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What is a strategic plan and why have it?

Whether you are just starting out or are an established business, you need to know how you are performing.In a very simple term, the strategic plan is a document that should tell you. Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How are we going to get there? Without a plan every day is a crisis. If the only plan you have is to sell more today than yesterday and when that doesn’t happen panic sets in. Why does panic set in? Chances are that you/your company did not know that the competition was taking market share as the competition had a strategic plan and they could see what was happening in front of them? Therefore able to respond to changing market place, be it product, technology, service etc…Hence they were able to meet the customer needs better than you can therefore able to take market share. Strategic planning will allow you to anticipate the inevitable, but if you do not know what the inevitable will be, you certainly can’t plan for it, if you have no plan then you got no where to go and look for answers. Regardless to the size of the business, running of a business is a numbers game pure and simple. It’s about customers, competitors and your unique selling proposition. Strategic planning is the identification of what we as a company can do to satisfy the specific requirements of a defined collection of customers better than our competitors. It is our core technology converted into our unique selling proposition for those customer types that the company seeks to do business with Developing a strategic planning process will enable you to identify what problems group of distinct number of customers have and the packaging of your solution in such a way that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for your competitors to copy for those customers.  In order to develop this plan a team of people from your business are required to identify types of opportunities and the allocation of resources in the form of a strategy that will allow you to exploit the market condition that you operate in Therefore the main objective of strategic planning is to identify future challenges and describe the actions you and your company intend to take to burst through them and achieve accelerated growth required. Business is about solving problems for customers. The goal should be to delight the customers with solutions to problems before they know they have them. They are constantly looking for ways to deliver excellent satisfaction by modifying their products to keep up with their constantly changing requirements. Once detailed strategic plan has been developed it  needs to be clearly laid out in a detail form which will show who is going to do what, what resources will  be required in a specific time frame, and what are the expected profitable outcomes; and how are we going to control and measure progress along the way quarter-by-quarter? month by month. Therefore the real purpose is to determine what the company must accomplish so the business will continue to grow profitably over the next year and beyond The ultimate goal for a strategic plan is to enable your team to focus on a small set of desirable, clearly articulated outcomes in order to produce desired results.  A CLEAR FOCUS and VISION has to be the main goal Developing a strategic plan may seem daunting at first, and the first attempt may prove difficult, but the fact is you have a plan which would be better than not having one at all. As you go on this journey you will get better at the process and your plan will mature and evolve with your market. In a very simple form here are few steps that help will you on your way 1. DIAGNOSIS. Identify challenges, issues, and problems facing the company. This requires brutal honesty. As the saying goes “garbage in garbage out” Collect accurate data and information, involve others in the business to ensure you have good solid information Explore your internal environment as well as external environment.   2. DEFINITION. List the issues that you have identified, then how you are going to solve the problem  3. DETAILS. Specific action plans which will overcome the obstacles diagnosed in item #1.  4. DIFFERENTIATION. Your strategic plan must identify what makes you and your company different from the competition. There must be some way for you to clearly articulate what makes your company unique in the marketplace In summary a strategic plan is absolutely critical for your business and it should not be treated as “nice to have” document.    
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