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Strategies for Strategic Planning: Phases – Part 2

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

No mere cliché can provide a solution to the difficult project of planning for a company’s future. Each business differs both internally and in relation to its circumstances. Many strategists recommend a four-step process for assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For convenience, we can refer to this process as a “SWOT” analysis.

Wise business owners carry this analysis through a discussion phase, development phase, and a review and updating phase. This adaptable framework ensures the bases are covered for entrepreneurs laying out their plans for success.

The Discussion Phase

At the discussion phase, remember to involve employees in discussions about strengths and weaknesses. The initial phases may require the most painful analyses of the SWOT process, requiring sincere feedback from diverse sources. The leadership can consider available human assets, as well as material resources and available business networks. Managers can gauge strengths and weaknesses through careful assessment by those overseeing each business process.

Following the assessment of strengths and weaknesses, the business is ready to gauge opportunities. The earliest assessments of available opportunities can provide an exciting chance to sound out the aspirations of all involved. Certain team members may have skills or talents that could propel the company in a new direction. Maybe the team possesses technical expertise that allows partnership with nearby potential rivals. At this stage in the SWOT analysis, the business owners can perform a wholistic assessment to connect the wealth of the company’s resources with the surrounding economic landscape.

Finally, a SWOT analysis assesses threats. Potential threats may include market saturation, logistical challenges, and labor shortages.  Threats are often more difficult to identify than opportunities. Leadership should prepare to roll up their sleaves and face any hard truths in this discussion.

The Development Phase

The development phase allows the leadership to implement the knowledge gleaned in the discussion phase. Here is where the strategic plan takes shape. Many analysts consider five components essential to a strategic plan: a vision statement, a mission statement, goals and objectives, and details regarding a cycle of regular updating and review. The goals of the business should be clearly measurable. Also, a company’s goals should anchor in realistic assessments of its capacities.

The Reviewing and Updating Phase

The review and updating phase assess the cycles by which the company will adapt and evolve. Strategic plans are fluid, living documents, and periodic reviews ensure the strategy maintains relevance in the current environment.

The management should designate a certain person to oversee the regular updating of company policies and strategies. The company’s vision should actively engage with surrounding realities, and react as necessary to shifts in values, economic opportunity, or goals of the stakeholders. These updates can occur yearly, monthly, or biannually as needed. Owners must not allow strategies and policies to go stale. Running a business is a dynamic process. Without thorough periodic reviews, any number of changes can sneak up on a business, possibly even challenging its relevance.

Importance of a Strategic Plan

Maintaining relevance is a dynamic process. However, the above framework can walk the management through the process and cover the main priorities while allowing flexibility with the specifics of the business. The process should begin as soon as possible, in order maintain direction through all phases of a business’s development. Preparation is key, and wise strategic planning is necessary to ensure healthy engagement with any challenges ahead.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this mini-series on “Strategic Planning” has been valuable.   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:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Don’t forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

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:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Don’t forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

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