How to Create a Strategic Business Plan

A strategic business plan is a step-by-step guide a business puts in writing to achieve its business goals and objectives. The five primary elements of the plan are the company vision, mission statement, critical success factors, strategies and actions for objectives, and a prioritized implementation timeline.

1. Write down the business vision. This is a statement that includes the purpose, goals and values of the business. It’s typically a one- to two-sentence statement. For example, a vision for a medical center may be “Med XYZ will be a recognized leader in health care quality.”

2. Write the mission statement for the business. This is a brief, two- to three-sentence description of the business, including what type of business it is and how you plan to meet the needs of your target market by offering the products or services of your business. For example, a mission statement for a restaurant may be “to ensure that each patron receives prompt and professional service by serving nutritional and well-prepared meals at affordable prices.”

3. List the critical success factors the business must meet to achieve its vision and mission. Critical success factors can vary from business to business, but some examples include achieving credibility in the industry; a business financial plan that ensures a positive cash flow and sufficient revenue to grow the business; conducting market research to meet customers’ needs and desires; and a process for documenting company policies and procedures for training employees.

4. Compile the business strategies. The strategies of the business are which actions need to be taken and who in the business is responsible for completing the action. Strategies typically include marketing and advertising actions as well. While a strategy may be a general action, a list of steps required to complete the action is also listed. For example, a marketing strategy may be to increase the number of email subscribers on the company list to 5,000 subscribers in three months. The task may be assigned to the marketing manager, and the specific steps may include a list of ways the marketing manager can drive targeted traffic to the website and encourage visitors to subscribe.

5. Prioritize the timeline. A business plan typically covers a one-year period. Since you cannot implement everything at once, you have to prioritize your list of actions. Also, some tasks on the list may need to be completed before others can be accomplished. In a startup business, if launching a company website is on the task list, this needs to be done before the marketing manager can complete the tasks necessary to drive targeted traffic to the site to increase the number of subscribers on the company's e-mail list.

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