Many small businesses make the mistake of having a strategic planning session without ever accomplishing much of anything. Although business leaders write down goals, they don’t include specific ways to meet them or measure their effectiveness. While intentions are good, the problem usually boils down to not having a specific strategic planning method in place. This can make for a lot of inefficiency and wasted time. Fortunately, it’s possible to learn methods to make strategic planning far more effective.
Start by Identifying Company Stakeholders
It’s likely that more people have a vested financial interest in your company than you realize. It’s also possible that one person holds multiple roles such as employee and shareholder. Before you start planning strategy, make sure you identify every stakeholder who would be affected by it as well as in what capacity.
Determine Target Customers
How well do you understand the audience you’re trying to reach? For example, is it the average consumer of inexpensive electronics or a company who buys those electronics wholesale and then resells them? Knowing your target customers is essential in creating a strategy to reach them most effectively. The danger in having an undefined and broad customer base is that your company simply can’t cater to everyone.
Determine What Your Company Needs from Every Stakeholder
CEOs and other people in leadership positions are often trained to keep stakeholders happy rather than consider that each stakeholder should also be giving something to the company. For example, if the stakeholder is also an employee, your human resources department should not be the only one doing the giving. The individual stakeholder should also understand his or her own responsibilities in contributing towards the success of the organization. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open and ensure that each party always knows what the other expects.
How Can You Best Support Your Stakeholders?
At this stage of the strategic planning process, make sure that you know what each of your company’s stakeholders needs to continue contributing to its success. It’s important to understand what motivates them to work for, buy from, or invest money in your company. Considering the stakeholder viewpoint is essential to forming an equally satisfying working relationship. You can learn more about the motivations of each person by conducting an in-depth interview, holding focus groups, and regularly asking for feedback.
It’s Time to Start Seriously Considering Strategy
Once you have created a list of strategic factors for each stakeholder group, consider revisiting which customer group your company most wants to reach. You now have more information about the needs and goals of stakeholders as well as input from your own leadership board. This question can also become part of your mission statement if you don’t already have one.
Commit to Ongoing Improvement
After going through such a long process to put a strategic growth plan in place, it would be nice if you received the exact responses you expect. Unfortunately, this isn’t a realistic approach. You must be prepared to continually improve your company strategy to ensure the best results for employees, stakeholders, management, and customers.
If you’d like to review the strategic planning strategy for your business, Business Partner Alliance is here for you. We provide targeted coaching, consulting and business advisory services to help small and medium sized business owners achieve new heights. We put our passion and experience to work to help business people achieve their goals. Let’s meet for coffee to see how we can work together.