Strategic planning can make all the difference to the success or failure of small businesses. Having a clear plan that shows how to get to the next level gives businesses and their employees a roadmap for achieving individual and corporate goals. In this article, Ryan Rock, Ankeny native and President of Empire AG, LLC, provides a 7-step plan for taking businesses to the next level.
Strategic planning is not a single event or meeting; it is a process that continues. Make the planning process a work in progress at all times, and don’t let planning be another agenda item only discussed at meetings from time to time. Reinforce the plan and the planning process daily, and team members will follow.
If a company already has existing statements of the organization’s mission, values, and vision, look at them again and determine if they still meet current objectives. Otherwise, develop an overarching framework for the entire planning process by having a clearly defined mission and corporate culture as the centerpiece of planning objectives.
A strategic plan usually focuses on longer-term objectives that support the company’s mission. Depending on the nature of the business, strategic plans may need to focus on short to medium-term goals from 3 months to a year. Market conditions can change rapidly, requiring modifications to some strategic plans on shorter schedules than initially planned.
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis is a thorough way to define the goals and focus of your strategic plan. Collaborative work in this regard can help refine the thinking about the overall capabilities and objectives of the business. Seek input from every level of the company regarding marketing, sales, production, human resources, and every other significant aspect.
The strategic plan will inform what primary goals each department should define and focus on. As CEO, it is important to establish a transparent chain of command with the department heads regarding their responsibilities and how they provide feedback on goal fulfillment and modifications. Direct involvement with each department head in this regard will provide leadership and promote progress in every part of the company.
Competition among departments and within small team units in reaching goals can be a very effective and fun way to ensure that strategic plans are being followed. Team members typically enjoy keeping score regarding success and can use feedback to improve their performance. Employees will feel a personal investment in reaching department and company goals when performance is rated objectively and rewarded appropriately.
Establish deadlines for measurements of performance and schedule regular meetings to help hold each member of management responsible for determining periodic successes and failures. If a plan metric or measurement is ineffective or not practical, change it or scrap it for something better as soon as possible.
Ryan Rock of Ankeny, Iowa, successfully maintains a proactive work, family, and life balance. During his college career, Rock balanced multiple activities, which also forced him to categorize his priorities. Rock’s time management and prioritizing skills allow his company, Empire AG, LLC, to take up multiple projects and deliver quality work. His accomplishments and optimistic view on life allow him to live out his dream as head of a company that provides turnkey construction services.