7 signs your business needs a new strategic plan
The adage says that 10 minutes of planning saves an hour in execution. The same motto applies to running a business. Whether your organization is opening another office location, onboarding a new client, or simply starting on a new internal project, the planning phase is of utmost importance. Without a plan, your team spends more money and more time completing the project, and it usually doesn’t turn out as well. Likewise, to make sure that the overall business is following a growth-focused trajectory, strategic planning or contracting strategic planning services is critical.
However, as much as we often know we need to plan for our business to be successful, many of us don’t undertake strategic planning sessions as often as we might need. So, how do you know if your business is overdue for a strategic planning session? Here are seven telltale signs.
1. You’re losing existing customers.
If your business is losing existing customers, especially ones who have been with you awhile, it’s a sign that something in your business model needs to change. Either you’re attracting and pursuing the wrong clients who aren’t a good fit for your business or you’re not focusing enough on the customer experience. Either way, it’s important to determine what the root cause is so that you can improve your client retention rates.
2. Your sales and profits are dropping or leveling off.
Even if you’re attracting and retaining new customers and your sales are up, decreasing or stagnating profits might indicate that your business has inefficient processes that are cutting into your profit margin. While working with an organization that offers strategic planning services, you might uncover that a new process has helped to retain customers but makes you less profitable. From there, you can decide to look deeper at working with a firm to improve your business’ process or transform your organization.
3. You’re losing market share, even if revenue is climbing.
Likewise, even if your sales and revenue are climbing, but you’re losing market share, it’s time to change direction and see how you can reverse the trend and hold onto the share that you’ve already acquired. Maybe it’s as simple as investing in some new marketing services, or maybe it requires a complete overhaul of your current customer service processes and systems to be more efficient or any other number of issues. Either way, you need to take action and make some decisions to have more success within the marketplace, and strategic planning can help you identify what steps to take.
4. You’re adding new products or services.
At certain points, your business may choose to diversify your product or service offerings to tap into new market segments, or your customers may start asking you to provide services that you don’t normally offer. If that’s the case, it shows that there’s a need that you can fill that’s outside your current business model, and updating your strategic plan will help you identify how you can tap into that market opportunity effectively and efficiently.
5. You have greater employee attrition than you used to.
Noticing that you’re suddenly losing more employees that you have been? Or maybe your employees are less engaged in the workplace, which could be causing burnout and a lack of productivity. To increase employee engagement and reduce turnover, you may need to implement new programs or processes that help foster a stronger company culture that attracts and retains great talent. Strategic planning will help you identify what measures to pursue to create that amazing office culture.
6. There’s been a significant change in your industry.
Over the years, certain industries have had to pivot dramatically to remain competitive. For example, with manufacturing, robotics quickly invaded nearly every facility. With marketing, professionals had to account for having access to digital advertising and similar technologies. If there’s a similar shift going on in your industry, consider developing a strategic plan so that you can adapt and stay at the forefront.
7. You want to get to the next level.
Sometimes, there’s nothing particularly concrete, but you want to take your business to the next level. Maybe that means expanding into a new territory or developing a new app or providing better customer service enhanced with artificial intelligence. To get to the next level, strategic planning will help you identify what’s holding you back from crossing the next business threshold and help you identify tactics to keep growing your organization.
The benefit of strategic planning services
Strategic planning is beneficial in all of these cases and more because it makes you step out of your day-to-day role and ask questions about your business that you wouldn’t normally. Strategic planning helps you intentionally look at the underlying causes for your profit loss or employee attrition or other indicators so that you can change, shift, or pivot your business model to adjust to the “new normal.”
Just keep in mind that your business doesn’t need to be experiencing all seven of these telltale signs to benefit from strategic planning, or even a single one. In general, we recommend that businesses review their plans every six months and update their strategic plans every two to three years so that they are up to date and align with current market trends and technology use, even if the business is performing well.
If you haven’t done strategic planning recently, consider blocking some time on the calendar with your leadership team and, if necessary, bringing in a strategic planning consultant to guide the process. Even a half-day or full-day session can help you clarify key pieces of your business strategy and brand. Alternately, you could also complete a strategic planning assessment to determine how and where you can strengthen your existing plan.
Tammy Taylor, PMP, is the president of CrossGen Solutions, a business consulting firm based in Madison that works with local, cross-generational talent. She has more than 25 years of project management experience and is an active member of the Project Management Institute.
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