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5 Essential Elements of Strategic Planning for Small Businesses
Posted by Lagerquist Accounting & Advisory
Your company may be considered a small business, but as a successful owner or CEO you know that running it profitably requires big decisions. Moving your business forward means making critical choices about determining the right time to invest and how to focus your efforts in a way that aligns with your mission and long-term goals. These are complex decisions that may be difficult to make – but not when you have a strategic plan in place to guide you. Here are five essential elements of a strategic plan for your small business.
Vision sums up what you would like your small business to look like in an ideal situation. Your vision should honor your aspirations but still be possible to achieve. As a small business owner, you need to express your vision in a short but powerful vision statement that captures the interest of anyone who comes across your firm’s name.
Your vision statement is your chance to let the world know what you want to achieve through your business. To get a good idea of what a thought-provoking vision should look like, turn to Google, the world’s largest search engine. Google’s vision statement reads, “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”
It’s a brief statement, but it communicates volumes.
You can generate the same interest when you start your strategic planning by developing an attention-grabbing vision.
2. Mission Statement
Your company’s mission statement explains to the outside world why your business exists. It can include more detail on the actions you want to undertake to achieve your stated goal – for example, mentioning the specific services or products you offer – or it can explain an issue your firm is passionate about fixing.
This is the route CVS Health opted for, and their mission statement is simple but effective: “Helping people on their path to better health.”
Whichever way you choose to go, be sure to put yourself in your clients’ shoes first. Customers or potential clients should understand what your business does and why with ease. Let them know why you started your company and craft a mission statement that contributes positively to your strategic planning.
3. Goals and Objectives
The goals and objectives of your small business are also an essential element in your strategic planning. Goals and objectives must align with your vision and mission and indicate how your business will grow over time.
For your strategic planning to be successful, you need to include measurable goals mapped out against a specific time frame. For instance, if you have a goal of reaching 1,000 new clients in a year, you can measure your progress by keeping track of the new customers visiting your store every day.
It’s important to be realistic when crafting your goals and objectives. While being ambitious may inspire your team to work harder, it may also leave you and your employees disappointed or frustrated. It is vital to pick a goal or objective that is actually achievable within your set time frame.
Here are a few more ways unrealistic goals and objectives can negatively impact your strategic planning:
- Using the wrong metrics: Not knowing what or how to measure your progress can give a false impression of your organization’s outcomes and make it more challenging to achieve your objectives. It can also break the morale of your team, leading to even lower productivity.
- Poor communication: Failing to communicate well in your organization can spell doom for your strategic planning. Bring everyone on board to understand what the objectives are so they can help you achieve them. This requires open and transparent lines of communication.
- Lack of leadership: If there is no one to lead the way, it may be challenging to work together to achieve a common goal. You can play the role of a team leader for your small business or appoint somebody with leadership qualities to drive your agenda forward
4. Action Plan
No strategic plan is complete without a proper action plan to set you firmly on the path towards achieving your goals and objectives. Action plans may be highly specific or more broadly based, depending on the purpose or intent they support.
In the example mentioned above where the goal was expanding your customer base by 1,000 new customers in a year, the action plan could include specific details such as which marketing strategies you’ll use and what kind of advertising is appropriate to drive traffic to your store.
Spelling out how you are going to achieve your deliverables, who is responsible for each part of the process, and what the time frame is will result in an effective strategic plan to guide your growth.
Successful strategic planning should also include a way to measure the progress of your small business. This is where a scorecard comes in. If you set a goal to achieve at the end of the year, you should have a way to track the progress and even determine whether you will reach the goal. This is also why you should have measurable goals and objectives, as it can be very difficult to measure the progress of goals and objectives that are too broad or vague.
When incorporating a scorecard into your strategic plan, be sure your employees understand and can easily access the information so they have what they need to contribute productively to your goals. This means having all the information in one place on the strategic plan.
Learning the essentials of strategic planning for your small business makes the process easier, giving you ample room to focus on the company’s growth. If you need any help with strategic planning or want more information, please contact us.
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