Small Business Strategy Made Simple
Many small business owners I talk to do not have a strategic or business plan of any kind. However, they do have reasonably clear ideas about where they’d like to take their business (and the challenges they face in doing so) and agree that some sort of strategic business plan would be helpful. So how can their ideas be easily incorporated into a planning framework?
Most strategic planning models involve complicated planning processes beyond the scope and resources of smaller to medium sized businesses. However, there are two common concepts we can borrow from these models and use in developing a simpler approach. These are the vision and the mission.
The vision is a fancy term for what you want your business to be. When I talk to business owners during coaching or even in the course of a free coaching session, I find that just about everybody has a date or timeframe in mind for achieving key things in their business – “
by the time I’m 55”, or ”when I’ve had the business for 10 years”, or “when I retire”, or “x years from now,” etc.
Once the timeframe is identified I simply ask them to close their eyes and imagine what their business will look like at that point in time. In particular, I ask them:
- what products and services will you be providing?
- what does your customer profile look like?
- what is your turnover?
- how much will your business be worth?
- what geographic area will your business be servicing?
- what sort of premises will you have and where will they be located?
- what is your role in the business?
- who is in your team, and what are they doing?
- how is your business operating (how will it be different)?
- what are people saying about your business?
This is their vision.
Using this information, the vision can be articulated as a high level description of the business in the future, underpinned by a set of goals relating to some or all of the specific points above.
mission is a broad statement about how the vision is to be achieved. It can be developed by answering the question “what is it you need to do or change to take your business from where it is now to where you want it to be?” The mission statement is a set of high level strategies which incorporate the key things that need to occur - i.e. expanding product/service lines, increasing the customer base, establishing strategic alliances, opening new outlets, modernising equipment, introducing new management arrangements, automating systems, etc.
From the information contained in the mission statement, a detailed plan with timeframes can be developed for managing the changes. At Small Fish, we use a Strategic Buiness Plan on a page with a 12 to 18 month time frame for this purpose.
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