Responses from business leaders about strategic planning I’ve picked up over time.

Take strategic planning seriously.

Take strategic planning seriously.

Take note, these statements and attitudes hinder you as a business leader.

“I don’t need strategic planning, I’m action oriented. I get things done.”
“Let’s get things done, then if there’s time we can get to the goals.”
“The plan is to make money, what else is there?”
“No one seems to know what direction to go.”
“No worries, trust me, I got this.”
“Why are things so screwed up?”
“What exactly are we doing?”
“Just go do your job.”
“Don’t bother me.”

Okie-dokie. Those statements are all pretty lame responses to doing strategic planning.

Urban Dictionary defines Okie-dokie as “A responder’s affirmation or confirmation to any directive or suggestion. It could be a blow-off just to get closure of, or to end and escape, a painful conversation.”

Yes, strategic planning can be painful. It is painful especially if not aligned with values and personal long term wants.

Then why do so many people keep asking for strategic plans?

Ask yourself why do decision makers want to see 3 or 5 year strategic plans? Why do venture capitalists, angel investors ask for strategic plans? Why do corporate leaders ask for compelling business cases for projects? And why do business owners ask for succession plans?

Banks ask contractors for a 3-year strategic plan with pro-formas and back financials to prove the contractor knows what they are doing in business. They expect owners to demonstrate they are not treating it like a hobby.

Bank business loan officers want to know the company can cover it’s payroll, expenses and can be a long term client.

Investors want to know there’s a sustainable business opportunity. Investors want to know the team proposing the business have what it takes to take advantage of the opportunity. Investors want to know the business can provide value to the market and make money.

Boards want to know the senior management of even small companies knows the direction they are taking the company and that there is real market value in that direction.

Owners of small companies want to have a path for succession where the company is sustainable. Family businesses, without carefully thought out strategic plans, are notorious for falling apart at the 2nd and worse yet at the 3rd generation.

7 reasons to take strategic planning seriously.

  1. Focused direction that you are excited about (because it is aligned with your strengths and talents and not your weaknesses and blind spots).
  2. Clarity about what you want. I’ve had people tell me visions are BS. BS visions are BS. Aligned business visions change the lives of business customers and businesses.
  3. See obstacles to achievement. Obstacles and roadblocks have all kinds of routes around them. Clarify of direction and vision of the future reduce all roadblocks to temporary situations.
  4. Alignment of everyone in the group so you all push in the same direction and you have everyone’s best talents working to achieve the vision and goals.
  5. Growth of sales. A focus on direction means there is a focus on the target market aligned with the business’ strengths, weaknesses.
  6. Achieve margins that you want, so you can continue to grow, leave a legacy, add to your portfolio, add new locations and offerings.
  7. Realize the business you want.

5 Best practices to get strategic planning in place

Strategic planning for Business

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Strategic planning is not a once-a-year off-site. These once-a-year off-sites are useful, however not enough. Strategic plans for small businesses, startups, high growth companies, and changing organizations would be served best by quarterly sessions with monthly and even weekly reviews of status and updates to the strategic plans.

Collaboration and outside help is a must. Small companies and startups can benefit greatly from outside perspectives, skills and accountability to get it right. Getting strategic planning right means they are focused on a direction aligned with their best attributes that fit the target market. Organizations that take strategic planning seriously involve their boards, cohort groups, consultants, coaches, inside and outside financial planners, accounting teams, marketing, sales.

Strategic planning is NOT about delegation to a consultant or another person. That rarely works out. These strategic plans find themselves on a shelf or in a file somewhere, rarely read, never to be executed. Strategic planning is too important. It must be done by the leader in the business with the help of team members.

Strategic planning includes SWOT. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Professional assessments of the company and key personnel is a must for the “SW” in SWOT. This includes understanding values (a key to strengths), skills, attitudes and beliefs, and blind spots (all keys to weakness). The “SW” also means understanding the attitudes across the organization toward their work, customers, leadership, direction of the company.  Opportunities are a direct result of the alignment of the strengths to potential customer’s pains, wants, aspirations and your solutions. Threats are any external competitors, regulations, new entrants that distract or take prospects and customers away from your business.

Make strategic plans succinct. Strategic planning, to be effective, is best when it can be reduced to a 5 minute pitch including numbers, sales, markets, product fit, development. Think executive overview page.

Strategic planning can produce highly effective well-tuned businesses from start-ups, small businesses to established businesses and organizations with aspirations.
Don’t blow this off with an “Okie-dokie” response. Take strategic planning seriously.
If you want to achieve a sustained business with 20% sales growth and 20% margins (or more) let’s talk about options.
Contact me for a complimentary 20 minute session about your business situation.  503-753-9971.

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