Whether you are just starting out as an entrepreneur, or a seasoned business owner, you need to think about your strategic plan. Many flailing businesses simply failed to address or implement any type of strategy- for many people, it just feels too overwhelming.
However, your strategy is crucial to the success of your business, service, or personal brand. It will influence every decision that you make in the future of your business or brand. Your strategic plan will organize how you act now, and proactively decide how you will make decisions later.
Your Strategic Plan is Your Reason for Being
A great example of a strategic plan is Patagonia’s “Reason for Being”. On their website, Patagonia states that they exist to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”. Since Patagonia’s strategy is focused on aiding the environmental crisis, their decisions are centered around giving back to green causes and improving the outdoors.
Your strategy doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Break your dream down into achievable steps by designing your vision, mission, and values.
Your vision, mission, and values statements help you and your employees understand your why. Liz Heiman, the Chief Strategy Officer and Sales Leadership Coach of Alice Heiman LLC teaches that developing your why in a strategic way leads to sustained growth. Liz explained, “If you don’t feel passionate about why you’re doing something, neither will anybody else.”
Quick Guide to Your Vision, Mission, and Values
Your vision statement is the proactive plan that you set for the future, and how you plan to act. Think about what do you plan to do, and why it is important. Your vision is what your big dream will look like in the future.
For your vision statement, ask yourself:
- What is this organization (or what am I) going to be?
- How will this impact the world?
- What is this going to be when it grows up?
Your mission statement is your present purpose, and decides what you will do now. While the vision is about your dream, your mission statement is about the mechanics. An effective mission statement will define your optimal customers, employees, and segment of the market.
For your mission statement, ask yourself:
- What problem does my customer have?
- How do I solve their problem in a way that is unique, and in a way that people care about?
Your values are a set of principles that help reinforce your vision and mission statements. Your values impact who you hire, how you manage your business, and how you treat your customers.
Ask yourself: what drives the way we do things? Typically, each value will be a key word and a definition, such as Innovation: we believe in constantly striving to improve our processes.
Don’t Forget Your First Customer: The Employee
When you’re drafting your strategic plan, don’t forget that your Number One Customers are your employees. Your employees must readily remember, and more importantly, buy in, to your strategic plan.
The employee “buy in” to your brand is when your employees truly embrace the vision, mission, and values of your organization. If you already have employees in your organization, it helps to involve them in the process of developing the plan so they take ownership of the results. If you are newly hiring, then use your vision, mission, and values to guide your hiring choices.
And last but not least, keep your vision, mission, and values statements short, sweet, and to the point. Remember, if your employees cannot remember these guiding principles- they can’t buy in. If your employees don’t buy in, then neither will anyone else.
PS: The process of strategic planning is iterative. You have to keep thinking about it, and going back to the starting place. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect the first time (nothing ever is). Keep asking yourself: why am I doing this?
Shoutout to Liz Heiman for the inspiration behind this week’s blog post!