Your Strategic Plan is not Your Usual “Business Plan”

Check with most people who are about to start a new business and they will be preoccupied with
the proverbial business plan. This of course will be topped off by some “marketing plan”.
Generally, the level of input and commitment will be dependent on the reason for the plan.
The bank may want one to justify why they should lend money, or the aspiring entrepreneur, having
done some business courses, may also use the experience as encouragement for doing a plan.

Few would refer to it as a “strategic plan” because the term may seem too highfalutin or, it is
not the common “with it” term so it is the “business plan” that is pursued. In addition,
you may find someone who is willing to write the business plan for you and have it nicely packaged in the best colours and on the “right” paper, etc. Most times it is set aside after the initial phase.

Yet I believe that in times like these, when resources are scarce and there is the need for innovation, we should
focus on a strategic plan for our business. This plan may be one to start out or one that emanates from a current business that is being revamped to suit some purpose. It is hard work. Not in the sense that it is difficult, but it involves many areas and so it is not the route many would go. You can get some queer scrutiny in trying to promote the
idea of a strategic plan. Your strategic plan requires time and insight and if comes down to it, paying someone
to help you write it can be of great benefit, even if it is one of your significant start-up expenses.

A strategic plan for the small business should be designed to give it a chance. It is as simple as that!
By strategy I mean that one aligns the entity with what exists and what is anticipated, in order to achieve a significant future goal. This is where you try to separate matters that are tactical from those that are long-term and foundational – strategic. Tactical is usually more appealing, more short-term in nature and easier to get done. Strategic planning requires a vision, requires sacrifice and also recognizes what is bad for the foundation.

Some years ago, someone told me, as he was about to partner in his start-up, that he was about to give 110% to the venture. Within two months he was off to visit his family abroad, for three weeks, for no reason other than that he no longer had to apply for vacation. That is bad for the foundation and he is longer in business.

Your strategy is essentially about the reasons you expect the business do carve out a profitable niche. It is the framework for connecting your capabilities with “what is”. Your typical marketing plan is not the basis of your strategy, and is insufficient. Inherent in your overall strategy is your marketing and other strategies because how you market is not based on one aspect but on the multiple aspects of your business and its environments. Hence it flows from your strategy, and how you execute depends on the realities you face.

Which is not to say that you are doomed to fail without a proper strategizing process.

No!

Some businesses will have some amount of success without it and some will fail in spite of it. A war could be lost by an army that prepared well but did not anticipate an earthquake. So strategy is about giving yourself a good chance.

Superficial courses on “entrepreneurship”, doing a few business-related subjects, jumping onto the latest fad and seeking networking opportunities because it is popular will not insulate you from business failure. Your business requires a strong strategic foundation and if you have your connections, your advantages and so on, that mean it has a better chance of success.

Therefore, a purposeful approach to strategy will incorporate a model that is dependent on a number of aspects of the business:

- A clear vision
- Your strategic objective
- Your organizational strategy
- Your management strategy
- Your people strategy
- Your marketing strategy, and
- Your systems strategy
Depending on the nature of the business, some aspects may be emphasized over others but it is a fallacy to think
that any one of them can exist by itself, leading to a successful plan, and a viable modern business. It is because of
this misconception that over 60% will fail within the first two years.

These ideas are not always easy to grasp and their appreciation depends on the personalities, propensities and vision of the individual business person. This is why some entrepreneurs, for example Ray Kroc who made McDonalds a global
force, were relentless in addressing all aspects of the list above.

Mentoring and coaching is useful because some of the aspirants don’t “get it” at the start.
The more you can think strategically and the more you can act on purpose, the more chances you give your
business to succeed. It can be learned.

About Alrick Robinson

Alrick Robinson is the Best-Selling Author of The Small Business Survival Guide: Insights into the First Two Years & Business Coach. I invite you to download a FREE Report "7 Signs You Should Explore Running Your Own Business" Plus a Surprise Bonus! at this link - http://eepurl.com/bVHO1. You may also visit my blog at http://smallbusinessmentorja.com/blog where I share small business resources and survival tips weekly.

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