The business plan of any organisation, either small or large needs to consider an effective strategic plan or in other words a very careful and considered long term planning if they want to exist in the long term; however, this is not an easy task and many new entrepreneurs don’t even know where to start or the different element to factor in the corporate planning document.
Characteristic of strategic plan
1. An strategic plan should be focus in the long term survival of your business; not only in the short term; ideally you should be structuring your business plan and considering the strategies for the next three years for a newly created business or five years and beyond for an already established organisation.
2. Every single area or the business should be considered; although business development with marketing strategies is probably the most overlooked area; this is not only the one that efforts should be placed on; logistics, finance, and the most important part: a motivated staff is part of a successful business.
3. The main point of corporate or strategic plan is to provide a vision of where the company wants to be; it gives clear indications and a direction to the whole organisation; integrating and complimenting each one of the activities in order to create a more effective business.
4. Marketing and innovation, the importance of money for long-term survival, profitability and considering all the needs from the different stakeholders (owners, staff, local community, customers) is an important and key aspect of a corporate plan.
5. Considering how other business in the same sector perform, the different strategies they are taken and evaluation the current environment will give you a competitive advantage over your closer competition but without forgetting about the newcomers which probably are ambitious, business savvy and hungry for business success.
6. Your forecast and the analysis of actual vs. budget should probably (if available) consider the relative growth of your business in comparison to similar business; this will give you a clear indication of failing strategies taken for your company or simply, changes in the current environment – new technology, different customer’s patterns; they should be considered and actions taken if proven to be ineffective; or in the contrary; if the business is growing too fast, this might be an indication of overtrading.
7. Training of staff should be part of your strategic plan; as well as looking for ways to keep them motivated; many corporations have closed their doors thanks to a sudden departure of key staff; it is important to note that although money is probably the main and most important consideration to retain your staff; this is not the only factor why a person decides to leave or stay; other non-monetary reasons are more important such as flexible working; a nice and friendly environment; a manager open-door policy to discuss issues affecting their performance or simply to discuss ideas that will help the business.
8. Establishing good network connections should not be overlooked; especially for smaller companies: word of mouth marketing has been proven successful for the development of many small businesses.