Importance of Strategic Planning for Small Business

Business is all about planning intelligent strategies and wisely implementing them. Even small business are no exception, since the ultimate aim of a small business is to grow into a large business. However, many people wrongly believe that strategic planning is only for big players in the market. But if you aspire to compete with them someday, you will also need to focus on strategic planning for your business.

What is Strategic Planning?
It involves formulation of policies and business growth strategies over a defined period of time. The time period would typically depend upon the kind of your business. Certain businesses like the Internet or mobile technology have to deal with changing trends very frequently, hence formulating a five year plan for such businesses is not a feasible option.

The management can prepare a strategic plan for a single aspect of the business, or it can focus on the business as a whole. The concerned departments then, devise strategy plans that are in accordance with the overall business plan.

Writing a strategy plan is not similar to writing a business plan. Business plan deals with the challenges likely to be encountered while starting a business, but strategy planning covers the opportunities for growing the business and the methods of harnessing those opportunities. Without a strategy plan, a business would have no direction. The chances of succeeding in a business that has no strategy plan, diminish significantly.

Basic Model for Strategic Planning
There is no definite model of strategies. Every business formulates its own model that has a potential to work for that particular business. No matter which model you choose, the critical components of the strategy plan remains the same. These components include:

Business Purpose
Business purpose explains the whole idea of why the business exists. It is also sometimes called the ‘mission of the business.’ It need not be complicated, and should only focus on the ultimate objective of the business.

Organizational Objectives
Organizational objectives are the ultimate goals at which all the organizational efforts are targeted. These are the goals which help you to achieve the mission of the business. Set goals that are practically achievable within the defined time period.

Strategy Planning for Every Goal
Strategies are the approaches you are likely to adopt, to accomplish each goal. It is possible that a certain strategy may not work for a certain goal at a particular point of time, hence make provisions for checkpoints, which will allow you to ascertain if the strategy is working or not. Devise alternative back-up plan for every strategy, in case it backfires.

Action Plans
These are actual activities that are to be implemented as per the strategy plan. An action plan is a set of all the activities that ultimately focus on accomplishing the goals. If multiple departments are involved and each department has its own set of goals, then it is important that the action plans for all the departments work in sync with each other.

Monitoring Implementation of Strategy Plan
Most businesses formulate an intelligent strategy plan, but fail to monitor its effectiveness. The whole purpose of strategic planning gets defeated if you cannot invest time to monitor its implementation. Periodically monitor the implementation of strategic plans and revise it, if necessary.

Though strategic planning is not the only essence of the business, it definitely forms an integral part of it and can take you a long way in your business when coupled with intelligent tactics. In Sun Tzu’s words “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Planning for Starting a Home Based Business

A home based business needs to have a proper plan in place for it to be successful. Working from home is a wonderful option for those of us who cannot, for whatever reason, go to an office for work. Several employment options exist for such entrepreneurs. However, to take advantage of the offers, you need to be well planned and organized.

Step One

First things first, you need to know in which area you want to provide work. For that you need to examine your skill sets and qualifications. That should give you a fair idea of which service you are able to provide.

Step Two

Even at home, you should have a dedicated work area where you can work peacefully. Finding such an area is the key, especially if you are staying at home because of kids or some other responsibilities. You need to find a time and place, where you would not be disturbed or distracted. You can then fix the number of hours, that you can devote to your work based on these factors. Your earnings would therefore depend on the number of hours you can spend working, and how fast you can do your work within these restraints.

Step Three

The next thing you need to have is a business plan. An ideal plan will outline the above mentioned factors in clear cut terms. An analysis of cost and market factors, will determine your cost per hour. You can thus calculate your projected income based on the number of hours you work.

Step Four

Once you have a plan in place, you need to apply for the necessary licenses and registrations. Check with your local government for the required formalities. It pays to have the paperwork in order, so as to avoid legal complications at a later date.

Step Five

The next step is, obviously, getting the work. If your work is internet based, then you need to look for websites where you can get such work. There are several wonderful websites where you can get such work on the Internet. However, if your work is not Internet based, then you need to generate work from other sources. Place an Ad in the local newspapers. Throw a launch party for all your friends and family, and put the word out there.

Going Further

Let the work come to you. Once you get the work, do it well, so that your clients remember you. Don’t forget to discuss payment terms before the work is done, so that there are no misunderstandings later. Word of mouth publicity only works, if you work well and deliver on time. As for publicizing your work via other media: you need to keep on doing it all the time, so as to generate constant work.

So gear up and get started. Well begun is half done! All the best!