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Strategic Planning 101: Do You Know What Results You Want to Produce?

Do you know what results you would like to produce with your business?  I find over and over that this is the place where small business owners get stuck, even though it may sound simple.  Knowing what results you want to produce is one of the first essential steps in strategic planning for your business.  Once you know it, it will feel like the lightbulb has really gone on over your head, which is how all of my strategic planning sessions feel and why I enjoy them so much.

Ask First

The first part of any strategic planning session starts with asking, and I have to give credit to my daughter for the succinct wording and my constant reminder to always “ask first.”   This is often where a business coach is the most helpful because I can pry open the answers and help you dig a little deeper.  But if you’re working through this on your own, try a quiet place to think, or a white board to utilize as a vision board, and start asking:

  • What is your value as a business?

  • What benefits does your business give to clients, the community, and you?

  • Clearly state WHAT it IS that you do as a business. (Think action statement)

Find Your Core

Next, you will want to look at your vision statement from your business plan.  If you never made one, you’ll need to create your vision statement now.  Part of your strategic planning will be to align with the core element of your vision statement.  A vision statement is hope for the future-status of the business or world around the business because of the accomplishments you’ve achieved.  It’s different from your mission statement because your mission statement is about the actions you’re making right now and why.

  • What is my vision for a better future thanks to my business?

From your vision statement, what result do you want to produce?  Where does this align with the above questions you just answered?  Something many business owners do when they are just starting a business is go off in too many different directions (Oh, look! Squirrel!).  Finding the core of your vision statement and aligning it with your business’ values, benefits, and functions (what you do), will help you clear away anything auxiliary (extras that you don’t need to focus on).

Find Your Epiphany

By now, I hope a lightbulb has gone on for you.  Answering these questions clearly and specifically can create an epiphany, shift your mindset, and get you in motion like nothing else ever has.

If you haven’t found that epiphany yet, go back and start over.  Answer the questions as specifically (but as succinctly) as you can.  Having a business that you love includes having a vision and knowing what results you want to produce.  I find that fewer words in your statement is more powerful (but also harder to do).

Chunk Your Goals with an Action Plan

If you’ve never heard of the term “chunking,” maybe you’ve heard of the riddle used at so many strategic planning meetings and business seminars:

“How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

That’s chunking; taking care of something one bite at a time.  In this next step, you want to look at the results you want to produce and create an Action Plan by chunking them.

  • The result you want to produce is the end-result. Write this down at the top of a piece of paper.

  • Write down 3 goals on the path to accomplish this result. These are Milestones.

  • For each Milestone, create 3 actions to reach each one. These might be a marketing effort like ads on Facebook, or taking a class to improve your skills.

And now you know what results you want to produce with your business and have an Action Plan ready to be incorporated into your overall strategic planning for your business.   Not many business owners start this journey with a clearly defined vision statement, but if you don’t know where you’re going, why are you in the car driving?  This is truly an important piece for all businesses.

Lorna Whiteaker

Lorna Whiteaker is a San Luis Obispo business consultant and coach dedicated to helping business owners get the results they want. Lorna has over 30 years of experience working with small businesses, working as an administrator in the legal industry and as an independent business consultant helping hundreds of entrepreneurs. With clear and realistic expectations of just what a business owner must deal with in running their business, big or small, she has worked with firms making 7 figures and start-ups with little more than elbow grease and a dream.

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