Step Up Your Business Strategic Planning Process

small business strategic planningThe last decade has been rough on all small business owners. Most entrepreneurs have been working long hours under a lot of pressure to keep their doors open. The successful ones have learned to seize opportunities and, in some instances, radically change the way they do business.

This focus on immediate business priorities and the minutiae of expense management, etc. is all necessary. But, it also tends to narrow one’s viewpoint, which can be very bad for business longer term.

To Think Outside the Box, Get Out of the Office

Clear a couple of days on your calendar & block them off for a concentrated strategy session. Taking time away from the office to really think about future business options, challenges and opportunities is the best way to position your business to take advantage of business opportunities as the economy continues to recover.

Leave the office behind visually and mentally – go to a park, to a museum, to a hotel, to the beach; to any place you can clear your head of distractions and think strategically, not tactically. Shut off your phone and your email too…that’s what auto responders and voicemail out-of-office messages are for.

OK, Then What?

Strategic thinking is critical for businesses to thrive. It can’t be done effectively while you are also dealing with clients, customers or your employees. You need time to think…not to react, not to respond, not to worry about how much there is to do waiting at the office.

Day One, analyze this year – what worked, what didn’t, what surprised you, what you learned, what made money and what didn’t.

Day Two, look ahead to next year – where are the opportunities, what are the challenges, what should you change based on this year’s results, and what resources will you need going forward?

Successful Companies Plan and Strategize

You may or may not have a business plan. If you do, and haven’t revisited it in the last year or two, it’s probably outdated. A business plan is critical to your success because it gives you guidelines to help you make decisions throughout the year. Most importantly, it sets out financial goals, timelines and other measures so you can judge your progress to you know if you are on track to achieve your bottom line.

Large companies always incorporate off-site strategic planning retreats into their annual workplans…that’s because it helps them to succeed.

Take a clue from big businesses and do the same thing. Getting away from your day to day office routine can help you to see more clearly, and spending undistracted time concentrating on your business planning is an investment in growing your business.

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