Developing a Strategic Business Plan
Either in the start up process or when re-inventing one's business development, the design of a strategic business plan is an indispensable step towards a successful and viable business. Strategic planning involves setting up a sound and multifaceted plan or strategy to follow over a defined time period.It can involve all aspects of the business, or just a small part of it i.e. a selected department such as the marketing department.However, this does not mean that strategic business planning is only for large scale businesses since it can also benefit the small business, especially at start up, when the business sets its first goals and establishes itself in the business landscape.
Writing up a business plan is an important step of a starting business, since most lending bodies will not authorize loans in absense of a detailed business plan.Why is it important? Imagine sailing off for a voyage in the sea and not planning for resources or supplies that you might need. Developing a business plan is the only way to determine the allocation needs, personnel, utilities, marketing goals, outreach and all valuable aspects that make your business useful and unique in the sea of business. However, strategic planning is a process employed in any time period in a formal business administration, since it usually comprises of a long range planning process of a specific or broader managerial aspect, that will in a time-frame manner set the outline of the business' goals and image and ultimately form its policy.
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To be successful, a strategic business plan, either at start up or as a means of sustainment of a particular policy, should provide with day to day reference for the decision making in organization and management of the business and should provide a template against which all decisions can be evaluated (Goodstein et al ,1993).Ackoff's (1981) typology of planning, provides with several points to the understanding of the planning process, identifies as a key step in the business or organization's decision to adhere to the long term goals of strategic planning.These are
l Reactive planning ( planning through the rear view mirror)
l Inactive (going with the flow)
l Preactive or future planning
l Proactive or designing the future planning.
The most challenging and demanding type of planning is the proactive planning, which is based on the beleif that the organization or business itself, is responsible for shaping its future and thus can do differently i.e. to solve an anticipated problem.In order for an administration to sustain an applied strategic planning process in its midsts, it is anticipated that efforts are made to develop an openness for new ideas and allow for envisioning in serving the future. An area where envisioning is particularly useful is the mision development : who the business customers are, how will the business go about its tasks and the business raison d'etre.
Moreover, the strategic planning process must be strongly intercalated with the organizational culture of the business, the latter being the social context in and through which the business performs its work. This connection will facilitate the easy transmission to the workers and administrators of the mission of the business, the specific operational goals and the means to acheive them. After the decision and contexts of the strategic planning are made, several steps are indispensable in the successful inplementation of the process:
1st setting the stage for planning: understanding the way planning works, the values scan and mission formulation
2nd Setting strategic business directions : strategic business modeling such as performance auditing, gap analysis
3rd Implementing the strategic plan : integrating action plans, contigency planning and implementation.
In conclusion, a strategic business planning process is an expansion of the traditional business plan method towards the future developmentof the business, that formulates a strategy in anticipating change and maintaining its status in the business arena. Several steps are necessary in implementing a viable and successful strategy plan, most of which require serious documentation, market research and official design and control. In several examples in history, an inspired and well grounded strategy plan has been the means to ground-breaking enterpreneurships and immense success.
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Ackoff (1981) Creating the corporate future. New York : John Riley
Goodstein LD, Nolan T, Pfeiffer JW (1993) Applied strategic planning. Mc Graw Hill