It’s no wonder business owners are confused about planning. No one knows what it means! Ask 10 business owners to write down 5 words they associate with business planning and you’ll probably get 40 different words! The only words you’ll get in common are words like “hard”, “challenging”, and “difficult.”
I had a discussion the other day with an attorney friend who asked me, “What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?” Now even I had to think about that one.
Here are some “classic” definitions of the word Strategy (as in Strategic Plan.)
- A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.
- The art and science of planning and marshaling resources for their most efficient and effective use. The term is derived from the Greek word for generalship or leading an army. See also tactics.
There seem to be two major trains of thought here: (1) having to do with the achievement of a goal and (2) having to do with military maneuvers. The thing that both of these definitions seem to have in common is that they are used to achieve a one-time result.
Here’s what I think:
If you’re spending a lot of time thinking up a strategy to achieve a specific result, and then using it only one time, it’s not much better than dumb luck! Here’s something more useful:
A Strategy is a repeated set of actions that produce a fairly predictable result!
Think about this.
According to my definition, if you have a set of actions that your business engages in on a day-to-day basis, consistently, repeatedly and regularly, you should be producing fairly predictable results. Now that’s what I call planning!
To give you a really concrete example, if a sales person makes 40 calls a day and, on average, gets 3 sales appointments and 1 sale closes for each 40 calls he or she makes, that wouldn’t this be a good sales strategy? Simply make 40 calls a day, and wait for the predictable result. Want more revenue? Increase the number of calls.
Now I don’t mean to tell you that this is easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. But think about it – how many of us run our businesses on the tracks of those who have come before us and shown us how things work in our industry.
Success leaves clues.
And some of these clues come in the form of predictability, consistency, patterns that you can identify and follow, and systems you can put in place to make sure that these consistent steps are followed. That’s what I call being strategic!
If you are interested in taking your business through a strategic planning cycle please CONTACT US for further information.