Read this section to understand the process a business would use to develop and implement a strategic plan.
Developing a Strategic Plan
Coming up with an idea – say, starting a note-taking business – is a good start, but it's only a start. Planning for it is a step forward. Planning begins at the highest level and works its way down through the organization. Step one is usually called strategic planning, which is the process of establishing an overall course of action. To begin this process, you should ask yourself a couple of very basic questions: Why, for example, does the organization exist? What value does it create? Sam Walton posed these questions in the process of founding Wal-Mart: his new chain of stores would exist to offer customers the lowest prices with the best possible service.
After you've identified the purpose of your company, you're ready to take the remaining steps in the strategic-planning process:
- Write a mission statement that tells customers, employees, and others why your organization exists.
- Identify core values or beliefs that will guide the behavior of members of the organization.
- Assess the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Establish goals and objectives, or performance targets, to direct all the activities that you'll perform to achieve your mission.
- Develop and implement tactical and operational plans to achieve goals and objectives.
In the next few sections, we'll examine these components of the strategic-planning process.