Does Your Company Need A Strategic Plan?

If your small business is growing, it may be time to develop a strategic plan that will help to guide your progress and facilitate growth.

Entrepreneurs who are self-employed should create a business plan that will organize a system of progress to ensure future growth and prosperity. As the business adds employees and clients, however, you may want to go a step further and develop a strategic plan. Although geared mainly to large, complex organizations who are trying to define goals and objectives without losing focus, a strategic plan can help any size business stay on track and continue to do a good job of meeting clients' needs. Here are some thoughts as to whether your business needs a strategic plan.

1. Do you want to grow your client base? If you are serving 50 customers or so and are basically happy at that level, there may be no need for a long-term growth plan. However, if you would like to add employees and build your client base, a strategic plan can help you set goals and create an action plan to maintain a clear path that helps you build on existing strengths without incurring significant weaknesses.

2. Do you want to expand your goods and services? If you do not need to consider extending your product line, you may be fine doing just what you've been doing. But if you would like to add new products or services, a long-term plan will help you figure out how to do so without taking on exorbitant debt or losing customer service appeal for current clients. Instead of adding five new products all at once, you can instead work on developing one at a time, test-marketing it, and then mass producing it if all goes well. A strategic plan can help by laying out the process in workable steps.

3. Do you want to improve on what you do? If you feel there is no way to do a better job than you are already doing, an extended-range plan probably isn't important for you. But if you feel there is room for improvement or if you want to move into a more advanced market niche alongside your competition, a strategic plan may be able to outline some objectives for doing so. The plan can help you evaluate where your business is now and where you want to take it in terms of customer service and quality control.

4. Do you want to develop a more professional image? If you don't feel it's necessary, then a plan probably isn't, either. But a professional image can help to attract serious customers who rate (rightly or wrongly) the quality of a business by the image it projects. You can set goals to improve the way you dress, where your business is housed, the appearance and packaging of your products, and a host of related issues. Decorating, communications, and company literature are additional ways of enhancing the way you interact with your clients.

5. Do you want to meet other professionals and expand your company's reputation? If not, you can probably keep on doing what you've been doing to maintain the status quo. But if you want to line up plans for meeting other business owners in your area, exchanging promotional information, and developing a more heightened presence among your peers and in your community, a strategic plan can help you figure out how to accomplish these objectives.

You can find templates for business plans and strategic plans on the Internet. Or you can get sample documents and forms from some of the office supply stores. You might want to check with others in your area who have already taken this step. Meet for lunch and learn how they went about creating a strategic plan. Then start working on your own to plot a course for your successful business.

© High Speed Ventures 2011