Six Steps to Strategic Planning Success – Your Business Opportunities

Many statements in this post are similar to the instructions for how to study your strengths and weaknesses. The process to study your opportunities is almost the same. “To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths–the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths” – Peter Drucker The typical strategic planning SWOT analysis begins with your business strengths and weaknesses then moves on to discuss your business operation opportunities. This is where you will create a list of where you believe you can make the most progress in growing your business. Note that where you think your growth opportunity is may be different from where it performs best. An excellent way to identify new opportunities is to keep current on business news and events. Develop a daily habit of reading your local and national business news sources. Subscribe to business journals, blogs, and podcasts. Look back over the last twelve months and examine what events and elements are indicating growth trends. Your answers should be quick and obvious. Look at your business from the view of your customers. Consider these three areas to find opportunity:
  1. Marketing – What new marketing trends are working and what is antiquated? What marketing are your competitors buying?
  2. Management – Who in your organization is displaying potential leadership qualities? What group does this person lead? How can you reinforce those habits?
  3. Finances – Where can you invest to take advantage of growing trends?
Remember that each of these discoveries should be so obvious that they jump out at you and your team when the question is presented. Lawyers use the term “res-ipsa”. It means that the observation is obvious or “on its face” clear. No further analysis needed. Traditional marketing may be dead but it is important for you to prove it to yourself. Study your marketing efforts. Follow the dollars. How many dollars did you spend and how many dollars did you get back in productivity? Remember that marketing must be profitable. If you spend one dollar in marketing then you must get at least one dollar and one cent in return. Any marketing effort that loses money gets fired. What promising marketing efforts were underutilized? Your management team is your greatest and most costly asset. Who in your team is your future leader? Who do they lead?  How can you invest in that person to reinforce those positive attributes and seize that opportunity. Remember to be honest in your assessments. If you are running a for-profit business then a good way to identify great leaders is to examine where your profits are coming from. The bottom line in your operation is the financial outcome. Even non-profits cannot survive if they are losing money. Consider whether you are a good steward of your companies profits. Where did you miss opportunity to advance your cause? What opportunities did you seize that strengthened your business? What did you do to turn one dollar into two through financial strategy? A proper strategic plan is an excellent too ensure the longevity of your business. It all starts with an honest assessment of what you best.
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