The 7 Elements of a Well-Crafted Strategic Plan

Have you heard the old saying of the importance of starting with the end in mind? I am a huge proponent of taking the time to do the strategic planning because what gets planned gets done. There are 7 elements of a strategic plan that will help you get started. My best advice is to keep it fluid, and for it to be written in a way that you can easily edit, so you don’t get stuck doing something that’s incorrect. You can (and should!) ‘course correct‘ along the way, but you already knew that!

Why do I need a strategic plan?

You need a strategic plan as a roadmap for your business.

  • Where is it you’re going and how are you going to get there?
  • More specifically, it’s a way to help your employees understand what the overarching goals are and their part in the organization’s success.

A Great Strategic Plan Should Contain These 7 Elements:

Vision Statement

Your vision statement should be ambitious and goal-oriented. It’s a statement that looks at your overall direction of where it is you want your business to go. It’s really the what, the why, and the reason for everything you do.

Mission Statement

This is what’s going on today. What you do, who you do it for and how you do it. You can actually combine the vision and mission statements if you like, but I invite you to take the time do sit down and do both a vision and a mission statement.

Core Values

Your core values are those things that you believe in that will enable you to achieve your vision and your mission. Some samples of core values include:

  • diversity (my favorite!)
  • leadership
  • honesty
  • accountability
  • quality

These are the things by which you’re going to grow your business. It’s a great idea also to have your staff buy into these core values. These principles will be guiding your business so it’s very important that everyone on your team is on the same page.

A S.W.O.T. Analysis

A SWOT analysis is the fourth aspect of a great strategic plan. This is an exercise you will want to do a few times a year and throughout the life of your business. SWOT is an acronym that stands for:

  • S – Strengths
  • W – Weaknesses
  • O – Opportunities
  • T – Threats

The strengths and weaknesses are the internal analysis that you do. The opportunities and threats are external analysis.

What you really want to do is look at what you’re very good at and what sets you apart from your competition. What are the strengths/differentiators that you offer your target market? On the other side, study your weaknesses – change your perspective and you might see that you can easily convert a weakness into a strength. A word of caution, a strength can also become a weakness if you’re not careful about it.

Looking from the outside inconsider what opportunities you have as well as what threats there are in your industry and in your business. {Check out this article I wrote about identifying new trends}

Long-term Goals

A lot of people start their businesses thinking, okay, “I’m going to get through the first year and the second year” … but they never really look beyond that first couple of years. To be successful in business, you have to look way beyond and envision the future you want. Ask me about vision boarding, it would be really helpful here.

Yearly objectives

Within the next three to five years you want to break down your year by 12-month increments and then take a look at what exactly your objectives are. Even within those 12 months, I would suggest adding a milestone point bi-yearly to check-in and ensure there aren’t course corrections that need to be made.

So, for example, let’s say you started out the year with the goal to make $1M in revenue, by June of that year, you should be halfway to your mark and trending toward obtaining it. This is when you will want to revise either up or down, depending on the state of affairs.

Action Plan

The final element of an awesome strategic plan is an action plan or plans. Each objective should have details on how you will achieve and measure the objective. Who does what? When do they do it? How do they do it?

There are many examples and templates for creating a strategic plan. I’ve curated a few and gathered them on this Pinterest Board about Strategic Business Planning. An advantage of working with someone who’s going to help you design the plan is that you can get it done probably more quickly than if you tried to do it yourself.

Over to you, what do you include in your strategic plan? What works and what has not worked in the past?

Certified WBENC