As an entrepreneur, you are working every day to manage and grow your business.  The day-to-day operations of your business can be overwhelming, making it possible for you to lose sight of your long-term business goals. This where strategic planning comes in. Strategic business planning maps out your goals for the next couple of years.

While your marketing plan (hyperlink to Marketing Plan) will largely detail your short- to mid-term goals in the next 12 months, your strategic planning is all about everything beyond that. Do you plan to sell your business at a healthy profit in the future? Do you hope to sell your product worldwide? Your strategic business plan will help you answer these questions so they will not be forgotten amid your day-to-day responsibilities.

Why Entrepreneurs Need Strategic Planning

If you are already swamped with fulfilling orders, creating marketing campaigns and managing employees, you might feel as though you do not have time for long-term planning. However, you need to have more than a loose idea of your long-term goals to help you make decisions in your everyday operations.

While you might not buy into the whole “The Secret” and “The Law Of Attraction” hocus-pocus, having a clear vision of the future of your business really does make it more likely for you to succeed. When you have ideas about building a highly profitable business, you will have the anticipation of success to keep you going, even when the going gets rough. An even more tangible benefit is the fact that you will have these objectives in mind when solving problems during daily operations. You’ll be more likely to find solutions that work in the long-term, rather than quick fixes for immediate problems.

Your Strategic Planning Mission Statement

Begin a strategic plan with a vision statement, or mission statement. This is where you will briefly describe how you expect your business to grow in the next couple of years. You can choose the timeframe; three to five years is optimal. Aim high, and remember, you are the founder and main visionary of your business. When you’re putting all of your blood, sweat and tears into your business, it’s not unusual to start feeling more like an employee than a boss.

Creating A SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis help build your strategic business plan. What is a SWOT analysis? Well, SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.”

Strengths. What are your businesses’ strengths in relation to the goals outlined in your mission statement? Your unique product features and up-to-date equipment technologies are strengths that will help you become an industry leader.

Weaknesses. Do you have high overhead costs? Maybe your competitors offer a wider selection of services. Fill out your “weaknesses” section with honesty and completeness. Recognizing your business’ real weaknesses, instead of only focusing on your strengths, will allow you to think critically to overcome them.

Opportunities. Are you releasing a new, premium product? Do you know of a fast-growing market in another country? Go over any opportunities you’re planning to take advantage of in the next few years.

Threats. What could be threatening to your profits and the future of your business? Maybe you only have one supplier, making your business vulnerable to their rising prices or changes in operations.

If you have employees or business partners, make sure to hold a brainstorming session and get them involved in your strategic planning process. Now is the time to bring up new ideas and opportunities, as well as create a realistic understanding of upcoming challenges to overcome.