Planning Growth in Your Business
As you begin the process of starting to plan your business, there are some key questions that you need to answer in order to get started. The first question you’ll need to address is “where are we at right now?” This is vital to mapping out where you need to go since this helps map out the first steps you need to take in your strategic business planning. Another question you’ll need to address in getting started is “how did we arrive at this point?” This will help you understand some of your motivations as well as some your successes and failures which can help you manage your decision making for the future. The next question you’ll want to address is “where do we want to be?” This question provides direction for mapping out your course of action and the question will quickly be followed by “how do we get there?” which helps you manage the details. The last essential question is “are we on course to meet our goals?” The last question helps illuminate what you may need to change in order to meet your objectives.
Once you have answered the basic questions about your business you can start to frame your strategic business planning. Creating a business plan is the same as any strategic business planning and you’ll need to spend time and carefully consider the consequences of your actions. At the start of the strategic business planning process you’ll want to take the time to do an analysis of the external and internal environments in which business operates. When you are doing your examination of the internal and external environments you’ll want to pinpoint any trends in either environment that are opportunities or threat to your business. Part of the analysis is to develop a strong SWOT analysis of both environments. SWOT stands for strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats. In doing your SWOT, it is important to remember that understanding your present circumstances is the lead up to planning your future goals and objectives; therefore, it is of vital importance to be as honest as possible.
Next, you’ll want to define your mission statement, i.e., your reason for existence. You mission statement should encompass the scope your business and identify the distinguishing characteristics. Your mission statement should be simply and clearly stated but provide enough information that it will able tell and outsider what it is you do and how you do it.
From your mission statement, you should be able to start setting your objectives and formulating the approaches to meet those objectives. Your objectives should provide specific assertions of what you want to achieve. Your approach to meeting those objectives is called strategy. The strategies you use when doing your strategic business planning should provide you with the best methods for achievement. In short, you should explore the various strategies that could be used to meeting those goals before determining which you will include in your plan. You will want to go with the one that achieves your goals with the least amount of resistance, the least amount of required resources and/or with the one with the best projected results. The one that you will ultimately go with should consider the results of your SWOT analysis so that it capitalizes and works the best for you, your staff and your business or product.
Once you have decided on a strategy you will be able to decide on the details, or tactical plans, for meeting goals and objectives to be used as part of your strategic business planning. Tactics outlined in your business includes who, what, where and how your strategies will be implemented. This will include things such as the types of promotion you will have for your business, how long you will run the promotions, where they will be run and why, and the costs of running them. It will also provide the details of your pricing strategy including the details of how pricing was arrived at and an analysis of similar products already on the market. In addition, you tactics will need to include your method for production and distribution including locations and associated costs.
The final step is to create controls and monitors to ensure that you are staying on task to meet those goals and objectives. Creating monitoring strategies will help you determine whether strategic initiatives are being created out and whether resources are being allocated according to budget constraints. Some common methods of installing control are through the use of Gantt charts, budget implementation, use of management information systems (MIS) which is simply using computer and software data for analysis and decision making. You should be monitoring your business for success not or control, so that you are flexible enough to institute corrective action when plans or processes take you off course. Results need to be constantly evaluated so that long-term goals can be met and the business can continue to develop.