Strategic Planning - Keeping it Simple

Consultants, strategists, business advisors, etc. use a myriad of tools, resources and methodologies to help you become a better business owner, and to drive focus within your business to achieve profitability and alignment with your goals.

As a small business owner, what can you do to get started? I propose low stress, simple exercises that will start you on the path to success.


How do you want your business to be seen by others in the next 3 years?  In four columns, write Family, Community, Customers and Employees.  In each column, list approximately 10 words you would want to be described as by those groups.  Use these as motivation in your daily interactions and decision making processes. (Resource Link:  10 Word Exercise)


Assess the current condition of your business.  In separate columns, write Strengths, Opportunities, Dangers (Weaknesses and Threats).  What are you better at than anyone else?  What is available to be capitalized on for further growth, profitability and long-term sustainability? Where are your problem areas? What conditions are present that may inhibit success?  (Resource Link: Dangers. Opportunities. Strengths.)


Reality and Dreams.  In three columns, list Reality (Now) on the left and Dreams (Then) on the Right.  List in rows the business areas that are essential for your business, such as, Customers, Services/Products, Employees, Skills and Pricing.  Expand as necessary.  In the Dreams column, write where you want to be in 3 years.  In the Reality column, write where you are now.  The middle column is where you write the things that need to happen to make the change.  (Resource LinkThen and Now)

This is your outline for strategic planning.  You are ultimately asking yourself the following: How do I want to be seen and perceived by others? What strengths and opportunities can I build on?  What dangers and obstacles need to be dealt with and resolved?  Where am I today, and where do I want to be in three years?  What do I need to do to get there?

This is a simple process, but requires a detailed, focused effort.  Involving someone else, like a business coach, works to provide clarity, inspiration and accountability.  Document the actions and tasks to be accomplished.  Always make sure what is being worked on is aligned with your goals and dreams. Don't be sidetracked with pointless activities.  Stay on target, get stuff done, and be successful.