Strategy and strategic planning is not an event that you do once and then check off as completed on your to do list, possibly to revisit it in three to five years. Strategy is a journey that enriches you and your business in a multitude of ways.
Why do I refer to it as a journey? For two reasons.
First, strategy should flow seamlessly into doing. It is through the implementation that your strategy comes to life and bears fruit. A strategy that is never implemented is a waste of time. Doing that is not preceded by planning is haphazard at best and dangerous at worst.
Second, strategy is not a fixed destination that never changes. Every day that passes, every outside change that affects you and your business, and every change within your business including strategy implementation increases the likelihood that it is time for a new strategy.
Some changes may be small like a new technology that will enhance your customer service strategy. In that case, it may be enough to add a tactic to your customer service strategy. Over time you may find that you have added multiple tactics in appropriate places within your strategy. This is similar to patching a favorite pair of jeans. However, eventually there will be a tipping point where it will make more sense to start over with a new plan.
Some changes will be game changing and will immediately make the existing strategic plan out of date. This could result from a regulatory change that suddenly opens up or significantly changes a large area of your business. For one strategic planning client this type of change involved showing her plan to her daughter. Her original plan was based on the supposition that she would sell her business in the next five years and documented a feasible exit strategy. After seeing the plan and really understanding the business for the first time, the daughter was interested in becoming involved and taking over the business. Result: Time for a new plan based on succession planning rather than an ultimate sale.
Strategy is a journey that is rewarding on many levels. For many small business owners it reignites their passion for their business and leaves them feeling empowered to create the business of their dreams. It also provides the focus to finally accomplish those tasks that you know will make a difference in your future. And when you look back at all that you have accomplished as a result of your strategy and how far you have come, you will truly appreciate the journey.