As an online business manager, a common question I get is “What does strategic planning actually mean?”.
It’s a broad question, and the answer will depend on what exactly you’re planning.
Strategic planning looks slightly different in every business, but it’s definitely something that can be a huge benefit for meeting your business goals.
You’re probably wondering how to get started with strategic planning.
Let’s take a look at what strategic planning is, why it matters, and how you can put it into action in your business.
What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning can be as simple as sitting down at the beginning of each week to make sure there’s a plan for everything you want to have accomplished by Friday. Or, it can encompass an overarching plan for the next several years in your business.
In reality, strategic planning is both. It’s a short-term process that helps you stay focused and on track through your day-to-day tasks while keeping big picture goals in mind. It’s also a systematic way to map out all of these activities in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness across your business.
In other words, strategic planning is a way to keep your company’s goals in mind as you work through the day-to-day tasks. It helps ensure that every action aligns with those goals and improves overall efficiency across the company.
Plus, strategic planning helps ensure nothing falls through the cracks so you can focus on getting things done with ease and flow.
Using Strategic Planning to Meet Business Goals
When most people think of strategic planning, they think of the annual process that a lot of businesses use to map out their goals for the year. While this is definitely one way to use strategic planning, it’s not the only way. You can also use strategic planning for shorter-term projects like weekly or monthly goals, or even specific tasks.
When I work with clients, we focus on strategic planning for bigger goals like launches, new offers, and annual planning to start. Then, we narrow down the focus to the quarter, the month, and even the coming week. This can be a process they complete on their own but it’s often a joint effort that we collaborate on.
There are a lot of different strategic planning methods out there and, honestly, the best one for you is the one that works. The key is to find a process that helps you stay focused on your goals and gives you room to move as needed.
The bottom line: strategic planning isn’t about checking boxes or filling in templates (although those can be helpful). It’s about creating a system that helps you stay focused on your goals and makes it easier to get things done.
Now that we’ve covered a bit about what strategic planning is, let’s talk about why it matters.
Why Strategic Planning Matters
The most obvious reason strategic planning matters is because it leads to better results. When you have a plan that’s focused on your goals, it’s easier to achieve them. And, as we all know, achieving our goals is what makes our businesses thrive.
However, strategic planning isn’t just about better results – it’s also about improving the process of reaching those results. By taking the time to map out your activities and align them with your goals, you’re creating a system that makes it easier to get things done. This not only saves time and energy but also prevents overlap and wasted effort.
In other words, strategic planning can help improve efficiency across your business.
Finally, strategic planning helps keep everyone on the same page. When everyone in your business knows where you’re headed, they can do their part to help get you there.
What it all comes down to is the fact that strategic planning helps you accomplish more with less effort by making sure that no action is taken without a goal in mind. It also improves communication and keeps everyone on the same page — and, of course, it leads to better results.
Putting Strategic Planning Into Action
Now that we’ve talked about the basics of strategic planning, let’s look at a specific example.
Towards the end of 2021, a lot of my client calls focused on strategic plans for Q1 launches.
The first few steps were always as follows:
- What are we going to offer to our audience?
- When are we going to offer it to our audience?
- What’s the pre-launch period?
- What are the existing pieces we can repurpose?
- What are the new pieces that have to be created?
Once we establish those basic details together, I break out the steps needed to complete each part of the launch with due dates, deliverables, and task assignments. The client then signs off on the launch plan and the team gets to work.
This type of strategic planning allows you to combine both working towards something larger while still staying laser-focused on what needs to be accomplished right now. The strategic planning process is important because it allows you to focus on your overall business goals while ensuring that every task actually gets done.
When we’re working on a bigger project, it’s very easy to get lost in the weeds of the day-to-day tasks and lose sight of the larger goal. On the flip side, it’s also very easy to focus so much on the outcome that the actual concrete items that need to happen never get the attention they need.
Stay On Track and On Task with Strategic Planning
Strategic planning creates the roadmap to make sure you’re always working towards the end goal and that every task fits into that larger goal.
It’s strategic because it allows you to work backward from the big picture goal and then break that down into concrete tasks with due dates, deliverables, and task assignments.
For many visionaries, they have no problem with the big picture goal of launching or creating the program, but they struggle with all the micro-steps to get from idea to actual delivered product.
When I work with clients, we’ll focus together on that big vision so I know the basics of what they want to accomplish. I can then use those basics to build out the strategic plan that helps keep them and the entire team on track to accomplishing the goal on the timeline we set.
By leveraging strategic planning in your business, you can help ensure you’re set up for success weekly, monthly and all year long.