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Making A Strategic Plan For Your Small Or Medium Business - Articles Surfing

A Good Strategic Plan, enthusiastically executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.

I.What is a Strategic Plan?

Business Owners or Managers are often so preoccupied with day to day immediate issues in their business they lose sight of their ultimate objectives. Taking a step back and reviewing their business is essential. There is no guarantee of success, but without it a business is much more likely to fail. A strategic plan is NOT a Business Plan. It is likely to be a very short or short document whereas a Business Plan is very detailed and much more substantial. A sound plan will:

*Serve as a framework for making decisions or for securing future support or approval as required

*Provide a basis for more detailed planning

*Explain the business to others in order to inform, involve and motivate

*Assist in performance monitoring or benchmarking as required

*Stimulate change, and become a foundation for the next plan

II.Why make a Strategic Plan?

Making a Strategic Plan is an exciting exercise, and gets the adrenaline going! It should be visionary, conceptual and directional, and because it must be realistic and attainable too, it will provide owners and/or managers to think strategically and act operationally. Being able to think strategically means that, when you make decisions and choices, you settle for the best strategic option. Operational issues are all taken care of, but without having to think too hard about it, you ensure that your decisions and choices are supportive of your long term strategic objectives.

Setting goals and focusing on them causes these goals to become subconscious drivers that guide your actions. Doing this in terms of a structured strategic planning system, means that you will tend to steer your business in the right direction all the time, and you will do this without consciously thinking about it.

Starting with developing a Vision and working from there means that the Vision becomes firmly entrenched in how you think about your business, and becomes a subconscious part of your thinking process.

The effect can be really powerful and rewarding. By putting the necessary effort into creating a comprehensive Vision and building on it, you become a strategic thinker. Taking the right strategic action becomes easy.

III.What is involved?

A critical review of past performance by Owners and/or Managers of a business, and the preparation of even a short Strategic Plan beyond the normal annual budgetary horizon requires the type of thinking described above. Some essential points which should be observed during the review and planning process include the following:

*Consider the medium term of 3-5 years

*It must be undertaken by Owners/Directors

*It must focus on matters of strategic importance

*It must take place outside normal day to day work

*It must be realistic, detached and critical

*It must be written down

*It must be reviewed periodically

IV.What does it contain?

In developing a Strategic Plan, it is necessary to clearly identify the current status of the existing business, its objectives and strategies. Correctly defined, these can be used as the basis for a critical examination to probe existing or perceived Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Also forming part of a Strategic Plan are the following requirements:

*Vision

*Mission

*Strategic themes

*Strategic Objectives

*Measures or Key Performance Indicators

*Targets or Goals

*Initiatives or Action Plans

V.Summary

The preparation of a plan is a multi step process, but is not difficult to carry out, and can be done reasonably quickly. For business Owners who want to drive their businesses to the next level, a plan for the future is essential.

Submitted by:

Bob Pearce

Following a career as a Naval Officer and many years in Senior Management positions, and in Small Business mentoring, Bob uses that experience to help business Owners create successful businesses. His website http://www.strategic-business-plan-4u.com also contains free business information.



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