Goal Setting and Strategic Planning Approaches!

As the end of the year looms, now is a good time to think about your strategic goals for 2008. Every small business needs strategic goals, and the time to plan them is now, while the current years’ results are still fresh in your mind.

Year-End Results Are Important For Strategizing

When you prepare your strategic plan for the coming year, you need to set your work direction with clear-cut objectives. Now is the ideal time to review the year-end results of your business and plan ahead for another year. If you already have a plan because you worked on it earlier, this might be a good time to look into it once
again in the new light of the current year results.

Your strategic plan is also a guide for allocation of organizational resources. Your intent should be to create a living document that is revisited annually (at the very least) to set strategic goals for the following fiscal year.

This is the time for an evaluation of the past year’s objectives and achievements vis-à-vis any strategic goals that were set.

A Typical ‘New Year’ Strategic Plan

Moving ahead with your strategic plan, a typical approach would be to multiply your company’s quantitative results at the year-end by a growth factor relevant to your particular industry. This can be anywhere from 5% to 25%, depending on the nature of the industry.

Next would be to add in any scheduled enhancements to your product line. To complete your strategic plan, you have to incorporate solutions to identify any key problems that come to light that you intend to address.

A Different Approach Can Revitalize Your Business

If you want a dynamic strategic plan for the New Year, you need to think differently. Review the current year results and try to learn from them. For example, if you realize that an effective training period for field staff is six months and not the six weeks you previously allocated, this should be reflected in your strategic plan.

Get your team together to brainstorm how to set exciting (but realistic) targets that will energize your entire workforce, including yourself. Then prepare and lay out ways to achieve the targets that you have set.

You must create a well-rounded strategic plan that provides a platform for continuous growth of your small business. It should be designed to impact the following critical factors:

  • Quality
  • Product development
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Revenue and Profit
  • Productivity
  • Intellectual Capital
  • Strategic Relationships
  • New Customer growth
  • Employee Retention

Follow a Three-Step Analysis for Each Factor

1) What worked (i.e., what did you do that proved to be right and what is it that needs to be done in addition to that). What was wrong and did not work? What needs to be stopped immediately?

2) What bold and dynamic results are you committed to producing in identified areas? All targets should be bold and quantifiable and must be able to inspire everyone responsible to make things happen and achieve targets.

3) Who stands accountable in relation to each factor (i.e., which executive/manager/department)? Some factors can be mapped directly to a functional department, such as marketing or sales, while others like customer
satisfaction may not fall under one clear domain. However, there needs to be one department that is accountable.

Many small business owners are so busy that they failed to create strategic goals in this past year. If this describes you, then resolve to plan, carry out on continuously monitor your goals for this new year – starting today.

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