You have been considering starting up your own small business for some time, now.
You have read books and perhaps subscribe to some magazines that focus on small business. Maybe you have started to investigate what exactly you would like to do or offer, and perhaps even started working on your business plan. Then you get stuck.
In order to successfully get a business up and running, you have to have a plan, and a strategy to make that plan become reality. Working through the difficult and insightful steps to set up that strategy is what will make the difference between your dream continuing to be just a dream and making that dream turn into reality.
When you create your business plan, you create your company mission and vision statements. From there, you need to create all the details on how you will implement strategies to accomplish your mission. Your strategic plan, I like to call marketing plan, will be your game plan for how you will run your business, how you will strengthen your competitive position in your industry or location, how you will best satisfy your customers or clients and how you will achieve your performance targets you set up.
In creating your strategy, you will answer three big questions:
• Where are you now?
• Where do you want to go?
• How will you get there?
We are going to look at the five tasks involved in creating your strategic plans to answer these questions, which include:
1. Define your business, create your vision and mission statement
2. Set measurable objectives
3. Craft your strategies to achieve your objectives
4. Implement your strategies
5. Evaluate the results of your strategies and take corrective action
1 – Define your business, create your vision and mission statement
What do you want to do? What do you have a passion for? Who do you want to be known as? Where do you want to be in 10 years? These are all questions to help you determine your vision and mission. I offer a one-hour audio course on how to look at your unique brilliance to answer some of these questions. The advantage of becoming very clear about who you are and what you have to offer is that it will help you avoid going in so many different directions that people will be unclear exactly what it is you excel at. Every potential client or customer wants to see the person who is best at what they have to offer. If you offer everything to everyone, you won’t stand out. Once you set up long-term goals, you will also have a template that will keep you focused and on the right path to achieve those goals.
2 – Set measurable objectives
The purpose of setting objectives is to create a yardstick with which to track the performance targets set up in the mission statement of your company. These objectives should be challenging but achievable, so that you have to stretch yourself in order to be innovative, creative and focused. You can’t succeed by just ‘going along with the flow’. When you create your objectives, you need to focus on financial objectives and strategic objectives. With both, it is necessary to set up specific goals, such as ‘increase earnings growth rate by 10% per year’, or ‘increase market share in my area by 5% this year’.
3 – Craft your strategies to achieve your objectives
Working with clients, I see this as the most difficult part of the process. Yes, people find it difficult to really pinpoint who they are and what they have to offer, and they spend time struggling with narrowing down objectives, but quite often they get bogged down on determining how they want to achieve those objectives. It’s like a block wall, but once they have successfully chipped a whole in the wall, it quickly falls away. Often, if you have made the right choices about what you really want to do, this step starts to develop quickly and easily. It goes from being the hardest to the most inspiring step. After all, this is the essence of how you will run your business. This is the ‘how’ of how you will make it all happen; the action steps. Your strategies will include such things as how you will grow your business, how you will satisfy customers/clients, how to capitalize on new ideas or services, and how to respond to changing industry and market conditions, just to nam!
e a few. This is where the ‘entrepreneur’ in you will come into play.
4 – Implement your strategies
Implementing your strategies involves making sure there is a good fit between what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to make it happen, AND making sure to do this with excellence, and in a timely manner. It’s important to be sure that ample resources are allocated to the activities outlined in the plan, and there are adequate rewards and testing procedures to keep track of how you’re doing. How will you know when a strategy has been successful? If it is, what do you plan to do, then?
5 – Evaluate results and take corrective action
Because conditions and goals change, setting up strategies and evaluating them is an ongoing process. Throughout the entire process, it’s important to constantly evaluate and monitor performance to see if things are going as planned, or if there may be a better way to accomplish an objective, and make adjustments accordingly. This may even mean making major adjustments to your company’s mission or vision statement!
The steps listed above are the basics on how you will put together and run your company. It is as simple as that! Once you have created your goals and objectives, and have set up your strategies to achieve these goals and objectives, the rest is just the making of history.