2024 is just around the corner, and it’s time to start planning ahead for a successful year. Success is not just about staying ahead of the curve; it’s about creating the curve. As a business owner, having a strategic plan in place is essential for achieving your goals.

According to Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, people are 42% more likely to carry out their goals just by writing them down.

In this article, we’ll outline a 6-step strategic plan that will help you easily build a strategic plan you can follow to achieve success in 2024 and beyond.

business owners discussing strategic plan

What is Strategic Planning?

A strategic plan serves as a blueprint for your company’s future by outlining the direction it will take over the next two to five years. It encompasses your company’s vision, mission statements, goals, and the necessary actions to accomplish them.

It should include 6 overarching steps:

  1. Define where you see yourself on a defined date in the future (usually somewhere between 2 and 5 years’ time)
  2. Assess where you are now
  3. Identify the numbers you need to hit to get from where you are now to where you want to be
  4. Determine what you need to do to get from where you are now to where you want to be
  5. Define what is stopping you from doing those things
  6. Manage, measure and evaluate

Do I need a strategic plan? 

Creating a strategic plan is crucial to ensure your whole team is on the same page. It provides a clear roadmap from the initial vision to meeting your goals. Just like baking a cake with a team, a strategic plan requires collaboration and well-defined steps to ensure the desired outcome reflects the initial goals.

Here’s how to build and structure your strategic plan…

How to get everything you ever wanted from your business

Book a strategic planning session and we will take you through all the steps, with our expertise,
to help you build an action plan to take your business from where it is now to where you want it to be.

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Step 1 – Define where you see yourself in 2 to 5 years’ time

The first step in creating a strategic plan is to define your long-term vision. Visualise where you want your business to be in the next 2-5 years’. Consider your core values, mission statement, and the broader impact you want to make.

This step requires you to dream big and be creative.

Write down your vision statement. This should be concise, inspiring, and aligned with your values. Your vision statement will be your guide through the entire strategic planning process. This is what you’re aiming towards.

Step 2 – Assess where you are now

In comparison to where you want to be, where are you now?

When conducting a strategic planning session, one client replied to us “a complete and utter shambles”.

Whilst that may be true, we need to dig deeper here. Conduct a comprehensive analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – a SWOT analysis. Do this both for your internal environment and your external environment.

Internally, evaluate your company resources, capabilities and competencies. Identify what sets you apart from your competitors and what areas need improvement.

Externally, analyse market trends, customer preferences, and what your competitors are doing. Identify emerging opportunities and potential threats that could impact your business.

Additionally, if you have the time, gather data and insights from your customers. Conduct surveys, interviews and market research to gain a deeper understanding of your target market and customer needs. Information on your ideal customer will help you make informed decisions and develop strategies that are tailored to meet the demands on your customers and ultimately stay ahead of your competition.

Step 3 – Identify the numbers you need to hit to get from where you are now to where you want to be

Next, set some specific goals and objectives that will help you realise your vision. Ensure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Once you have your long-term goals, break these down into smaller, manageable milestones that can be easily tracked. Use these to set weekly, monthly or quarterly Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This will make your goals more tangible and easier to achieve.

This is a good place to involve key stakeholders like your employees and also share your vision with your Accountant (and business adviser). Your accountant can play a key role in helping your realise your vision and help you make the steps to get there. Plus they’re a great sounding board for ideas!

Step 4 – Determine what you need to do to get where you want to be

With a clear understanding of your current situation and the numbers you need to hit to bridge that gap between your vision and reality, it’s time to build the action plan.

Identify actions required to achieve your goals. These initiatives should be aligned with your vision, address your weaknesses, leverage your strengths, capitalise on opportunities, and mitigate threats.

Then prioritise these actions based on those which have ‘easy wins’. Break each one down into actionable steps and assign responsibilities to individuals or teams within your business.

Each strategic initiative should be broken down into specific tasks and actions, with clear timelines and milestones, assigned to individuals or teams within your business.

But what’s stopping you from making these ‘easy wins’?…

Step 5 – Define what is stopping you from doing those things

Identifying and addressing barriers and obstacles is a critical part of the strategic planning process. There will always be limiting factors impacting the action plan you’ve just devised. For example, it may be that upon building your action plan, you realise your understaffed.

Once you have identified your limiting factors, brainstorm potential solutions and develop strategies to overcome them. This may involve investing in employee training and development, seeking external funding or partnerships, or lobbying for regulatory changes.

Once you have defined your limiting factors use our 60:30:10 rule to overcome those limiting factors.

This is where you spend 60% of your strategic time on the most pressing issue, 30% of your time on the issue which will become the most pressing , and 10% of your time on the one that follows. Read our case study here to see how it works in practice.

So, in this example, your limiting factor is you need more staff. But the next problem is, you have no space for them. So your 60:30:10 would look like:

  • 60% of time was spent seeking out and organising premises, whilst
  • 30% of time was spent getting a significant recruitment programme underway
  • Meanwhile, 10% of time was spent on documenting the management roles and responsibilities ready for the planned expansion

This step is crucial to ensure that you have the necessary means to achieve your strategic goals.

Step 6 – Manage, measure and evaluate  

Once your plan is set into motion, it’s important to actively manage (and measure) progress. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure progress towards your strategic goals. Regularly monitor and track your KPIs to assess the effectiveness of your strategic initiatives and make necessary adjustments if needed.

The benefits of strategic planning

Strategic planning can help with goal setting by allowing you to explain how your company will move towards your mission and vision statements in the next two to five years. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

  • Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go
  • Define long-term goals, and then set shorter-term goals to support them
  • Assess your current situation and any opportunities—or threats
  • Increase value of your business because you’re thinking long-term
  • Align your team and increase motivation and engagement

Strategic planning is a vital process that helps businesses define their vision, set goals, and develop strategies to achieve them.

By following the five essential steps outlined in this article – defining your vision, assessing your current situation, determining the required actions, addressing barriers, and setting clear actions and responsibilities – you can create a strategic plan that will guide your business towards long-term success.

Remember to regularly review and update your strategic plan, as the business landscape is constantly evolving. Embrace change, be flexible, and continuously innovate to stay ahead of the competition.

Book a strategic planning session

You don’t need to do this alone. We regularly run strategic planning sessions with our clients, that can last half a day, a full day or longer where more support is needed. Email us at enquiries@a4g-llp.co.uk or call 01474 853 856 to book a free 1-2-1 to discover how we can help you with strategic planning.

P.S. Watch our videos on how to use the 60:30:10 within your business, including a case study of how we helped one of our clients here.

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