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Regardless of the stage your business is at: Whether you’re new and starting up, you have product market fit and a growing customer list (and profitability), or you’ve got hundreds of people on your staff and you’re looking at new ways to grow and evolve.

You continually want to be finding ways to increase the value you create for the marketplace and ultimately fulfill on whatever success looks like for you. Not only is it more enjoyable when you’re going through it, but it helps create sustainable success.

Having a structured process for achieving your goals and moving your organization forward will help you save you time, money and energy as you grow your business. This structured process for strategic planning is called Aligned Strategy Development, it will help you plan and execute more effectively.

Here are 5 ways you can start planning for business strategy:

1) Get clear on what the future looks like.
If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? Be as descriptive as possible and ask yourself: If success was a place, how would we know if we got there. Not just for your organization internally, but how would your presence in the world be noticed or felt by others. You’ll also want to put a time frame on your vision. As is: We are going to create this future, by this date. And then go to work.

2) Get the rest of your people on-board with the future you’re creating.
Everyone on your team might not have the same version of the future as you. You need to see what other people see for a successful future and see how your vision fits into theirs. The key is to get everyone going towards the same place, because then you’ll be more inline with the activities that will get you there. Getting clarity on vision is easy, get every one to write it down, and then compare notes. See what’s similar and what’s different and then move from there.

3) Don’t do too much.
So many entrepreneurs and organizations try and focus on too many things, and don’t prioritize any one thing. If you focus on taking on a small handful of focus areas (strategic priorities) it will build your capacity for the future, you’ll be better prepared to take the next step. If you have 10 priorities about what you want to do next, you’ll make small progress and you’ll waste time and money by not having important project completed when you want them to. Start and complete the important priorities before moving onto something new, and your business will move forward faster.

4) Make communication a central part of your operations.
If you’re a solopreneur you can create accountability partners that you can talk about your plans and strategies with. Everyone has a different perspective on what to do next so take what make sense and then go execute. If you’re in a team, communication helps people stay connected to your vision and your plan. Get alignment with the future: Everyone on the same page about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, help you stay focused on what needs to be done now, and what can be left for later.

5) Plan and adjust.
The world of business changes fast and so does life. If you make a 5-year plan it can change in an instant. You can make a 5 year- long term- vision for what you want the future to look like, but that’s not the most helpful for what you need to do today and next week. Consider making a 3 month work plan inside of your 3 year strategic plan and adjust as you move forward. Everyone has a different approach to strategic planning and project management. In my work with small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) and non profits we’ve found that a having a mixture of long range and short term planning, combined with continuously updated action plans create the best results for moving forward and getting things done.

In my next guest blog I’ll go over the softer side of creating a business strategy and go over creating culture change and how to effectively lead people in your team. If you’re interested in learning the full strategic planning process, I’ll be doing a lunch and learn at CMPNY Coquitlam on June 22nd at noon, sign up here.

See you there!

Anthony Taylor is the Managing partner and lead strategic planning facilitator at SME Strategy (www.smestrategy.net) . His is also the Author of two books: I wish I knew (IwishIknew.c0) , and Alignment. (http://www.getalignmentbook.com)  You can find him working out of Spacekraft in Burnaby.

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