There is not a business on the planet that would not like to improve its bottom line and develop a more sustainable business plan. This is where working on your company’s strategic planning to manage your growth and grow your profit margins can come in very handy.
These steps will help you make the most of your strategic planning process to improve how you manage your business.
1. Make sure all of your company is represented in any strategic planning meetings.
Most of the time, when companies are looking to rework their strategic planning process, they kick it off with a company wide organizational meeting. Not every person in your organization needs to attend this but each department needs to be represented. If you leave any department out, their needs will not be represented nor will that department have any input into your overall restructuring plan. This will lead to trouble down the road. Plan an agenda and have someone there to facilitate the event.
Take stock of your current business climate. Before you assemble people from each department, you need to have each look at their role in the business and spend some time looking at the business environment. What outside forces are at play that may impact your business’s profit margin. This can include things such as what your competitors are doing, what developments there have been in your industry and trends in the market. You need your staff to be looking at where your company can grow and improve.
2. Do a SWOT analysis.
You need to begin with a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of your business. You cannot really asses what you need to do to grow the business without understanding completely where you are at the time of the analysis. Many strategic planning consultants use these to help companies properly evaluate their internal strengths and any external factors that can help or hurt the business. They recommend you have your people answer several basic questions:
- What are your strengths? What does your company do well? What do you offer your clients or customers that none of your competitors can offer? Why should people come to you vs. other companies for similar products or services.
- What are your weaknesses? Where do you think you can improve on what you do? What mistakes do you see your business making on a regular basis? Why would people go to your competition for the same goods and services that you offer? If you have a big problem with employee conflict resolution or turnover, these should be listed in your weaknesses.
- What are your opportunities? Are there things that are happening in your industry that you can take advantage of? Are there changes underway in the industry that can help you? How can you position yourself to take advantage of new technology?
- What threats should you watch out for? Are there things happening in your industry or with your competitors that can hurt your business? Are there changes that are about to be made to regulations that impact what you do?
3. Reevaluate your brand and your mission statement.
Some companies never change their brand or mission statement. For example, Ford Motor Company manufactures cars and trucks. The chances are good that it will not change its mission statement. General Electric, however, is in the middle of trying to transition from being a company whose focus is manufacturing to a more software based brand. It does not hurt to spend some time looking at your company’s mission statement to see if it has changed or should be changed. Your goals may have changed since you started your company.
4. Develop a real plan of action.
Once you have looked at your SWOT analysis, reevaluated your goals and mission and looked at external forces in the market, you are ready to map out the steps you will take to improve your business. You need a concrete list of actionable items. You need to be able to write them down, prioritize the tasks, assign them to different staff members and set a time frame for their completion.
If you work with your staff and everyone is brutally honest, you can really make progress and improve your bottom line.