Developing Your Strategic Plan

Posted 13 Jul '22

Here are our tips on how to develop your strategic plan.

While most business owners know how important it is to develop a strategic plan, they may not know where to start or may struggle to carve out the time required to develop one.

Put simply, strategic planning allows you to take your company vision and convert it into measurable priorities that your teams can easily and effectively action. It is your roadmap to the future success of your business.

The benefits of developing a strategic plan for your business are all-encompassing from improving revenue and profit margin, better managing cash flow and resource planning, to managing your customer relationships and building company culture.

At Trinity Advisory, we’ve seen many organisations struggle when it comes to crafting and executing their strategic plan. Here are our main tips to help you get started:

Gather Data and Develop a SWOT Analysis

In order to correctly roadmap your strategy, it is essential that you have access to insightful reporting and financial data. You’ll need to have this information handy and share it with your key stakeholders before you meet.  There are two types of data:

  • Internal data - which may include financial data such as cost of goods, cost of operations, pricing structures, revenue and profit margins as well as any relevant employee, supplier or customer data.
  • External data – which may include industry research, competitor research, price benchmarking and any information on significant economic or market shifts that have occurred or are likely to occur.

Once you've gathered this data, you'll need to develop a SWOT analysis – Strengths and Weaknesses are your internal factors; Opportunities and Threats are your external factors. Knowing these before you move forward will help to ensure you build a realistic strategy. 

Define Your Business's Values, Mission, and Vision

Before delving into the tactical aspects of your strategic plan, it's crucial to establish the core elements that will guide your business's direction. This includes your business values, mission, and a 3-5 year vision for the future of your business. These elements are the bedrock of your strategic plan, providing guidance and motivation for your team.

  • Business Values: These are the guiding principles that dictate behavior and action within your organisation. Values help in determining what is important to your business and guide decision-making processes. Reflect on what core values are most important for your business and ensure they are clearly articulated.
  • Mission Statement: This is a concise explanation of your business's purpose and what it seeks to achieve. It should answer the fundamental questions about why your business exists and who it serves. A strong mission statement provides a clear direction and helps align your team's efforts.
  • 3-5 Year Vision: Envision where you want your business to be in the next 3-5 years. This vision should be ambitious yet attainable, and it should clearly articulate what success looks like for your business. It serves as a long-term goal for your team and helps in setting the direction for your strategic plan.

Determine Your Business Goals

Now that you have all the relevant data at your fingertips, you've developed your SWOT Analysis and you have a clear understanding of your Business Values, Mission and Vision, you now need to determine your business goals. Goals are important because they provide your organisation with measurable targets so that everyone is working towards your business vision in a systematic way.

Your Business Goals must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Time-bound. Some organisations call these Business Goals ‘rocks’, which is based on the metaphor that if you start by putting sand into the jar, you will not have room for rocks or pebbles.  Your ‘rocks’ are the most important goals determined by the business so any activity in the organisation should be working towards one or all of these ‘rocks’.

A good way to organise your business goals is by using the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) method that groups goals into categories i.e. financial, customer, process, and people - and then helps to translate these goals into performance measures, which is essential for tracking and measuring your strategy going forward.

Develop a Gap Analysis

The aim of a Gap Analysis is to compare your business's current standing with its desired future state, as outlined in your vision and goals. This process will help identify the gaps or discrepancies between the present state and future objectives, offering a clear pathway for strategic actions.

  • Current State Analysis: Using your SWOT Analysis as a guide, begin by conducting a thorough analysis of your business's current state. This involves understanding your existing processes, resources, capabilities, and performance metrics. Assess your current position in the market, your operational efficiencies, and your team's skill sets.
  • Future State Definition: Clearly define what the future state of your business looks like. This should be based on the business values, mission, and 3-5 year vision you've developed. Include specific goals and objectives that align with this vision. This future state is your target – what you're striving to achieve.
  • Identify Gaps: With a clear understanding of both your current and desired future states, identify the gaps between them. This could include gaps in resources, skills, processes, technologies, or market positioning. For instance, if your goal is to expand into a new market in three years, but you currently lack the necessary market knowledge or network, this is a gap that needs addressing.

Develop an Action Plan

Now that you have identified the gaps between where you are today and where you want your business to be in the future, you should now prioritise these gaps by determining a) their level of impact b) their level of ease and c) their level of cost. This will help you to identify the ‘low hanging fruit’ activities that can be done quickly and easily versus the longer-term projects that may require more time and resources. It will also help you to resource plan for these activities.

There are many templates available for organising your 3-year action plan, depending on how detailed you want your plan to be. At a minimum, you’ll want to include:

  • Your Business Goals (preferably one per page) e.g. Improve Lead Conversion by 10% yr on yr
  • Your Top Priorities for each Business Goal e.g. 1. Implement a Customer Relationship Management tool
  • The actions you need to take in which to achieve these priorities e.g. Gather quotes for a CRM, determine the budget, assign owner & users, organise training etc
  • The person/s responsible for completing these actions and the timeframe in which you wish to achieve these actions
  • Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and targets e.g. 20 new customers per month

Launch Your Strategy

Now that you have your plan, you’ll need to communicate it throughout the organisation and ensure that all stakeholders and employees are aware of what they are required to do and by when.

You’ll need to work with internal and external parties to ensure that you have the resources required to successfully achieve your strategic plan. Will you need to hire more staff, find new suppliers for additional raw materials or organise support from external agencies? And of course, these things will all likely require more money.

So, before you launch your strategy, make sure you have all your ducks in a row.

Evaluate Results

Once you’ve launched your strategy, you’ll need to think about how you will be tracking and measuring your results.

Start by building a ‘Dashboard Report’ that includes all your Goal KPIs with the option to capture updates on major projects and milestones. Then set up regular meetings with the key stakeholders who can provide this information. This could be weekly, monthly or quarterly – depending on the regularity of the information you are reporting on.

Creating this regular reporting structure will help you identify if things are ‘On Track’ or ‘Off Track’, allowing you to take corrective action if need be.

Remember, while your Strategic Plan should be followed as closely as possible, it should also provide enough flexibility to allow you to pivot and innovate in response to your results and the changing market.

Of course, underpinning all of this is having access to accurate data and financial reporting. A good accountant can help you develop this reporting, and a good business coach can help you develop your strategy.

How Trinity Advisory Can Help

Trinity Advisory is more than just an ordinary accounting firm. We specialise in helping Small Businesses successfully scale their operations and grow their profits by offering tailored Accounting, Business Advisory and Coaching services.  If you’re a small business owner who needs help developing your strategic plan, get in contact today to learn more about our Silver Business Advisory Package.


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