As the year closes, you might find yourself imagining what could happen next. Just think…an untouched year of building on your existing foundation. Strategic planning is all about what your business will become and a crucial piece of preparation. So, why do so many of us believe myths about strategic planning that actually keep our companies from growing? Here are 7 myths to debunk in your own small to mid-sized business.
Myth 1: You only have to do it once a year.
Yes, it does make sense to do it at the end of your fiscal year or even the calendar year. However, strategic plans are change plans. New information comes to light or obstacles crop up. Plus, there is a tendency for motivation to flag partway through new projects because the process is slow and steady which can seem like drudgery.
Tip: Set up reviews every 6 months or even quarterly to make sure the overall business goals are clear and appropriate to build in adaptability and agility.
Myth 2: My business is too small to need a strategic plan. I know basically where we’re going.
Solopreneurs and micro-businesses set business goals all the time to make it easier to spend time away from work or to grow into a more robust organisation. Just because it’s in your head and you have a good grasp of your business environment doesn’t mean you won’t forget details or get distracted.
Tip: Write the answers to these questions and you have a basic strategic plan
1. Where are we now?
2. Where are we going?
3. How are we going to get there?
Myth 3: Strategic planning takes too long.
While it’s tempting to think there is truth to this myth, ultimately you will pay a steep price for not having a clear foundation for your goals. While you could just use the questions listed in the second myth, there is a lot to be gained from stepping back and dedicating a day or two to looking at the big picture. Noticing what your customers are telling (or not telling) you plus what is going on in your business environment could help you avert a crisis or grab an opportunity
Tip: Use a SWOT analysis or even a PESTEL analysis to create a more objective picture of your business
Myth 4: It’s not worth doing because it’s just a bunch of pretty words and not connected to reality
This is more an issue of leadership. There may be other things that are not getting done because there is little to no sense of accountability. If your strategic plan is not based on reality, there is a good chance that your business is just floating along without a clear direction from its leader(s).
Tip: Assign specific people to oversee each area identified in the strategic plan and then schedule regular reviews to hear how things are progressing.
Myth 5: I don’t know how to lead this process or even where to start
While it is easier to do with a trained facilitator, it isn’t completely necessary. Identify what was accomplished already, what you and your staff want to do next and then what actions steps can be implemented. Use the 5 Why’s to help you get started.
Tip: Ask for input from everyone or simply from those people in your company who always seem to know what’s going on. Set aside time for the designated group as a whole (you can make it fun with food, music, colour or clothes), assign a note-taker and then just write down what you all know. Use a timer to prevent getting bogged down in semantics and encourage people to research any information that is unknown or unclear. At the end, assign or ask people to take responsibility for a section of the plan so it is implemented
Myth 6: We have to think of every eventuality
Well, you won’t be able to do that. There is enough rapid change in the economy, technology and society that it is impossible to foresee everything. But you can anticipate the big stuff (and the known stuff). That’s why regularly scheduled reviews of the big picture is so beneficial.
Tip: Let this go. Making yourself and your team try to be superhuman is a waste of time. Use the available data and make your decisions accordingly.
Myth 7: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Stay positive
Fear is a remarkable thing. It can make us believe some crazy things. The reluctance to see what could have worked better (or even what did work better) and other potential accounting can feel like an ego deflator or some kind of backwards move. However, you cannot learn from failure, success or something in between without an acknowledging what has already happened.
Tip: Be a truthteller. Identify the activity, action or behaviour (without personalising it) and ask what lesson was learned and how it might be handled in the future.
Lots more myths about strategic planning
Truly there are! However, these are a good start. The most important thing to remember is that you can make your strategic plan a tool for growth. The challenge lies in whether or not you prefer to believe these seven myths about strategic planning and keep your business from growing.
What myths would you add to this list?
What other tips do you suggest to debunk the myths?
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