Before starting any business or founding a startup, the crucial thing in the process is writing a business plan.
A business plan is simply a program of your project. Writing a business plan, you are representing short and mid-term goal of your project and all the necessary steps to achieving your goals. But do we need some other plans, or should we watch as near in the future as we can in order to succeed.
After Casper Ravn-Sørensen, creating a solid business plan is not enough. It is enough for the beginning, to make your key points and to see whether you actually are interested in what you are doing. But making a strategic plan is a key to success. And it’s not as easy as you would think it might be!
What is strategic planning?
Let’s start by defining what strategic planning actually is.
It is a part of strategic management, which involves all the goals of the organization of the project and plans for the implementation of those methods. When you are looking at a goal as a word, your primary goal is, presume, to open a company. If your goal is just to be an entrepreneur and that other people call you one, you are unfortunately not likely to succeed. The main goal of your project or a company should be to help someone in a certain way.
In order to help, one has to solve a certain problem. If the problem is already solved, then you have to make sure that you will solve it better than anyone else. To do that, you will have to investigate everything about your competition and their ways and means of solving the problems in that area. Be aware that you are not to copy your competition’s ways of doing business. Be unique, find other ways of communication, marketing and function of the project.
What are your goals?
Everything that you do in life has a deeper meaning if it has a certain goal related to it. When you are, for example, starting the school, your goal is to finish it. If you are playing some game, your goal can be either to win, or just to have a nice time with your friends, depending on what kind of a person you are. But considering you are reading this and the fact that you are a young entrepreneur-to-be, you own a spirit of a winner.
Your startup has to have a goal around which you and your team are surrounded. But you are writing a strategic plan, not a business plan. So your goal cannot be short-term. In strategic planning, you should focus on setting your overall goals for your business. It should be a set of long-term goals that are determining in which direction your project can go. Usually, strategic planning goals are very hard to perceive and understand because they rely on hypothesis. But if you and your team are passionate enough about that hypothesis, then there is no one that can stop you in achieving your goals. In contrast, business plan goals are presented as a road map for a direction, not a way to the destination.
How are you going to achieve your goals?
In order to get to the goals, you and your team have thought of, you need to follow certain actions. You will need means/resources to get to the destination of your road map. So, there are two things you should prepare:
- Actions for setting goals
- Resources for those actions
The strategy for making a plan of actions and resources can be planned and observed. Planned strategy means that you and your team of people, using your analytical powers, presume and plan the actions and resources. When it comes to observed strategy, it would mean that you, together with your team, are keeping track of the state of your company. That includes marketing procedures and their influence on the customers, key indicators and any other setting that can show how your audience reacts on your product or service.
What should you calculate?
Overall, you will have to cover all the fields of your business and do a thorough investigation on what it is that is working and what is not. There aren’t only positive things in strategic planning as it may seem on a business plan. And there are certainly some things you wouldn’t be able to predict. But let your and your team’s imagination flow and do your best in presuming. Maybe the best way is to answer to some key questions that will allow you to make a better overview and to look at things from more perspectives:
- What are weaknesses and strengths of your company?
- What are your and your team’s personal values?
- What could be the opportunities and threats of the industry in your environment?
- What are societal expectations on a broader level?
After you have answered to the key questions, the next part would be to connect all the dots and do some strategic thinking in order to get a clearer overview over things. The best thing is that you are passionate about what you are doing, and so is your team, and in that way, you are able to make the best of your strategic planning.
What are the visions and the expected outcomes?
In order to gain a perfect knowledge of your project, you should have an answer on some questions more related to the visions and the expected outcomes of your plan:
- Which skills and interests does the organization and the people involved in it already have?
- What are the skills we can gain and in which period of time?
- On which stage is the customers’ interest and satisfaction?
- What can we do to better the satisfaction?
- What is the value that keeps old customers in our company?
- Can we add values in order to attract new span of consumers?
- What is the geographic scope of your organization?
- What is the thing that differentiates you from your competitors?
- What is your competitive advantage?
By answering those questions, you are able to calculate the risks and manage them in a considerable period of time. Your business and strategic planning should be complementary and effective. By shifting the focus from your everyday and weekly problems to solving long-term issues, you are going to develop a mechanism for going around probable risks.
And in the end – implementation
After formulating and understanding all the means of your business, you are to implement the strategy you have been working on. Of course, there is a chance not everything you and your team have predicted is going smooth. But at least you have pointed out your goals and actions, and probable risks on the way to success. The most important thing in doing the strategic planning are the analytical minds of the people doing the business and an objective point of view. How often you will upgrade it depends on your company’s growth and on the dynamics of your environment.