How to Fail Proof Your Business Through Strategic Planning

Knowing your destination is a great start. But unless you have a roadmap to get there, you’re not likely to arrive. Yet that’s the mistake some businesses make when they create a business plan. They have a great strategy but forget to outline what it takes to achieve it. So they get lost along the way. Keep your strategic planning on course by first defining what your business will need on the journey to your final stop.

I Should Have Taken a Left at Albuquerque

There are a number of reasons why strategic plans can take a wrong turn. The Harvard Business Review suggests it might be you’re running into these two roadblocks:

Assuming too much – This mistake assumes that the strategy is so logical that people will just figure it out on their own. The problem with this approach is that your staff may not have the skills or tools to implement it. For example, say your strategy is to increase traffic to your website using social media. What if no one knows how to boost a post using paid advertising? Part of the plan needs to account for these deficiencies and plan around them. Maybe you outsource the tactic or provide in house training so a staff member can assume the duty.

Micromanaging – This wrong turn takes the opposite approach. Rather than providing no direction, the plan provides too much. The owner outlines a detailed step-by-step process telling everyone what they should do. The result is that your staff gets bogged down and eventually gives up. Micromanaging can block the innovation that occurs when you allow employees to learn from their mistakes.

Packing the Right Gear

Before starting on your strategic journey, it’s important to make sure you have the right business gear. Think about what capabilities you’ll need to achieve your goal and who is on point to make it happen. Taking this additional step in the planning process ensures that you have the resources you need to be successful.

Start by asking yourself these questions:
What roadblocks have been standing in the way? – Think about why you haven’t already achieved this goal. Focus on internal factors that you can control. For example, maybe your process was so cumbersome that things never got done. Identifying these factors helps you take pre-emptive action steps to clear the way for success. In this case, “lean up” your process first.

How will you know when you’ve arrived? – Think about how you will measure success. The answer to that question may uncover gaps. For example, you might use sales to determine whether an email campaign is effective. But it you don’t have a way to connect the email with the sale, you can’t measure success. So your planning process needs to build in that capability and establish accountability to make it happen.

Will you stop for directions? – Sometimes you have to take a detour on your route to success. That’s when it’s important to collaborate with your team members. How will you share information about what’s working and what’s not? Do you need a tool like Trello that lets people check status and share ideas? You’ll want to adjust quickly and setting up communication channels makes that easier.

Help to fail-proof your business plan by first defining what capabilities you’re missing. Packing the right business gear will help to ensure your strategic journey takes you to the destination you’ve planned.

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