By Steven D. Handler, CPA, CMC, GGMA – Partner
Perhaps the greatest contribution to the success of a business is the presence of a well thought out, written Strategic Business Plan.
This article will be the first in a series of articles addressing this important business tool; to help guide you on the path of business success! Today we will briefly address the elements of a good plan. In future articles, we will discuss these elements in more detail.
An executive summary of your business or business idea is the best place to start. This should include a discussion of the company’s current mission, its vision for the future as well as a review of its history. Looking at the past helps plan for the future.
Apple started in a garage and tripped over many obstacles that nearly put them out of business. Ultimately, the company developed into one of the world’s most successful and admired companies. In the process of developing a successful business plan, Apple learned many valuable lessons from their history.
An assessment of your company is the next step. This is often referred to as a SWOT Analysis. SWOT is the acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Identifying these four components helps in planning. It sounds so simple:
Capitalize on our strengths.
Overcome our weaknesses.
Take advantage of our opportunities.
Eliminate or mitigate our threats.
Begin the planning process with your mission and vision. A mission statement defines your business today, while a vision statement defines your business’s desired future. Concisely articulating your mission and vision is not an easy process. A member of the clergy once told me he could write a two-hour sermon in 30 minutes, but it would take him hours to write a five-minute sermonette. Determining your mission and vision will help guide you as you begin the planning process.
The strategic plan and the management process of developing strategic business plan have three equally important phases: planning, implementation, and control. Before you begin the planning process, you need to get our arms around the business. Are you doing one plan or many? A company with many key lines of business will have an overall plan as well as a specific plan for each line of business.
Each of these plans will establish short and long-term goals. In future articles, we will discuss the goal setting process. After determining your goals, you will define how you will achieve these goals. What steps will be required, including capital requirements to accomplish your goals?
Next, you will determine how to implement your plans. We will discuss implementation in a future article.
The final element is control. Simply stated, you develop a budget (planning). Your team is informed how much they are allowed to spend on various items, as included in the budget (implementation). An income statement is prepared with actual expenses compared to the budget. You investigate and take corrective measures where necessary for significant deviations from your budget (control).
If you cannot wait to read the future articles in the series, we can help you right now with your strategic business plans. Please contact Steven D. Handler, CPA, CMC, CGMA – Partner, at [email protected] or 847-213-2107 to discuss how we can help.