How To Write A Small Business Strategic Plan

Do you know where your company is headed? Have you established a five-year growth plan? If not, write a strategic plan to set clear goals.

A strategic plan can help to steer a company to operational success over a short or long period of time. If an enterprise pokes along without a sense of direction, it may end up going nowhere. That is why you need to write a strategic plan to guide your organization through good times and bad.

Many companies form strategic planning committees, with members from all major departments. Every area should be represented so that no employee feels left out or disenfranchised. Employee representation is vital for staff buy-in and implementation.

Organize monthly meetings, with the chair setting an agenda and, with the committee's help, establishing a timeline for completing a draft of the plan. After each meeting, the committee report should be published in the company newsletter or in a special section of the Web site, if applicable, to keep everyone informed of the document's progress.

Feedback should be sought from non-committee employees on a routine basis. As each draft of the strategic plan comes together, it should be reported in company media, with feedback invited by a certain time. Or copies of the plan can be circulated with a request for proposed editing changes by a specific date. That way no one can say he or she did not have a voice in setting the company's future goals.

Goals to be considered may include objectives like these:

-Improve safety by increasing parking lot lighting

-Increase customer satisfaction by reducing turnaround time on orders from four days to two.

-Enhance the foyer appearance by adding live plants and carpeting.

Larger or long-range goals should be set under broad categories:

-Customer satisfaction

-Employee safety

-Product integrity

-Workplace harmony

As one goal is met, replace it with another. There are always ways in which to improve company performance.

In additional to operational objectives, five- and ten-year goals should be emphasized, along with the steps for reaching them:

Five-year plan:

-increase profits by 25%

(expand customer base through sales calls, increase advertising budget by 10%)

-increase staff by 10%

(hire full-time employee each year for five years)

-add 2,500 square feet of production space

(purchase adjacent lot and erect a pole building)

-reduce waste by 20%

(double-check product content daily)

-decrease absenteeism by 30%

(offer $200 annual bonus for perfect attendance)

These clear-cut, measurable goals and steps can be attained through employee motivation and cooperation. At staff meetings take time to explain the purpose of the plan and the overall value to the company, its employees, and your customers. In putting the plan on paper, divide departments or areas into sections, list the steps for achieving each goal along with a timeline for completing the action step, and circulate the plan for final approval before pronouncing it complete.

When the plan is formally adopted, be sure that each employee gets a copy. Make reference to it at staff meetings, retreats, and other special programs. The committee should review the plan at least once a year for updates and reprioritization. A competent strategic plan can provide the structure and vision that will lead your company to the next level of achievement.

© High Speed Ventures 2011