Signs That You Need a Strategic Plan - dummies

By Erica Olsen

Having a strategic plan and a succinct strategy that brings clarity and focus to your organization ensures that your time, resources, and actions aren’t wasted. Planning for the future is important, but very few businesses actually do it. Following are some warning signs that tell you whether you need a new strategy for your strategic planning process.

  • Someone asks where your business will be in one year, and you don’t have an answer. You ask your partners or management team the same question, and you hear wildly different answers.

  • You have some idea where you want to go in the next year, but you don’t have any idea what you’re going to do to make next year a reality.

  • Your company won’t hit its revenue goals this year. Although many reasons may exist for the shortfall, you’re not sure how to grow the top line.

  • Your brochure, website, sales collateral, and so on have inconsistencies. You can’t understand the content. More importantly, neither can anyone else. You find that when you explain your business to a potential client, you tell different stories about how you provide value.

  • You’re ignoring your competition. You don’t know who your number-one competitor is and what it’s doing, who its clients are, what products it offers, what its pricing is, or what its key message points are. When your customers ask you to explain why your company is different, you don’t have a good response.

  • Everything on your to-do list is a priority. You don’t know where your time is best spent.

  • Friends and colleagues can’t refer you because they aren’t sure exactly what value your business provides and to whom. They often ask, “What is it you do again?”

  • You’re presented with a business opportunity and are unsure how to evaluate whether it’s something your company should pursue. In fact, you normally pursue all opportunities for fear you may miss the big one.

  • You enjoy what you do, but you aren’t passionate about your business. You’d quit everything and follow that passion tomorrow if you could.

  • Your business development consists largely of attending networking events, but you spend most of your time talking to people you know. You rely solely on word-of-mouth for new customers.

  • You don’t know why your customers buy from you. The majority continues to do business with your company, but you’re not sure what keeps them coming back. You’ve never really asked.

  • You find your clients contracting with other companies for services you provide. When asked, they say they didn’t know you offered those services.

  • You ask your employees what success looks like, and they don’t have a consistent answer. And your incentive plan doesn’t sync up with performance expectations.

  • You complain when your customers call because you just don’t have time to talk to them. You notice your staff complaining, too.

  • You don’t do market research or solicit customer feedback because you (think you) know your market. You’ve been in the industry for years and you (think you) know customers’ need and wants.

  • You determine your pricing by looking at your competitor’s prices and discounting slightly. All your prices are based on your competitors’ offerings.

  • You can’t articulate what your company does best but find that it’s a good point of discussion at a cocktail party.

  • You’re asked why you’re in business, and your only response is profit.

Do any of these statements sound familiar? If so, it’s time to get serious about your business and get focused. If every part of your organization isn’t pointed in the same direction, you can end up going in circles and frustrating yourself and your employees. Why not get strategic now and make it your most successful year ever!