a year – and for one-person / small business operation that can be hugely significant. The only way to do it is to record absolutely every expenditure over the course of at least three months – sometimes you’ll see where savings can be made, sometimes you’ll understand where savings MUST be made. nnKnowing, as early as possible, when things have become unsustainable will help you make better informed decisions – leaving things run their course and refusing to face up to tough decisions will only make things far far worse. nnOne thing I’ve learned over the years is that a sale isn’t a sale until the money is in the bank. No amount of promises or good intentions, from even the most normally reliable of clients, will pay the bills. Thankfully we’ve a enough clients who’ve stuck with us through thick and thin, but not every business is that lucky.

  • http://twitter.com/nexus451 nexus451

    Solid advice, Elli. Having gone through the growth/contraction cycle a couple of times I’d add the following to number 2 (Numbers & Stuff): budget. Any business has to know, as close as possible, what it costs to run on a month by month basis; that’s where any analysis of numbers and stuff has to start. nnThis is especially important for small businesses, being out by u20ac500 a month is a u20ac6k gap over a year – and for one-person / small business operation that can be hugely significant. The only way to do it is to record absolutely every expenditure over the course of at least three months – sometimes you’ll see where savings can be made, sometimes you’ll understand where savings MUST be made. nnKnowing, as early as possible, when things have become unsustainable will help you make better informed decisions – leaving things run their course and refusing to face up to tough decisions will only make things far far worse. nnOne thing I’ve learned over the years is that a sale isn’t a sale until the money is in the bank. No amount of promises or good intentions, from even the most normally reliable of clients, will pay the bills. Thankfully we’ve a enough clients who’ve stuck with us through thick and thin, but not every business is that lucky.

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree! Keeping good bookkeeping records is important so the budget can be based on real numbers. That u20ac6k over a year can catch up with a small business in a hurry! When we talk about running a lean business, we’re really talking about not only having accurate financial information but the strength to face challenges and make tough decisions. nnGlad to hear you’ve found a way to remain sustainable! Keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment, Ivan! It’s a lot easier to grow when people know you exist. Brand builidng is definitely a tool that requires us to remember SEO and keeping our online content fresh as well as the offline brand building activities.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    For me, most of the business clients that come to me because they are “stuck”, it is often because they perceive they do not know where to turn, but they often forget who they must turn to first – the CEO/Manager i.e. themselves!!nTrying to teach an old dog new tricks may be near impossible, but teaching oneself and keeping up with the ever changing world of business and sales, is surely easier if done on a continuous basis, that is there are no surprises and no “new” tricks, just better solutions.nnA great read on sales and consultative selling that really brings it together for the Owner/Manager is “Hope is not a strategy” by Rick Page, a must-read for non “sales” people who have to sell – whether a service, a personal brand, or a bespoke solution. We are all sales people, whether we like it or not ;)nnA great post Elli, thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment, Elaine! nnTruly you do have to start with yourself-the business owner! Thanks for the reading recommendation! Finding your way of doing sales is a crucial part of one’s strategic plan.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Derbhile. I suggest you also look at the search engine rankings of the forum as some do really well in searches and may provide valuable links back to your site for search engine optimization as well as bringing traffic. Just remember posting links to your own site may be prohibited by the forum or may be ‘no follow’ (most links in signatures are) and not provide as much seo value. You will have to be creative to include links to your site without appearing spammy. Build your relationships first and only post if relevant to the topic.

  • Nidhi

    Nice article Derbhile. I second your thoughts on building trust and relationship with others based on the value and help you can provide.Participation on forums is like Giver’s gain. The more you help others with your expertise the more you will gain. Thanks for sharing your views,Nidhi

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Hi Derbhile,nnOnline forums are excellent, because you are speaking to potential clients directly, when they have a concern. Even better – you can see and respond to their concern in real-time. I do find however, that you have to be super quick! Responses build up by the second and yours can easily become lost. nnAlso, if you are adding your email address, be careful – others take these and spam you (v.annoying). Responders can and do challenge you and may use negative comments – be strong and confident. Don’t lower yourself to their standards.nnThe signatures for trackbacks – also a good idea. Do check website policies though, as many sites approve comments and remove signatures. Some limit personal advertising until you have reached a certain number of responses.nnA note on time – forums are not a quick buck – they take time and require a sales technique which is not too pushy. But, they are worth investing time into (as you have mentioned – you’ve made money).

  • Bonzie

    Terrific Article Derbhile, very informative. nnThanks for sharing! nkind regardsnBonzie

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    I meant to add that I used Cork.ning network for a while and met a fab company down the road from me called Little Giggles – The girls and I have become great friends.nI also set up a mini section on website support and gained one client. nSo – it does work. You gotta give a lot, but you get a lot in return! : 0 )

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairu00e9ad Kelly

    Great post Derbhile. There are many forums for many sectors and it is important to pick the ones that suit your message and have your target market there. However when you are starting out with zero budget is can and often is a great way to build up contacts, which then convert to offline meetings and hopefully if not direct business, then referrals.

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Plenty of great advice there Des. Will check out Whitespark.nnHow would you keep track of all the pages that your business can claim? Do you think this activity is fair or ethical – to advertise a site without permission? Just curious.n

  • http://shanegarrison.com internet marketing blog

    I use forums all the time and they do work.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thanks Elaine & Happy New Year to you :)

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Sian Phillips

    Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Michael. It’s amazing how much technology can help with anything these days and streamline processes too. Thanks for sharing your tips with our readers

  • Eric Bryant

    It’s all about having a system in place. It can be a disaster if the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Having a CRM in place is a must. Great read Michael!. http://www.ericdbryant.com

  • Urmas Purde

    Hi Niall! Yes, I totally agree. Awareness comes first!

  • Eric Bryant

    Great Post Urmas. Sound advice about managing your sales pipeline and monitoring it from start to finish.
    Eric Bryant
    http://leverageyourtime.net

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Julie Dawn Harris

    Indeed, LinkedIn is an effective lead generation method especially for B2B lead generation and the ideal place to obtain new sales leads. It makes your work easy as you try to get information on your competitors. LinkedIn makes it possible to start building a relationship and a great way to share your knowledge and expertise.

  • http://about.me/Lindeskog lyceum1776

    You could also negotiate with your vendors, so you will get longer terms of payment, and thereby getting better cash flow.