Your Strategic Plan

This is the eighteenth, and final,  (hold your applause) installment in our series based on Challenges of the
Future: The Rebirth of Small Independent Retail in America
, a 64 page white paper by Jack Stanyon, underwritten by the George H. Baum
Community Charitable Trust, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, and the
National Retail Federation Foundation. 

Over the course of this series we’ve looked at the eight trends and six challenges facing retailers according to Stanyon.  This time we’re looking at challenge #6, the limitation of management skills and capabilities. 

Stanyon isn’t implying, and I’m not either, that independent retailers lack management skill.  What he is saying is that the increasing pace of change (challenge #3) is making it hard for all of us to keep up.  He writes, "The increasing complexity of business and the speed of change place an increasing premium on financial knowledge, strategic planning, and leadership.  This is a critical area of focus for small independents because there is no longer the kind of margin for error that might have existed in the past."

You wear a lot of different hats every day.  You’re very busy.  Running a business is a full-time job, and then some.  There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day.  Quoting Stanyon again, "Stepping back from the day-to-day operations to look at the business strategically is a common problem for small independents." 

You’re the CEO of your business.  Your most important job is making the big decisions that drive the dollars to the bottom line.  That, along with meeting and interacting with your customers and staff, is the most important thing you can do every day.  It makes perfect sense to hire someone, either internally or externally to do the routine tasks that really aren’t worth your time.

But, be careful!  Hiring an accountant, for example, doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility of overseeing the work.  An accountant may know numbers, but he doesn’t necessarily understand your business.  That’s your job.

None of us knows everything.  Every day there seems to be more to know and less time to learn.  You need a strategic plan and you need to delegate the less-important things so you can focus on that plan.  A good plan should include learning goals for you and everyone in your organization. 

There are excellent resources available to the independent retailer to help develop a strategic plan.  It shouldn’t be complicated and it shouldn’t be expensive.  Check out some of the "Useful Links" on the left, or do a Google search for "strategic planning". 

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the Small Business Administration offers on-line courses on planning on their web site. If you need help, contact your local small business development center.  The Association of Small Business Development Centers website will direct you to your local SBDC.

The beginning of the new year is an excellent time to put a new strategic plan into effect.  Updated at least every year, it should help you focus your time and energy in the areas where you’re most effective, and that’s a win/win for everyone.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: