When it comes to business planning, you have two main options – create a business plan or create a strategic plan. The two are similar in some ways, but there are distinct differences between the two as well. In this article, we’ll look at the definition of both, how they differ from one another and what you should consider when deciding which kind of business plan to create.
Understanding the differences
Often confused as one and the same, business plans (sometimes called strategic plans) are comprehensive documents that lay out your company’s goals in great detail. A strategic plan outlines which objectives need to be accomplished within each department or team, identifies key performance indicators for each area of responsibility, then sets deadlines for when those tasks should be completed. A separate document called an operations manual can give detailed instructions about how to achieve these goals on a day-to-day basis. Each part serves a different purpose; each builds upon and informs the other. When both plans are clearly defined, you have more incentive to reach them—and more incentive for investors to get involved with your organization. This post is meant to highlight both their similarities and differences in order to better inform readers who may be unsure what exactly goes into writing either kind of plan! Hopefully you find it useful!
Business Plan Structure
There are different formats for writing business plans, but they all follow an essentially similar outline. A typical format has three sections: an executive summary, a description of your company’s current situation, and a description of how you intend to achieve your goals. In addition to these sections, there may be others tailored to your industry, such as if you’re applying for startup capital. The first section should set out your vision and why you’re pursuing it in detail; it should also have any accompanying charts or graphs that help make your case. The second section sets out what problems need to be solved, outlines potential risks involved with implementing solutions, and details what tasks need to be completed on your path to success.
A plan is typically seen as a guide to accomplishing some form of goal. No matter how big or small, plans usually cover everything from who’s involved in executing it to what happens if it’s not followed, complete with metrics for success. However, there are many different kinds of plans; they can be just as varied as they are numerous.
Creating Your Strategic Plan
The first thing you need to do when creating your strategic plan is determine what sort of company you want to run. Is it a traditional brick-and-mortar store with customers coming in every day? Is it an online retailer that ships its products to consumers? Or do you want to be somewhere in between, offering both retail shopping and selling wholesale goods through other retailers? This decision will shape your entire strategic plan, so take some time at the beginning of planning out your business model to get it right.
Generating Strategy Questions
Strategic planning asks, where are we now, where do we want to be and how will we get there. Strategy is about asking questions about where you are at any given point in time as well as what your competitors might be up to, who could help you succeed or fail and so on. Effective strategy takes into account all of these factors — it doesn’t just look at one or two of them in isolation.
Data gathering step by step guide
Data gathering refers to how you collect, organize, and share your research with others. It’s an essential step in writing any successful plan because it helps you determine what resources you need, who will work on which tasks, where you are headed as an organization, and how much money it’ll take to get there. Start by creating a list of questions your data needs to answer: What kind of market analysis do we need? How detailed does our revenue forecast have to be?
Getting Executive Buy-in (Exec Summaries)
The next thing you need to do is get executive buy-in. Before diving into specifics, let’s first determine your target audience; who will be reading your report? In most cases, it’s members of your board of directors or shareholders. That being said, if you are dealing with low-level decision makers, there may not be an executive summary per se—they may only read your report in its entirety.
Presenting your Strategy in PowerPoint Format.
A strategic plan lays out how you will achieve your vision in measurable terms. This often involves setting specific goals, as well as strategies to achieve them. PowerPoint offers templates that can be used to create strategic plans—but if none of those templates fit what you’re looking for, it’s not difficult to put together your own presentation with some basic information. Some things to consider including: Five-year vision : This section should detail what you want your company or product to look like within five years. What will success look like? How many customers do you expect to have, and how much revenue do you expect them to contribute? If applicable, include similar information about your employees. 10-year vision : Same question here—what do you see in 10 years? Are your growth rates increasing or decreasing over time?
Hire a Professional to Write your Business Plan
A professional business planner should be able to take your ideas and vision for your company and write an outline for how you can make that happen. They’ll have experience writing plans, know what it takes to get them approved by investors, and understand what lenders will expect. If you’re starting a small business, hiring someone else to write your plan could end up saving you time—you’ll avoid having to learn those skills yourself while getting expert help at the same time.