Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
What is strategic planning? It seems like another one of those business terms that is thrown around haphazardly as though everyone has a clear understanding of what it is and how it is used.
Well, it is actually one of those things that you might label as, “if it was that simple, everyone would be doing it.” To a certain extent, it is. However, the problem some people run into with strategic planning who do strategic planning is about the quality of the plan.
For example: if you were planning to go on a trip that was going to end up being a couple hundred miles away, and you were going to stay for a few days to enjoy the weather, relax on the beach and enjoy lovely sunsets, the first question you would have is “Where should I go?”
Doing a little qualitative research – getting other people’s opinions about where to go might give you some direction. So you might get answers such as Panama City Florida, Hilton Head North Carolina, Wildwood, New Jersey, etc.
While these might be good answers, these aren’t the only questions you want to ask. Based on these answers you still need understanding of more quantitative questions, such as:
- How much will it cost?
- How do I get there?
- What is the best method of travel?
- What can I do when I get there?
- What is the best overall solution for me to achieve my goal of relaxing by the beach and enjoying lovely sunsets?
Like your trip, in your business, you have an end goal, such as expanding products and services, getting a larger building, increasing customer awareness, etc. While you could simply take the plunge and move forward, hoping for the best, strategic planning will help to discover some of the unknowns, such as
- How are people spending right now?
- What government regulations will impact my business?
- What other market entrants are preparing to take part of my market share?
- What competitive products and services exist that will create a challenge for me?
- How much will it actually cost me to develop this product or service, including marketing, testing and other ancillary costs?
- What technologies are on the horizon that you could a) take advantage of or b) would make your product or services obsolete?
- What will I do if the market shifts, or my plans do go wrong?
Strategic planning, as a tool, is a tool that you can use to help your business plan for the future in order to reach the goals you have for your organization. Surviving in the marketplace requires the ability to make good decisions, based not only on your instincts and experiences, but also on available information and some creativity. It is never done in a bubble, but within the marketplace system, whose only goal is to continue matching buyers to sellers.
At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are a Small Business Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping business leaders and executives organize, plan and develop strategies for their organizations. We are committed to our clients’ success.