Help With Strategic Planning

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers some good on-line courses to help you run your business.  They’re free (Well, not really.  You pay for them with your tax dollars so you might as well use them.) but they offer some good information. 

One course you might find useful is called "Creating a Strategic Plan."  If you’ve never done strategic planning, it’s a good place to start.  It uses a Power-Point style presentation that you can follow at your own pace and review as many times as you want.  If you just read and listen to the material, you can do the whole thing in about 15 minutes.  If you do the exercises they suggest, it will take longer.

The course describes a five-step process to creating a strategic plan:

1.  Create a mission statement.  (Hint, the examples given are too long.  You may want to try for something a little shorter.  For example, the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain’s mission is "Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.")

2.  Take an "inventory".  Answer the question "Where are we now?"

3.  Outline your goals and objectives.

4.  Scenario planning-Where do you want to be?

5.  Design an action plan for reaching your goals and objectives.

Generally speaking, the larger the organization, the more complicated the strategic plan can be.  For smaller operations, the plan doesn’t have to be complicated at all.  Remember that any plan is better than no plan at all. You’d better believe that your big box competitors have a strategic plan and competing with you is part of it.  Can you afford to do any less?

Take the course by clicking on this link.  "Creating a Strategic Plan" is number 3 under the Business Planning category.  There is a short no-charge registration that you must fill in to proceed.

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