- July 4, 2016
- Posted by: Dr Advocate Milton
- Category: Strategic Development
A strategic plan is a roadmap to grow your business. To help you succeed, use this proven strategic plan template, and the information below details the 13 key sections you must include in your strategic plan.
Section 1: Executive Summary
The Executive Summary of your strategic plan should be completed last, and this section merely summarizes each of the other sections of your plan.
The Executive Summary is important since it will help other key constituents, such as employees, advisors, and investors, quickly understand and support your plan.
Section 2: Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a brief description of your business. Your elevator pitch is included in your strategic plan since it’s key to your business’ success, and often times should be updated annually. Here’s why it’s important: if your employees can’t clearly and concisely articulate your business to others, you inevitably miss out on tons of sales and other opportunities.
Section 3: Company Mission Statement
Your company mission statement explains what your business is trying to achieve. While it may seem unimportant, it’s not. You see, for internal decision-making, your mission statement guides employees to make the right decisions; decisions that are in line with helping the company achieve its mission. For external parties, such as investors, partners, and customers, your mission can inspire them to take the actions you want.
Section 4: SWOT
The reason to include a SWOT analysis (analysis of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) in your Strategic Plan is to help you determine the best opportunities to pursue to achieve your growth goals. It also helps you identify which strengths you must develop in the near future to improve your company.
Section 5: Goals
Setting and achieving goals is the hallmark of successful companies and is a critical element of your strategic plan.
They key is to first identify your 5 year or long-term goals. Next, identify your one-year goals; that is, what you must achieve in the next year for it to be successful and to put your company on the right trajectory to achieving your 5 year goals.
Then work backwards two more times to determine your goals for the next quarter and the next month. Ideally you update you strategic plan monthly to modify this section.
Section 6: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Great businesses understand their metrics and KPIs. By tracking your KPIs, you know exactly how your business is performing and can adjust as needed.
For example, a basic KPI such as Total Sales is critical for understanding if the company is performing well. “Underlying” KPIs are equally as important. For example, if sales are affected by 1) number of visitors to your website, 2) number of visitors who complete a contact form, 3) number of proposals you issue to these leads, and 4) the proposal closing ratio, then each of these KPIs should be tracked. Then, if for instance, the number of visitors to your website decreased, you would know and fix this immediately, rather then waiting until sales plummet later.
So, it’s critical to identify the KPIs you will track in your business and list them in this section of your strategic plan.
Section 7: Target Customers
In this section of your strategic plan, you will identify the wants and needs of each of your target customer groups. This is important in focusing your marketing efforts and getting a higher return on investment on your advertising expenditures. This is because the more you can “speak” directly to your target customer wants and needs in your marketing, the better you will attract them.
Section 8: Industry Analysis
Your industry analysis doesn’t have to be a comprehensive report on what’s going on in your market. However, you should conduct an analysis to ensure the market size is growing (if not, you might want to diversify), and to help identify new opportunities for growth.
Section 9: Competitive Analysis & Advantage
Similarly to your industry analysis, your competitive analysis doesn’t have to be a thorough report listing every detail about every competitor. Rather, in addition to defining who your key competitors are, you should list their strengths & weaknesses.
Most importantly, use this analysis to determine your current competitive advantages and ways to develop additional advantages.
Section 10: Marketing Plan
In addition to your strategic plan, I recommend you develop a comprehensive marketing plan describing how you will attract prospects, convert them to paying customers and maximize your lifetime customer value.
Include a summary of your marketing plan in your strategic plan.
Section 11: Team
The team section of your strategic plan ensures you have the human resources to execute on the opportunities you’ve identified and to achieve the goals you established in section 5 of your plan.
Here you should list your current team members and identify the types of people you need to hire in the next year to achieve your goals.
Section 12: Operations Plan
Your operations plan helps you transform your goals and opportunities into reality. In this section of your plan, you will identify each of the individual projects that comprise your larger goals and how these projects will be completed. Finally, you’ll map out each of your initiatives, ideally in a Gantt chart, so you know when each project will start and who will lead them.
Section 13: Financial Projections
The final section of your strategic plan is your financial projections. Your financial projections help in multiple ways. First, you can use a financial model to assess the potential results for each opportunity you consider pursuing.
Also, once you determine the opportunities you will pursue, your financial projections will map out the goals. For example, you’ll know exactly how many new customers you must attract in the next month, and at what price point, to achieve next month’s goal.
You should develop your complete strategic plan each year, and then update it monthly as actual results come in and you gain more clarity and intelligence. While you will rarely achieve the precise goals established in your strategic plan, scores of research show that you’ll come much closer to them versus if you didn’t plan at all. So, develop your strategic plan today, and achieve the goals you desire.