I wrote my first strategic plan in March 2014 after I landed my first blogging contract. It’s a flimsy, double-spaced two pages, yet despite its many flaws, it set me on the path to where I am as a business owner. Now I am lucky enough to have a year ahead with multiple clients, suppliers, and developing projects. My 2017 strategic plan remains my organic guide to the next stage of growth.
Purpose, value, intention, and capability are all encompassed in your business strategy—an overused and undervalued term. How you choose to execute that strategy should be accessible to you, your team, and your advisors through an easily readable plan. Every entrepreneur should have a strategic plan—no matter if you’re leading a multi-million dollar organization or an emerging business like mine.
This year I constructed my plan by following a strategic plan template by Dave Lavinksy, which allows you to be as comprehensive as needed. Specifically, I’ve dedicated 15 hours of my business time on strategic planning, and I’ve shared it with trusted advisors and my internal team members.
Yet when I shared this idea with fellow WBEs in my professional circle, they were stunned that I was devoting this amount of time to goal setting. However, I view this time as essential. Each year I am purposefully creating a culture of success for me, my team, and for anyone I come in contact with.
1. Find your patterns.
- Dedicate reflective time for yourself. How does your team spend time? What projects or clients give you the most joy? What expenses are taxing the bottom line? What or who are your pain points? Research proves businesses grow with reflection.
2. Edit and prioritize your goals.
- Let those patterns guide your thinking. What do you want to achieve this year? How about in three years? How about in five years? Keep that list. Now prioritize your goals.
3. Invest in small moves.
- Most goals go by the wayside because you didn’t do the work. You have a beautiful planner, a trendy bullet journal, or vision board, but your daily routine doesn’t change. Tackle one small move (i.e., talk to one stranger every day) attached to a larger goal (i.e., better pitch performance). The WBENC Book Club tackled this idea with Amy Cuddy’s book Presence, which invokes “nudges” in our daily routine.
4. Fail. Then try again.
- If successful entrepreneurs know anything, they know about failure. I have one goal that I’ve had every year of my business—I have made progress, but it has been much harder to achieve than I originally anticipated. That will happen. Keep focused.
5. Believe in yourself.
- You started this business for a reason. When you have challenging days or you lose focus, turn to your strategic plan. Your strategic plan will show you the confidence, the gumption, and the creativity you have in you. You can become your own motivational coach.
Once you embrace this process as part of your business best practices, it becomes easier to assess goals across your life and develop a culture of success—for health, wellness, and financial planning. Setting achievable milestones working up to bigger goals, helps guide you on your path every morning.
Every step, every conversation, and every choice is a small move, and sometimes that is all you need to move yourself forward.
About Laura Berry, Founder & CEO, Cogberry Creative, LLC
Laura Berry is Founder and CEO of Cogberry Creative, a content strategy firm specializing in building process-oriented workflows for your marketing. Her team loves assessing an organization’s market impact, building brand equity, and developing powerful messaging that will engage your target audiences.