Don’t Skip Stage 1
Look, we all want to get things done fast. So why not look for shortcuts? But when it comes to the 7 Stages of Business Success, it’s not smart to skip any of the stages. Especially the one many BOEs (Business Owners and Entrepreneurs) want to skip most: Stage One, the strategic planning stage. It’s easy to understand why this stage frustrates so many BOES. When you launch a business, you want to get started NOW! Whether you plan to make, create, or sell – whatever your business model – you probably want to start doing it and start making money. Strategic planning may feel like a stall or even a waste of time. That mindset is a mistake. The most profitable, sustainable businesses know how to sell things even before they make them. They have a strategic plan in place that helps them decide what to sell, how to sell it, what makes it special, how to price it, and more. Consultants like myself, for example, have to find customers before we can “create” anything. We sell ideas, promises, and results–not widgets. So we HAVE to start with a strategic plan. This “sell first, make later” approach takes a little discipline, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Already Started a Business? It’s Not too Late to Create a Strategic Plan
Yes, ideally strategic plans are in place before a business gets started. But if you’re already running a business without a strategic plan, it’s time to take a step back to Stage One. Even if your company has been in business 100 years, it can benefit from creating a formal business plan. Businesses without a plan are still sending messages to current and potential customers. Whether it’s part of an intentional plan, or it just sort of “happens,” everything your business does or doesn’t do is building (or destroying) value.However, if you take a step back, and develop a well-considered strategic plan, the things your business does will start working together to create momentum, and your business can start growing in the ways you want it to grow. Companies that operate day to day, without a roadmap, are probably sending out inconsistent, contradictory, incompatible, or even destructive signals and messages. There are a million idioms to describe the need for concerted efforts – get your ducks in a row, marching to the same drum, get in the boat and row, gather the troups, in it for the long haul, on the same page – that talk about the value of working together towards a common goal. When you have a solid mission statement, a well-articulated vision, and a set of values, you have guidelines. These guidelines help you grow methodically, intentionally, and reliably. A strategic plan not only enables you to identify the things you should be doing, but it also allows you to understand why some things just don’t make sense for your business.
Create a Vision for Growth in Your Strategic Plan and StickWith it
Business owners may achieve an initial burst of success, but without vision and focus, they suffer in the long run. The vision you create in the strategic planning process not only provides motivation, but it also helps you and your employees understand what you are building and how large and profitable you want your company to become.Don’t be afraid to think big. With a strategic plan in place, you’ll understand what you need to do to be very successful. While you may not reach your goal this week, you’ll be surprised how aggressive growth goals affect the way you run your business. Your plan will help you understand what you want your company to become, so you can stay on track, make decisions that lead you down your chosen path, and help end up with a successful seven- or eight-figure business. And the only way to get a clear vision is to develop a plan you can follow as your business expands.Want to know more about strategic planning, mission statements, and vision? Check out my best-selling business book, The 7 Stages of Small Business Success, or contact me at my consulting firm, 7 Stages Advisors.