A strategic business plan or road map is essential for success. I’m sure you’re used to planning family meals, your kid’s after school activities, and the intricacies of juggling home and work life.
The same planning needs to be applied to your business. A clear direction will not only help you get from A to B, but also navigate the ups and downs in between. Whether you’re new to business or a seasoned entrepreneur, it’s never too early or too late to create a road map to business success. Here’s how to go about it:
Setting your goals
A road map doesn’t have to be a 50-page document full of business jargon. It’s one of the reasons so many business owners fail to put a plan on paper, often overlooking the importance of proper planning and organisation.
So start with jotting down your main goals. Where do you want your business to go? What are your goals for the next year? How about the next five years? This is the perfect place to challenge yourself and dream big.
It doesn’t matter if your goals change over time, but it’s always good to know where you’re headed from the start.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. OK, so here is a little business jargon, but something that’s very useful for analysing where you are financially, systematically, and operationally.
Assess any gaps there may be in your business or Big Idea. Can you work on developing new skills? Should you shift your time, effort, or resources elsewhere? Would adopting different habits help tackle any weaknesses you’ve identified?
These are all questions you should ask yourself in order to determine where you are and help close some of the gaps.
Understanding your target market
This is one of the most important things to focus on when you’re creating a roadmap to success. It’s essential to understand your market (and your competitors) in order to create a strong marketing plan and offer customers what they’re really looking for.
Holding on to an idea or product which doesn’t attract your target market will probably end badly. Some of the most successful companies in the world, such as Apple and Lego, started off producing very different products to the ones they’re famous for now.
Understanding your customers means you can keep adapting to their ever changing needs, so keep checking back to your plan to ensure you’re satisfying your target market.
Outsourcing and delegating
You may have started off by taking on all the company roles yourself, but to increase efficiency and avoid burnouts, you’ll need to implement a team to support you as you grow.
Consider whether you’ll want to bring in new employees or outsource jobs such as bookkeeping, sales, administration, and social media management. Having an idea of the support systems you’ll need from the beginning will streamline the process once you get to this stage.
Don’t be afraid of Plan B
Every business will encounter problems at some point. Foreseeing problem areas will give you the chance to think about solutions before they hit you by surprise. For instance, how would your business handle a crash in the market? How would your business cope if you fell ill?
Being prepared, open to change, and adapting to your circumstances will give you the best tools to stay on the road to success. Making this part of your business strategy will allow you to check back on your ideas any time you like, and of course, add new ones as you learn and your business grows.
As I mentioned earlier, some of the biggest brands made pivotal changes to adapt to the market, so don’t be afraid to have a Plan B and implementing it if necessary.
Celebrate milestones, learn from mistakes
Keep checking back on your objectives. Have you achieved your weekly goals? Then reflect on what’s gone well and celebrate that success. If you’ve fallen short, learn from your mistakes and adjust your course if you feel it’s needed.
Following a road map is as much about going forward as it is looking back. Check you’re fulfilling your objectives, ensure you’re staying true to your vision, and identify errors if you’re failing to meet your goals.
A strategic plan will help keep you focused, define your company values, and chart your direction for growth. Ideally, you should be revisiting it every quarter to check where you are with your goals, but if this seems unmanageable, try at least once a year.
Remember this isn’t a one time thing. You can keep coming back to your plan and adjusting your course as necessary. Success may not come overnight, but having a strategic plan will definitely help you get the results you’re looking for.