As a business strategist, I know the importance of having a strategy in business. But many people confuse business strategy, or having a strategic plan, with a business plan. But really, they’re not the same thing at all.
A business plan is something you write when you’re first starting out in your business. You create it to gain guidance and to even help find funding or finance for your business. This is especially helpful if you’re a brick and mortar business and need a loan for all the capital you need in the beginning.
Business plan vs. strategic plan.
Your business plan helps you to map out who you are, who’s running the company, how you’re planning to make money, who your target market is, what you’re selling and so much more.
A strategic plan is very different. It comes after the initial business plan and really gets into what your goals are as a business. It will help you get more clear about where you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, a year, 5 years. Once you identify your goals, you’ll start to break it down into actionable tasks with timelines and deadlines.
Your strategic plan is what you use to get from where you are now to where you want to go.
What a strategic plan can do for your business
The problem is that most business owners start a business and are really passionate about what they want to do. But then they go into reactive mode, rather than plan strategically for their business. They spend too much time answering emails, marketing, making phone calls. And when you do this, it’s like Groundhog Day…You’re doing the same thing over and over again, day in and day out.
This is not how you should feel as a business owner. But without goals and a plan, this is where you’re stuck.
Creating a strategic plan allows you to say here’s where I am, here’s where I want to go and you have a step by step plan for getting there. You start making progress and every step you take gets you closer to the goals you set for yourself and your business.
To put it another way, would you ever go somewhere you’ve never been without a map to guide you there?
Understand your business better
One of the biggest benefits to strategically mapping your business is that it forces you to ask a lot of questions so you have a better and deeper understanding of your business. Even as the business owner, you may not fully understand your business.
For example, you might have gone into business thinking you’d help a certain niche of people, but then you start implementing marketing strategies, figuring out how you’re going to get clients, deciding on your pricing structure going to be and nothing is working like you thought it would.
Creating a strategic plan will help you take a new look at your business. You’ll see that maybe this market you thought was your market may not be the best one for you and you might open your eyes to new markets you hadn’t considered before. Strategic planning can also help you determine the best team for your business and figure out a revenue plan that works for your goals.
The more you learn about your business through strategic planning, the more efficient it will run and the more profitable you will be. But that planning needs to go well beyond the scope of a traditional business plan.