How to Create a Strategic Plan Even if You Dislike Planning
Do you cringe when you think about having to create a strategic plan? If you’re an entrepreneur or creative thinker, you probably do. For many, it’s the nitty-gritty detail that puts them off. Conceptually, strategic planning is exciting; you’re creating a possible future from your ideas. Transforming from concept to processes and actions is where it becomes boring, right?
I believe any plan is better than none. You need to know where you’re going if you’re going to get there. So, let’s change the way you think about strategic plans and create your own version of a plan. We’ll focus on the big picture, where you do your best work.
The key to this process is to use your imagination and creativity, and not get pinned down by details.
The Simple Way to Develop Your Mission, Vision and Values.
There are three key questions to be answered here.
- Where are you now? You need to answer this question so you have a clearly identified starting point. At some stage in the future, you’re going to look back, hoping to see how far you’ve come. Without knowing your starting point, you won’t be able to measure your progress. What are you doing well now? What are your key products or services? What are people saying about you and your business?
- What do you want to be known for? This is about the difference your business makes in the world. What is your ultimate goal? Why did you start this business in the first place? What is important to you? It’s never just about money or fame.
- Where do you want to be in 10 - 15 years’ time? This is your destination. What is your dream?
A SWOT Without the Sweat.
You’ve heard of a SWOT analysis but don’t worry. We’re not going there. Instead, I want you to look at just 3 key aspects.
- What are you doing now to help you get to your destination? You probably know the answer to this question already. Think about what is working well for your business – systems, training, processes and people.
- What are you doing now that will hold you back? You’ll know the answer to this, too. What isn’t working well? What’s annoying you or making work difficult for you, your people or your customers?
- Where are the gaps in your information? You won’t have all the answers to questions 1 and 2, so what information is missing? For example, just because you’ve heard no complaints about your website, it doesn’t mean it’s working well. If you don’t have some sort of evidence to support your answers to questions 1 and 2, there’s a gap.
Don’t try to be detailed about this if it doesn’t come naturally to you. Too much detail can paralyse your thinking processes. The idea here is to give you something to work on without getting bogged down in data.
You can’t easily build a business alone, and if you’re wise, you’ll accept the help of those who offer it to you.
- Who can help you get there? You’ve probably already realised you need the help of someone who’s good at detail, but what other help might you need? An advocate? A coach? A team? Put names to your potential helpers, if you can. Later, you can approach them to see how you could work together.
- Where are the gaps in your team/people/supporters? Are there skill and knowledge gaps, or perhaps you simply don’t have enough people to achieve what you hope to do. By identifying the gaps, you can start looking for new team members or systems to fill them.
By this stage, you have enough information to start firming up your plan. This is where your creativity becomes the most useful tool you have.
- Where do you want your business to be in 3 – 5 years? Use your imagination to paint yourself a picture. What are you and your business doing? What are people saying about you? How do you feel? Don’t be afraid to think big. Give yourself a dream worth chasing.
- What are the top 3 goals you want to achieve in the next 12 months that will move you closer to your dream? You might like to think in terms of people, processes and technology.
- What is one thing will you do in the next month to get started on each goal? This is as detailed as your plan needs to get. What’s the first step you will take with each of those goals?
Some of this is about keeping yourself accountable for your plan, but it’s also about monitoring your progress. You need to be sure you’re on the right track and it’s rewarding to see how far you’ve come.
- When will you review your progress over the next 12 months? Set a date and book it in your diary.
- Who will help you do it? It’s handy to have someone to remind you to monitor your progress, and even handier to have them review it with you. Who can you rely on to help you do this? Book them now!
That’s a simple way to create a strategic plan for your business without boring yourself silly.
A business without a strategic plan is like a rudderless ship, so it’s vital to have one.
If you would like more guidance on the creation of your plan, feel free to download the 7 Step Strategic Mapping & Planning Checklist, free from our website.