It will help you prepare a realistic vision for the future of your business and in doing so can maximise your business' potential for growth.A strategic plan should not be confused with a business plan.- is at the heart of the strategic planning process, it can only be considered usefully in the context of the other two.
So you need to make sure that you conduct as thorough as possible an analysis of both your business and your market.
There is a range of strategic models that you can use to help you structure your analysis here.
A business plan is about setting short- or mid-term goals and defining the steps necessary to achieve them.
A strategic plan is typically focused on a business' mid- to long-term goals and explains the basic strategies for achieving them.
Or you might decide to block off a day or two for strategy brainstorming sessions - part of which might involve seeking contributions from a broader range of employees and even key customers.
Getting the planning document right The priority with strategic planning is to get the process right.These models provide a simplified and abstract picture of the business environment.SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis is probably the best-known model and is used by both smaller and bigger businesses in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors alike.Try to find a mix of creative thinkers and those with a solid grasp of operational detail.A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't try to do it all yourself.Take on board the opinions of other staff - key employees, accountants, department heads, board members - and those of external stakeholders, including customers, clients, advisors and consultants.How to structure the process There is no right or wrong way to plan the process of strategic planning, but be clear in advance about how you intend to proceed.As your business becomes larger and more complex, so strategy formulation will need to become more sophisticated, both to sustain growth and to help you muster the leadership and resources you need to keep your business developing.To do this, you will also need to start collecting and analysing a wider range of information about your business - both about how it operates internally and about how conditions are developing in your current and potential markets.The purpose of strategic planning is to set your overall goals for your business and to develop a plan to achieve them.It involves stepping back from your day-to-day operations and asking where your business is headed and what its priorities should be.