Strategic planning can be challenging for businesses, but it is also worthwhile.
- Challenging because you have to work with uncertainty.
- Challenging because you have to think of the future and not the present.
- Challenging because you leave yourself open to criticism by stating a opinion.
- Worthwhile because your business will benefit from having a clear direction that guides it.
What that means is that you need to take on a challenging thing like strategic planning in your business if you want to create long term success.
We all know that business leaders have lots on their plate, running a business day-to-day is hard already.
But, by taking the time – weekly, biweekly, monthly to manage your strategic direction you’ll find yourself happier and more successful.
Planning your time, planning your resources, and planning the direction of your business will get you closer to your goal, than you would without a plan.
“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” ~ Harvey Mackay
Imagine 2 ships sailing in the high seas:
A little schooner with one or two people on it; and a huge tanker, couple of hundred feet long, weighing thousands of metric tonnes, and carrying a large crew.
They both have the same destination in mind and they are sailing straight to it on the open ocean. Suddenly, the captains get word that there is something interesting off course they might want to explore…
As the Captain of the ship, what do you do?
If you are in a small ship, you might think that you are quick and nimble and it’s easy to make deviations to your course.
If you are in a big ship, you might think that it takes a huge amount of work from yourself and your team.
In both cases, you are going off course, and against your original plan.
As a small business owner, it’s easy to take tiny deviations because you are nimble and adaptable.
While I think trying new things is important to your growth and success, being distracted from the original goal by other opportunities and activities can do real harm to your business.
As a larger business owner, many people depend on your decisions and making sudden changes takes a lot of work.
Are you and your people ready for this change of direction, and everything that comes with it?
Do you have a good reason to make those changes?
Are these changes guided by research or by impulse?
Sometimes there are very good reasons to change the direction that you are going.
Opportunities and threats may force you to change what you are doing.
For example: an iceberg is a very good reason as a ship’s captain, to change your course.
Sometimes you can’t plan for that iceberg, sometimes you can.
“Give us clear vision, that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” ~ Peter Marshall, US Senate Chaplain 1947
There is a reason for business plans, mission statements and vision statements.
They not only to give us more work; they set our course, so that we know where we are going as a business.
Taking the decision making process with a short, and long term vision will help you and your people be prepared when changes (like an iceberg, or a new competitor) happen.
Obviously things change:
People change, Technology changes, and Business Changes.
That’s why we have strategic planning, to plan your business action steps in the short term, medium term and long term.
As entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get encompassed by the things that we have in front of us, or tempted by the world of possibility.
Incorporating strategic planning in to your business will help you keep a steady course, and help guide your business around obstacles and distractions on your path to success.