Don't Get Lost at Sea: The Importance of Strategic Planning

March 13, 2024

By Sascha Mansson, Business Strategy Consultant and EFund Expert Network provider

Imagine you are traveling in a rudderless boat, allowing the waves to dictate your direction. You have an idea of where you would like to land, however the likelihood of that happening is slim.

This is how it can feel running a business without a plan. You know you are heading somewhere; however, will it be your desired place? I have been on that rudderless boat and felt like it was sinking as well – a place I do not recommend!

Developing a strategic plan for your business is like building a rudder for your boat. It allows you to map out your route and adjust your course as different storms (or opportunities, as I prefer to call them) arise.

Pull yourself out of the day-to-day

Taking a pause from the day-to-day operations of business to create a clear, focused vision and plan allows yourself and other people in your organization to see the desired direction and develop an understanding of how they play a role in keeping business on-track. Not only does a plan help provide clarity, but it can also assist in driving accountability amongst team members.

However, this pause to develop a plan is not a one and done type of situation. As you are driving the boat, you will encounter different weather conditions, you may approach rocks under the water you have to divert from, or you may identify a more desirable route to get to your destination. So too it is with business. Taking regular designed times to pull yourself out of the day-to-day, allows you to reflect on the past, identify lessons learned, use data to develop and capture future opportunities, and to continually push your business to evolve.

Understand your why to develop a long-term target

As you begin to develop your strategic plan, establishing your business mission, vision, and long- term target is essential. Understanding the reason and the passion behind your business helps to create the vision and long-term target of where you want your business to go. Being able to speak to this allows others(customers, clients, and employees) to understand your purpose and be able to fully engage and work with your business.

Define short-term goals and identify strategies to reach them

Equally as important, is to then use your long-term target to establish shorter-term goals and identify the strategies to achieve each goal. Then using regular designed times for planning purposes, review the goals and strategies to ensure your business is on track. Also, use that time to identify the next set of priorities and strategies to focus on that align with your goals. Continual planning creates the space to purposefully seek opportunities, adjust to varying economic times, and elevate yourself and business.

Build, document, and identify

If you are a solo-entrepreneur or own a large organization, I encourage you to build that rudder for your boat, document where you want to go, and identify the route you are going to take to get there. It’s a much healthier place to be than in the rudderless boat that is sinking.

For resources or assistance on strategic planning, contact your Entrepreneur Fund advisor, your local SBDC, or reach out to a Strategy Consultant. We are all here to support you in your journey and to help you get what you want out of your business.

Be Strategic: Grow Your Business

EFund provides an immersive and interactive six-week course focused on strategic planning. The Be Strategic course provides a unique opportunity for local, non-competing businesses to work alongside one another to create a strategic business plan for growth, make meaningful connections, and improve their business within a supportive group setting.

Participants of the education program work through various business topics, including defining their mission, vision, and core values, identifying trends in their industry, creating a marketing plan, and refining their 10-year target. By the end of the course, each business owner walks away with a strategic plan to help them achieve their growth goals.

About the Author

Sascha Mansson is a Business Strategy Consultant and a trusted EFund Expert Network provider. She works with regional businesses facilitating leadership teams through strategic planning and execution, and has formed multiple Strategic Mastermind groups, which focus on business and personal growth in a peer group setting. She also facilitates strategic planning sessions during EFund’s Be Strategic course.

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