Creating a Strategic Plan

What is a strategic plan? Do I need one?

Strategic planning is often used to create a solution to a specific problem. For example, restaurants that have great nighttime business but no volume during the day would benefit from a strategic plan specifically focused on increasing daytime business. Small independent bookstores struggling to compete with neighborhood giants would benefit from strategic planning to highlight competitive advantages in order to attract traffic to their shops. A clothing store with high sales volume but slow inventory turns would benefit from a strategic plan specifically targeted improving productivity of their merchandise buys. Do you see where we are going with this?

Ask yourself the following questions to see if your strategic plan is truly "strategic" and then feel free to send us your answers to see if we can help you plan to get back on track.

Are your strategic ideas:

  • Well-thought out?
    Strategic planning involves a thoughtful situational analysis of your business, whether you’re just starting-up or already have a well-established operation. The more thoughtful the plan, the better results it will have on your business.
  • Prioritized?
    Frequently, retail entrepreneurs entertain and act upon too many ideas, rather than suffer from a lack of ideas. While an abundance of ideas is always encouraged, without strategic planning that takes the priority of initiatives into account, the plan becomes overwhelming and un-actionable.
  • Goal-specific?
    Setting goals is an important way to make sure you are staying on track with your strategy. Do you have an idea of what you want to get out of your strategic plans and what they will be measured against?
  • Tied to specific problems?
    Do you know what specific problems you are trying to solve? Being able to connect your strategy to specific issues with your business will make it easier to understand, execute and measure.
  • Connected to budgets and timetables?
    How much your strategy will cost, if it fits into your overall budget and how long you plan to allow for execution all have implications on your ability to implement in a way that makes sense for your business. Creating accountability to budgets and timelines will help keep you on track. Do you have an overall budget and an idea of how long implementation will take you?
  • Complementary to your other initiatives?
    In a strategic plan, each ingredient (location, merchandise, design, marketing, inventory and technology) needs to be carefully examined in order to detect opportunities and room for improvement that will ultimately affect the business from a holistic standpoint. How will your strategic plan work with everything else going on with your business?
  • Aligned with customer preferences and behaviors?
    When evaluating your ideas (and you may have a ton of great ones) you need to be able to really articulate how and why they will resonate with your customers, and if you can’t, then back to the drawing board!
  • Realistic based on your resources and infrastructure?
    You may have all of the best ideas in the world for how to improve your business, but if you don’t have the resources and infrastructure to support the plan, it will be an irrelevant and ineffective problem solving tool. Think about this carefully and ask yourself—is this realistic and can I really implement this strategy?

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