What is it?
Strategic planning simply means taking control of where your business is heading, and not leaving it to chance. This is not just for big business - any business must have a strategic plan.
It is possible to have a strategic plan in your head, and to run the business by your gut feel. But we wouldn't recommend this approach for two reasons. Firstly, if it's in your head, you'll need to be there all the time to make sure everything works. And that means you'll wear out quickly and want to sell. But how much will a business be worth if it depends totally on you?
The second reason why you simply must have a written strategic plan is because it works. A study done at Harvard in the 1950s established a fact that is still true today. A random sample of students was asked whether they had a written plan for their lives. When that same group was revisited 20 years later, the 3% that had written goals were worth more than the 97% that didn't.
Chance? We don't think so.
Why do I need it?
Because a written plan is real - it forces you to make each day count, and prevents the procrastination that is so damaging to businesses.
Tom Watson, who founded IBM from his garage, said 'œThe reason IBM became such a success was because I went to work from day 1 with the end vision in mind. I worked on my plan each day until eventually it was done.'
Who's it for?
Any business owner who would like their business to end up some place different from where it is right now. And it's absolutely essential if -
- there is more than one owner and you've not recently sat down to discuss your personal life goals and those of the business;
- you may be selling the business within the next 5 years;
- you are thinking of diversifying into a new product or service;
- you're frustrated with a lack of progress and time spent fire-fighting;
- you're looking to raise new finance, perhaps for an acquisition or expansion programme.