Framework for Strategic Planning 101
Growing a business with unlimited capital is certainly easier than growing a business without it. During times when cash and resources are running their course, reaching your business goals comes down to making assertive decisions.
If this is your mindset today, you’ve reached a place where you can put your fears to rest and activate your strategic brain to focus on what your business needs today in order to secure a win.
The Fascinating Origin Of The Word Strategy
The word “strategy” is derived from the Greek word “stratçgos”; stratus (meaning army) and “ago” (meaning leading/moving).
A strategy is a general plan to achieve one or more long-term or overall goals under conditions of uncertainty.
The term came into use in the 6th century C.E. in East Roman terminology, and was translated into Western vernacular languages only in the 18th century.
From then until the 20th century, the word “strategy” came to denote “a comprehensive way to try to pursue political ends, including the threat or actual use of force, in a dialectic of wills” in a military conflict, in which both adversaries interact.
Not every decision means going to war. However, in business (and in life too), when we face a critical season, we can’t just close our eyes and go with the flow.
Critical times call for precision. Each move can be a deal-breaker. This is when a strategic plan is needed.
The Initial Assessment: What Are Your Goals?
Taking emotions out of this equation, navigate the moment when you sat down to write down your goals.
I used to tell my paralegals, back in my other life when I was a litigation attorney, that they should always set up realistic and worst-case scenario goals but to calculate the plan to achieve the best-case scenario.
Our clients had access to the worst-case, but internally we had the best-case.
This helped us tremendously to have conversations about expectations from day 1.
According to the best research, less than 3 percent of Americans have written goals, and less than 1 percent review and rewrite their goals on a daily basis.
Do you have your 2020 goals written? Don’t feel bad if you don’t.
One of my favorite mentors, real estate expert, and international speaker with Rich Dad and Poor Dad and CEO of The Real Estate Business School in Texas, Wayne Morgan, says that there are three groups of people in the world.
Those who make things happen
Those who watch things happen
And those who ask “what happened?”
When it comes to goal setting AND achievement, there are 3 types of people in the world.
Those who set goals and achieve them. This is the group that MAKES THINGS HAPPEN.
Those who set goals and NEVER achieve them. This is the group that WATCHES THINGS HAPPEN.
Those who never set goals and wander around aimlessly, rudderless and acting randomly, never achieving much at all. This is the group that asks “WHAT HAPPENED?”
GOAL #1 is to stay out of group #3!
Now that you’re in need of a tight and strategic plan, you’ll write down your goals. And if you are thinking about it from a positive perspective, even if you wrote them down before, you would have still needed to do this again!
These questions can help you examine your goals.
- What was your revenue goal for 2020?
- Which projects did you want to complete in 2020?
- How many clients did you forecast for 2020?
- What was your marketing budget?
- Did you have partnerships lined up for 2020?
- Did you have a plan to reach your 2020 revenue goal?
- As you look back, did you set up unrealistic goals?
The Dig Deeper Phase: Is This Worth The Fight?
I’m assuming that you’re a leader. You certainly have a vision of how to make things right. You’re not a quitter.
Let’s dig deeper, which means, let’s put the critical thinking into action.
The greatest military leaders in ancient times, including Julius Caesar, Sun Tzu, Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Attila the Hun, Gaius Marius, and others, had one important thing in common: they were all superior critical thinkers.
They applied their critical thinking skills of analysis, interpretation, inference, and evaluation to strategic, operational, and tactical problems of all kinds.
The same can be said about the great military minds today.
Effective leadership at every level is as much about thinking as it is about motivating and following through. Plans must be devised and tested, adaptions made as conditions change, assumptions tested, and contingencies accounted for. To lead anything well is to solve complex ill-structured, real-time, problems and to make sound, informed decisions.
10 Key Questions Leaders Use To Trigger Critical Thinking In The Groups They Lead
- How is this situation like prior situations?
- How is this situation NOT like prior situations?
- What happens if we take this element out of the equation?
- What happens if we insert this factor into the equation?
- How is the problem changing over time?
- How can I adjust and adapt to those changes?
- Why are standard approaches consistently failing?
- How can I drive the chances to achieve advantage?
- Why are my people not seeing the complexity?
- Am I missing anything that other leaders are seeing?
If the military theme doesn’t resonate with you, I suggest you take a more soul-based approach. That’s totally fine. Connect with your inner voice to then activate your critical thinking. And of course, you can tune into your intuition as well.
The unmissable question you’ll need to ask is: what is the price that will make this fight worth it for you?
We’re not here to end this battle with you losing. We just need to rewrite your expectations and set up the goals so we can win.
The Shift: Setting Up Business Goals To Win
I can tell you from experience, calling the shots, when you’re the only one facing consequences if things go wrong is very easy. What’s not easy is when you are the one calling the shots and many lives are depending on your abilities to lead.
You wish you didn’t have to be that person. But… you are.
I will never forget the day when I announced to my employees that our law firm was going to shut down. This moment still brings me to tears. It was hard. Not only seeing my personal dreams melting, but it felt very heavy on my shoulders.
What did I do wrong? Where did I fail? Did I betray their trust? What did I miss? …
Challenging times put your leadership skills into the test.
What Is A Strategic Goal?
Strategic goals are visions for your business that have quantifiable or qualitative results.
You can’t grow what you can’t measure.
Strategic Goals Examples
Revenue stream goals
Depending on your business, you might have different products or services. It’s time to find out which ones are doing very well and which ones are not.
You can analyze your revenue stream by the amount of revenue that they each bring, profit they render, or the number of resources they demand from your business.
For example, if you’re limited to selling a product because you don’t have the cost to produce them, you could say “I need more money”, launching a new revenue stream using the resources that you have could be a strategic goal.
Experts say “your network is your net worth” and that’s for a reason.
Note: your brand name might have accumulated equity. It’s worth exploring the possibility of leveraging your brand in certain segments.
Technology has accelerated networking, reduced the degree of separation between contacts, amplified our global playing field, and redefined the job prospecting process.
Think about who do you know today, who could help you share your mission?
Another area worth exploring is customer segments. If you’ve been selling to consumers, perhaps it’s time to consider if selling to other businesses will benefit more.
Financial strategy goals
Revenue is not profit. Profit does not equal good cash flow. Cash flow is king.
You can’t just look at your profit and loss statement (P&L) and get a grip on your cash flow. Many other financial figures feed into factoring your cash flow, including accounts receivable, inventory, accounts payable, capital expenditures, and taxation.
Effective cash-flow management requires a laser focus on each of these drivers of cash, in addition to your profit or loss.
I recommend business owners get very granular on their cash flow and track their revenue and expenses daily.
If you are running an e-commerce business, your system will give you a report on daily sales and will also compare it with the prior year. This should be a document that you see at least 3 times a day.
Strategic marketing goals
When it comes to crafting a marketing plan, what will turn your marketing plan into a strategic one will be the ability to translate each activity into revenue.
Marketers get very uncomfortable when they are put in this position. But as a business owner, you must demand strategic moves from your marketing team.
Your marketing campaigns will be strategic, meaning:
- You’re targeting a market after doing research and identifying the opportunity. Less testing, please!
- You’ll reduce the number of marketing channels to focus based on what performs best.
- You’ll have access to marketing and sales key performance indicators (KPIs) with clear benchmarks to meet daily.
As a leader, anticipation is key.
Be prepared to deal with updates in your IT infrastructure, since most of your sales transactions will require digital tools.
Tips for setting up strategic goals:
- Define what the reality is today.
- Know your numbers.
- Call a group of trusted advisors to brainstorm.
- Pick the path of less resistance (where can I get the most opportunity, using the least amount of resources).
- Get very granular with your marketing plan. You can’t grow what you can’t measure. Each goal should have its own KPIs (key performance indicators)
- Define benchmarks.
- Identify how to measure success.
The W.W.W.: What, Who, and When
So you’re calling the shots. You know what you have, what you don’t have, and you’re determined to win.
You have your worst-case and best-case.
It’s time to activate your army (the who) and bring one thing to your business: CASH. The when? ASAP! That’s the WWW!
- The what
- The who
- The when
Business strategists are like first responders. I know that when my clients call is because they have urgency. Especially during unexpected times.
Online Sales Strategy
Ever wonder how many people use the internet? Almost 4.57 billion people were active internet users as of July 2020, encompassing 59 percent of the global population.
I don’t think I need to convince you about how your potential users are searching online as part of their everyday life.
No one could have predicted the environment we’re currently living and working in as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Digital channels, including social media channels, are critical to boosting your sales online. The key is to track and measure in order to modify or amplify. If you can’t do it with a digital channel, then that activity won’t be considered strategic.
Examples of strategic digital marketing activities:
- Activating paid social channels using custom audience features and retargeting features. During times when resources are limited, we don’t recommend doing too much testing in paid digital outlets. Mistakes can be costly. I’ve campaigned at $1,500 PER CLICK. You certainly want to stay away from “gambling with paid traffic”.
- Focus on lead generation. Leads are the heart of sales. Your website should be optimized for leads, not for traffic, at this point. If you’ve been doing SEO marketing, it’s time to add CRO tactics (conversion rates optimization).
- If you want to drive sales online, your website must pass the Google test. How can people buy from you if they can’t find you?
- Build a niche audience. Now more than ever you want a core group of people. A circle of trust that can share your products or services with their friends.
- Direct sales strategies, online. Direct selling is also known as direct response marketing. Direct response requires little or no time waiting to see measurable results.
There are countless digital marketing strategies available. You will be surprised by how quickly they can impact your bottom line.
Checklist of Marketing Strategies That Can Help Generate Both, Awareness and Conversions
Reverse Engineer Your Profit Goal
Since you want to generate sales, your focus should be on generating leads first.
Try to come up with as much data about your customers as possible. Again, knowing your numbers is a big part of working, not just smarter, but strategically.
Where do most of your best clients come from? Can you simply find more like them?
I follow this model to reverse engineer the revenue and profit goal.
If you don’t have enough leads, there are two possible reasons:
Reason 1: you have a visibility problem
Digital visibility is very easy to calculate. Check your website traffic, the number of monthly users, and you’ll know how many people are interested in your products or services.
If your business is new, then digital visibility relies on the size of your network. Your email list, your warm connections, as well as their network.
Reason 2: you have a conversion problem
If you have enough people looking at your website but sales are not happening, you have a conversion problem. Very often there is a crack in your website or a plugin that is making Google block your website and that’s why people can’t find you.
Make sure that your website is in good health before you decide to go out there to generate leads.
Don’t Forget Existing Customers
Don’t forget to consider your customer base. They can provide your best word of mouth marketing.
At times when cash is coming to the end, having an unpaid salesforce is GOLD.
What can you do to get your existing customers putting a good word for you? The best companies in the world have the best loyalty programs and there’s a reason for it.
Become a Great Negotiator
As an attorney, I tell my clients to watch out for the fine print. There’s a good chance that now that you’re reviewing your business from a 30 feet distance, you will find commitments that no longer serve your business.
Seek for relief. If you can’t pay, don’t stress out.
You can always negotiate with the parties involved and find creative ways to meet your obligations.
Also, in case you are the business obligated to fulfill products or services and you need to restructure your commitment, just know that you can.
No business template has ever been written in stone. Things can happen. As long as you stay true to your vision, you’ll find a way to get your business off the ground.
My office is open to help business owners put their fears to rest. Let us take a look at your landscape to see what strategies we are able to propose. It costs you nothing.
At Marketing For Greatness, I lead the strategy sessions with clients in order to help them both launch and pivot. Having a strategy-minded consultant on your team is worth the investment.
At this point, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Let’s chat.