Successful strategic planning for the small business owner

A lack of robust strategic planning is not unusual for a small business owners with many other pressing issues to deal with and plan for. Create a strategic planning process that is geared toward aligning the company’s various activities or processes with common goals.

Here are five keys for strategic planning:

  1. Follow the SWOT: The strategies need to address the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Opportunities and threats are the biggest areas of focus. But ensuring that the company’s strengths continue to provide competitive differentiation also is key.
  2. Keep it simple: The number of strategies should be minimized. If you have any more than five or six, it is very hard to stay focused.
  3. Make the strategies measurable: It is difficult to gauge progress without measurable data. You have to constantly look at how you are doing and provide feedback. Customer or client feedback is a key measurable. Based on these metrics, high-performing teams are identified and receive rewards. Their best practices are replicated throughout the company.
  4. Align operations and management to the strategy: Those are their goals for the year. Having executives develop their own tactics to accomplish the strategies can create motivation – and so can tying their bonuses to how well they meet those goals.
  5. Be flexible: If the strategy is not working or conditions change, there has to be an allowance for the strategy to change.