Get Started With Strategic Planning
Strategy - the planned marshaling of resources to have specific effect and accomplish specific objectives, is the keystone of every financially successful business.
If you aren't using strategies for your service business, you're likely to be simply taking random and unfocused actions that leave your business floundering. It's even more likely that your efforts and energies will be spent "fighting fires" and desperately attempting to maintain equilibrium rather than growing the business.
Without a strategy guiding you, you've got no strategic objectives, no plan to achieve them, and you're not clear what actions to take. Without strategic plans, there's no possibility to ever achieve the momentum you need to attain your objectives. Your only "chance" of success is accidental at best.
Let's say you're new to the idea of using strategies for your service business, and you want to understand how to get started. Here's a few ideas about that.
1) Put aside a few hours when you can plan.
Most owners of service businesses find their days consumed with delivering service. It is a challenge to carve out time to work out a strategy. It is critical though that you make this a priority. You may fret that it's a "waste of time", but the truth is that you likely waste much of your time now, because you do not have a strategy in place. Without a strategy, your business cannot approach its true potential. You aren't taking regular action to achieve something specific. Your time and efforts are wasted on non-productive activities. Taking time to plan will save you time in the end and ensure that your time is spent on those activities that will achieve your strategic objectives.
2) Have a clear and quantifiable strategic objective.
Put your objective down in numerical specifics. Make it quantifiable, "I aim to have X number of new clients." or "I intend to have X amount of new revenue.". You must be explicit, so that you recognize when you've reached your objective. This is where the quiet planning time can be so productive. With quiet, it's easier to think big and go for what you really want. Your goal must motivate you and be reason enough to have you taking consistent, focused, targeted action.
3) Once the objective is clear, create the strategy to get it.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you devise a strategy.
* What revenue-generating actions will become priority activities for you?
* What new products or services could increase revenue?
* How does your business need to change to meet the current market?
* What activities must you eliminate or de-emphasize?
* What have you been failing to do that is critical to success in this objective?
* What have you been avoiding that could bring you results?
* What tactics (series of actions that comprise one part of a strategy) will you pursue to achieve your strategy?
4) Generate all the tactics you can think of.
For example, if your strategic goal is, "to increase revenue by X", your tactics might be:
* "Add new services."
* "Execute marketing plan."
* "Start joint ventures."
* "Eliminate low-profit services."
Be complete. A strategy is a "living document" and you can pare this down to practical size later. Look over your tactics, and ensure that they all contribute to the achieving your strategic objective. Focus and target precisely.
5) For each tactic, list all the action steps required to execute that tactic.
Break each of these down into the smallest steps possible such as, "Call X.". The smaller the steps, the easier they are to execute, and the more you will have a feeling of progress and momentum. What you want is to have these action steps broken down into their smallest possible units so that you can squeeze one in between calls or when you have a few minutes free. This makes it possible for you to take action daily and feel consistent forward motion on your strategy.
6) As you progress, keep updating and revising the details of your strategy.
Cross off completed items and add new tactics and action steps as needed. Add new tactics. Revisit your objectives and add to them as you see the necessity. Use your strategy as a living document and consistently consult it.
Every owner of a service business needs to get into the habit of strategic planning and working from a strategy to ensure the financial success of the business. If you haven't been doing this - give it a try. You'll wonder why you haven't been doing this all along.
By Suzi Elton
Photography by Suhendri Utet
Suzi Elton provides business writing that attracts targeted prospects to your service business and converts them into clients for you. She is a Robert Middleton Certified Action Plan Marketing Coach, as well as a professional writer. Her website offers a free series of 8 assessments you can use to analyze your own site. To learn about her Robert Middleton style Web Site Tool Kit Writing Package, go to http://www.wowfactorwriting.com/services/web-site-tool-kit-package/