How to Prepare for Strategy Planning
It’s always important to set long term vision, goals, and strategies to get there. But after the past year, business as we know has shifted. You’ve likely been hustling to keep things going, pivot as needed, and go the extra mile to keep your customers happy this year. But, it’s important to take a step back, and now more than ever – to revisit your business long term vision, goals, and strategies. This article gives you valuable tips and ideas to make time and space for Strategy Planning, step out of the weeds and work ON your business vs. just working IN it.
Strategy Planning is Critical
It’s important for Entrepreneurs have to understand every aspect of their business. Often, that means immersing yourself IN the business and each activity that the business requires. However, to truly lead the business to success, you have to know when to step back and when to delegate. Most importantly, as the leader in the business, you must be the one to set the vision and the strategy. That means, you must take time to work ON your business, not just IN it
Now layer in a year of pivots, changes, and many, many challenges. This was no ordinary year and it likely has shifted your business in either it’s vision or the path to achieve that vision. Now is the time for Strategy Planning! It’s time to asses where you have been and where you are now. Time to reassess where you are going and reorient your business.
If you have never tackled Strategy Planning, here are the primary things that you want to accomplish for your business:
- Ensure you have a vision – what’s your purpose, where is your business going?
- Set goals and objectives to get there – set the destination
- Identify strategies that will meet those goals and objectives – map out how you will reach the destination
Schedule Time for Strategy Planning
This might seem obvious, but the very first thing you need to do when Strategy Planning is to schedule it in advance on your calendar. Generally, you will want 2-5 days dedicated for this depending on the complexity involved and the number of individuals that need to participate. If it is just you, then perhaps you need 2 days, the first for drafting everything and the second for reviewing and confirming. If you have multiple team members that will be collaborating with you, then you may need more time. Again, this will be determined on the complexity.
Block the time on your calendar for the strategy planning AND preparatory work that you need to do (see below for more on preparing in advance).
Determine who needs to be there and include them on the calendar invite so that they have it blocked on their calendar as well. Schedule any pre-meetings with these or other individuals so that you can pull together the right information ahead.
Plan out the objectives and deliverables for the time scheduled and then make an agenda that will allow you to achieve them.
FIind the Right Space
The next important factor in having a productive and successful Strategy Planning day, is do it in the right environment – the right space! This is critical to ensure that you are free from distractions and everyday business activities that may deter you from the job at hand.
Let’s start with what you don’t want. You don’t want to go to a coffee house with tons of people or a park where people are playing ball. An open office space with other conversations is also not a good idea. Nor is your house with TV, pets, kitchen, kids, or other distractions. Finally, if your business office does not have a conference room separate of your desk where you can hide out and not be bothered, then it probably is not the best place either.
What you DO want. The right space is typically one that is quiet, secluded, and large enough to fit the people and the tools needed. A great option for eliminating all distractions is to rent a co-working office space. There are co-working spaces in every city these days and they are usually very flexible for renting out on an as-needed basis. You can request a small office or large conference room. And you can reserve it for 1 day or 2 weeks, depending on your needs. And it can be reserved every quarter or as often as you need to review Strategy for your business.
Finally, with the right space, make sure you have the right supplies. Paper, pens, dry-erase boards, projection screens, post-its, and other needs to brainstorm, discuss, present, or collaborate.
Prepare in Advance
You’ve recognized the need for Strategy Planning and blocked time on your calendar. In order to make that precious time as productive as possible, you will need to done some prep work. Preparing for planning out your business strategy means having all possible relevant information available at your fingertips. Think through what that could be for your business and then make a list with responsible parties next to each item.
Here is a list of things that you may need to review and/or have prepared prior to the planning day(s). Note, there may be other things that are on your list so be thorough!
- Financial data (sales units, dollars, profit, growth vs. prior periods etc.)
- Other sales metrics (retail sales metrics, incremental sales, growth, frequency, distribution, etc.)
- Marketing activity results
- Website metrics (traffic, clicks, etc.)
- Social media metrics
- Customer feedback and reviews
- Competitive review
- Industry/category review
All of this information should be reviewed prior to the planning session and distilled down into insightful and actionable bites of data. The planning session is NOT the time to review any of this information for the first time. So, wherever possible, delegate the research and review to team members so that no single person is tasked with everything.
Having this information ready to present in a conference room, such as one rented at a Co-working space, will make for the most productive session.
Communicate the Strategy Planning Output
Coming out of a strategy planning session, you are likely to have new energy and excitement, focus and drive. Be sure that you cascade the Vision, Objectives, and Strategy to all stakeholders in turn. Everyone touched by your business in any shape or form should be made aware of where your business is heading and how you will take them on a journey with it.
Start with the key team members that drive your business. Then begin to cascade the business strategy to relevant affiliates and partners. Finally, and most importantly, communicate to your CUSTOMERS exactly how you are planning to deliver them value based on this new Vision and strategies.
Start Planning Your Session at a Co-Working Space Today
With more and more businesses looking to rent out office space these days, co-working office and conference room space can go fast. Be sure to book your days right away in advance! If you are in the Miami, FL area, check out Starthub with rooms of various sizes to meet your needs. Even if you are not in the area, a trip to Miami for you and your team, could be just the motivation that you need for your business!
Putting Strategy into Action
Check out these next articles to put your strategy into action!