By Ron Simmons & Dede Gossage
For the third time in over a decade, the Gainesville SBDC team will meet with the leadership from a client organization to assist them with the development of an in-depth strategic plan. It has been an exciting journey consulting with them and observing growth during their early formative years and sustaining growth post-recession. This year we will co-collaborate with one of our sister offices, the *DeKalb SBDC office who help us with the Strategic Planning process. Well known for the creation of in-depth Strategic Planning tools, Sharon and the DeKalb office uses them to assist many area businesses in the Metro Atlanta area. Collaboration with other SBDC consultants from area offices is always a bonus!
A few of the Initiatives that have been realized as result of their planned strategy have been; product diversity, the acquisition of expansion capital, increased sales goals and job growth. The growth was not without tenacity and dogged entrepreneurial determination to succeed.
Previous strategy sessions with this organization have led to achieved goals and objectives that have positioned the owners of the organization for a profitable exit. We say, BRAVO! In light of their success (and looking forward to this final strategic session with the owners) , we thought it might be helpful to offer insight on the content of a working Strategic Plan. The following information addresses those components.
A well planned strategy answers the following questions about company and its direction; who are we, where do we want to go, where are we now, how did you get here and finally, how will we get to where we want to be and how will we know when we have succeeded?
First, address the Vision of what you see as the ultimate objective(s) for this time next year in terms of physical appearance, activities, size and sales revenue. This planning exercise includes a revisit of your current mission statement which describes the nature of the business. It is the ‘why’ in the marketing plan that drives you to do what you do every day and supports the business key purposes. Posted in several locations both internally and externally, the stated mission of the business helps employees and management maintain a collective focus on what you are doing and why.
Address core values. The values of your company act as a guiding influence on conduct and internal behaviors with employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
An evaluation using a S.W.O.T. analysis is a good tool to assess internal strengths, weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. It is also a good idea to evaluate this analysis based on both a current and future perspective. Performing this exercise has high value because a company generally has control over the internal environment and often little control over the external environment. The external environmental factors may include things like competition, governmental regulations, industry trends, and competitors’ actions.
The development of specific goals with the ability to quantify outcome(s) is a necessary component of a strategic plan. These goals generally target short-term dates in pursuit of longer term objectives.
Implementation is the linchpin that ties a strategic plan together with successful outcomes. The process includes tactical steps known as Action Plans (AP). Items included as AP’s are resource assignment; financial analysis, people & time-frame utilization as well as Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).KPI’s are the measuring tools used to determine progress of the goals and objectives in the Strategic Plan. Everyone on the Strategic Planning team should be given a copy of the final plan with targeted dates and assignments for accountability.
Finally, we have a saying at the SBDC that we share often with our clients, ‘develop a habit of working “ON” your business and not always “IN” your business. Strategic Planning is that part of the “ON” your business that is a key component to successful goal achievement and business growth. Plan your work, then work your plan and remember, we are here to help when you need a coach!
*Special thanks to Area Director, Sharon Macaluso with the DeKalb SBDC for her Strategic Planning content included in this article.#GASBDC