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Happy New Year! As we usher in 2017, it's a great time to take stock of what's working and what's not for our business and commit to change. Strategic planning should be on every business owner's list of resolutions for the new year.

This blog discusses the 5 steps to ensure you have a solid strategy heading into 2017.

Are you hoping to invest more time into growing your business instead of getting bogged down by day-to-day business challenges?

Then this outline of a strategic planning template that will help you to craft your own strategic business plans is for you.

The Alternative Board’s Strategic Business Leadership® (SBL) process provides an effective framework for transforming your personal vision of your company into a clear and concise road map that will help to guide your organization’s response to every new challenge and opportunity. The SBL strategic planning process is designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses develop practical strategic plans with attainable, measurable goals.

Meet today’s business challenges with SBL’s five-step strategic planning template:

  1. Align organizational vision with your personal vision.
  2. Turn a critical eye toward your business.
  3. Develop the plans needed to meet your goals.
  4. Carry out your plans.
  5. Continually evaluate and adjust your plans as business conditions change.

The Five-Step SBL Strategic Planning Template

  1. Vision. To develop a truly effective strategic plan, you’ll first need to take an honest look at what you want to get out of your business. Develop a written Personal Vision Statement, one that details what you’d like to see your business strive towards and how that connects with your goals for your personal life. This isn’t a statement you need to share with employees, investors or customers, so be honest with yourself: are you hoping to sell the business? Bring in new management? Turn the company over to your son or daughter? After you answer these questions, you can develop a Company Vision that will ensure your management team and employees understand your team’s common goal.
  2. Analysis. Next, you’ll need to detail the features of your company and the business challenges that loom on the horizon. One proven method for accomplishing this is the SWOT analysis for identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Assess the things your company does best, and consider the areas where you fall short. Ask yourself about the characteristics that make your company unique, and describe the way your customers truly view your organization. Then identify emerging technologies or markets that might provide new opportunities going forward. Finally, make note of external factors that could cause trouble in the future, such as new regulations or competitors.
  3. Plan. You’ll need to detail critical success factors, goals, strategies and action plans as part of the SBL strategic planning template.Critical Success Factors. Identify your organization’s most important large-scale objectives to help direct your efforts.
  4. Goals. Set up concrete goals that can be achieved within one to three years. If your Critical Success Factor is expanding your product line, for example, you could set a goal of developing two new products within the next 18 months.
  5. Strategies. Develop guidelines that will help you to meet your goals. In the above example, that might include allocating more resources to your R&D department to facilitate product development.
  6. Action Plans. Produce a plan of action that meets SBL’s “S.M.A.R.T.” criteria: your plan must be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, assigned to a Responsible party, and fit within a set Timeline.
  7. Take action. A plan won’t do you much good if you and your team let it sit idle.
  8. Focus on effective communication. This is needed to make sure you meet your goals. Your whole organization needs to understand the direction you’re heading and the role they’ll play in making sure you reach your destination. You’ll also need to review and modify your plan as often as possible (preferably weekly), which will allow you to factor in new and unforeseen developments. Also, remember that growing your business will require your full participation. As the business owner, you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring that your company moves towards your objectives.
  9. Turn the Wheel. The last factor in the SBL strategic planning template is what we refer to as “Turning the Wheel.” You didn’t become a business leader because you wanted to stick with the status quo or let others guide your fate. Take ownership over your company’s progress. If things are veering off course, review your plan and revise it. If you need to change course to respond to the loss of a major client or as a result of difficulties acquiring capital, you’ll need to embrace your role as a leader. If you remember that your strategic plans will need to be dynamic and malleable, you’ll be better prepared to respond to the unexpected and to chart a new path forward.

The strategic planning process is an essential part of any company’s decision-making process. Regardless of your level of experience, and no matter how large or successful your organization is, our SBL strategic planning template can help you to excel when faced with tomorrow’s business challenges. You’ve got a finite supply of business resources, and you’ll use them best when you move forward with purpose and conviction. Start the strategic planning process today.

What would you consider the most important aspect of a effective business strategy? Comment below to let us know what you’d need to include in your strategic plan.

Other insights into strategy, webinars and new research on how strategy is in real businesses is available in our on-line resource library - here.

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If you would like to talk through how you can develop or improve your business strategy just give me a call - Andy Hartley – 07816 272762 or email ahartley@thealternativeboard.co.uk or visit my website for more insights

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