Successful businesspeople know the importance of good business planning. Many businesses, however, don’t make the distinction between basic planning and strategic planning. What makes a plan strategic?
We’ve all known business leaders who just seem to be well prepared. They’re not thrown off guard by surprises or changes in the marketplace. They almost seem to be clairvoyant. Is it because they are such visionaries? Do they really see what’s coming?
While I have no doubt that there are leaders who are particularly gifted at anticipating where the market is headed, I’d also say that more often than not, these people aren’t clairvoyant, they simply think and plan strategically. It’s not that they have a crystal ball that allows them to see what will happen, it’s that they thank about and plan for a wide variety of options.
It might look a little bit like this:
- If “A” happens, we will do “1.”
- If “B” happens, we will do “2.”
- If “C” happens, we will do “3.”
- If “D” happens, we will call Chuck Kocher! (OK, I made that up, but you get the picture)
The point is that conditions are changing in the marketplace are constantly changing. If your business only has one way of dealing with the marketplace (one plan), you can find yourself in deep trouble if the market shifts.
It’s a bit like a chess game. Really good chess players don’t necessarily think ten moves ahead of their opponents. Instead, they think of ten different moves they can make right now—depending on what their opponent does.
Coming up with a good plan for your business is hard work. You have to think through all the steps involved, who is responsible for each step, how long it’s going to take, and what it’s going to cost. Coming up with a good strategic plan is even harder work. It involves all of the stuff I just mentioned, plus evaluation of the marketplace and coming up with contingent “next steps.”
Not all planning is strategic planning. That’s why a lot of companies look to mentors, advisers, and consultants for help with strategic planning—because those people have been down the strategic pathway a time or two.
If you’re looking for help with your strategic planning, give me a call. Let’s talk about how to plan for the “what-ifs” the marketplace can throw at you.