Each day as you meet with your clients you challenge them about the future they want, and the one they’ll get if they continue as they are today. When was the last time you looked at your business to see if the path you’re on today matches what you want for your future? Do you have a strategic plan for your business? If you don’t how can do you expect to get what you want when you don’t have a clear vision or the benchmarks in place to gauge your progress?

A strategic plan doesn’t have to be complicated but it does need to provide the path for the actions you need to take. A strategic plan helps you to develop or clarify your core business statements: purpose of the business, vision, mission, and marketing message. It helps you to select three to five critical areas you need to keep or get on track in your business. From those critical areas you define the objectives or goals that absolutely must be met to get your mission. Finally you develop a dashboard that enables you to track and measure your weekly progress, adapt and adjust as merited, and to make better decisions because of the clarity you have about what you ultimately want from your business.

Your strategic plan will look very different and require different amounts of time to develop depending on the stage of the business you’re in, and whether or not you’ve ever developed a strategic plan before. A completely functional strategic plan can be developed in as little as a few hours to as many as 40 hours if you’re a really large group with a number of staff. Your core business statements help you, your staff, your clients, and your potential clients to all be clear about your business. Of course the level of that understanding will be the most detailed for you, but when you have that understanding it’s much easier for you to develop a culture that creates the work environment you want for your business and your clients.

There are lots of things you could try to focus on in your business, but there are only certain areas that will help you to achieve your mission. Your mission should be very specific and quantifiable. This specificity helps you to gain clarity about the areas that you absolutely must focus on to have your mission happen within the next year to year and a half.

Just like trying to focus on too many critical areas actually inhibits your progress the same is true about trying to focus on too many goals and objectives. That’s where your dashboard helps to simplify things down so they become manageable. Only the most important goals and objectives get on your dashboard. A new goal or objective can’t be added to your dashboard unless you have completed an existing goal or objective, or you’ve obtained new information that requires adaptation of a current goal or objective. Whether you’re a solo professional or a group a strategic plan helps you to gain the clarity and focus you need to make the best decision so you stay on track and make the progress you need to make.

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