By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

A small business may not always have a clear path at the outset. A degree of “strategic planning” may provide direction. What kind of a “plan” should a veteran have for a new business idea?

Some entrepreneurs hope to create a new Fortune 500 company. Others hope to build their idea until they can sell the fruits of their endeavors at a healthy profit. Still others hope for a healthy side-business that can monetize a fun hobby. Whatever an entrepreneur’s goals, strategic planning can help forge the path to that endgame.

The strategic planning process should involve not only the leadership, but the employees and anyone else with an interest in the company. The Small Business Administration recommends that such a process be flexible. Remember that with yourself at the helm of your company, you will help guide the fates of your crewmembers along with those with whom you conduct business.

First, owners should identify strengths and weaknesses. The universe has endowed each of us with our own set of opportunities. Perhaps a business’s geographic setting provides access to healthy local industries or resources. Maybe personal connections offer valuable talent or expertise. Any variety of circumstances may provide an entrepreneur with the meat and potatoes to grow a valuable business idea. Lack of any such resource could suggest another path for the strategic growth of a company, at least in the short term.

Second, those at the helm should communicate their strategic plan. Those with a vested interest in a company should share common goals. If the ownership only needs temporary or on-call labor, the human resources development strategy should reflect these needs. Conversely, business owners who may need long-term commitments from their employees should prepare accordingly. Additionally, healthy businesses communicate honestly with clients and contractors about their commitments. This communication may reflect in negotiated lengths and terms of contracts as well as volumes of purchases and scope of projects.

Third, ownership must understand that strategic planning is an ongoing process. Companies often change course as opportunities arise and priorities change. Healthy economic entities know how to adapt. On the plus side, perhaps a company has developed an infrastructure that allows optimal use of some opportunity that has arisen. On the minus, perhaps some change in the economy has necessitated a wise repurposing of existing commitments.

Along the same lines, consider mission statements. Strategic planning is a versatile process, and mission statements are living documents. Mission statements can anchor a company’s staff in the realities of a company’s objectives. Mission statements can also provide marketing guidance. Perhaps an employee’s ambitions do not jive with the company’s “mission statement.” Perhaps a contract might not keep the company on course. In such cases, change can ensue.

Strategic planning should involve discussion, development, and review. Discussion can involve meeting with employees and working out priorities for any challenges that might arise. Remember that the strategic planning process may begin long after the spark of inspiration for the company itself. When owners need to make a serious commitment, everyone with a commitment in an endeavor needs to get down and agree on a plan.

In short, plans for business development should closely tie with the interests of everyone involved. Communication with each stakeholder is necessary to gauge commitment to the endeavor. The business owner’s own ambitions may change based on the resources available and enthusiasm of each relevant party. However, owners should maintain a sensibility about the necessity of a direction to the company, as well as an understanding of the need to redeploy the company’s resources in changing circumstances. Hence the need for a versatile strategic planning strategy.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this mini-series.   We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:

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