Mission, vision and everything in between. In the day-to-day operations of a business, organization or nonprofit, it’s so easy to get lost in the details and distracted by this quarter’s to-do list.
But the bumper sticker has it right: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Bill Dunton, managing partner of Abacus CPAs, LLC, shares six reasons why crafting and cultivating a strategic plan is never optional.
1. Strategic Plans Establish Specific, Action-Driven Direction
Answer the emails. Check the invoices. Run the report. In business, there’s a thousand tasks to complete at all times. But is the work you’re doing the right work? Specific, measurable goals written down and referenced often makes your future happen – not happen to you, says Dunton. “We like to use the word intentional with our strategic planning clients,” he says. “You can be intentional about your future, and when you’re intentional, your goals are more accessible and achievable.”
2. Strategic Plans Support Growth and Longevity
For nonprofits, it can be easy to focus on the mission every day. But when nonprofits and businesses focus only on their why, they forget one crucial principle: continuous growth. “With a Strategic Plan, the long-term goals give you the vision of where you want to go, with a bigger look at the how,” says Dunton. “Then, you create annual goals to stay on path, while getting some success and results along the way. You take those five-year goals and break them down into smaller, yearly steps, which allows you to be continuously strategic and focused on growth.”
3. Strategic Plans Increase Profitability and Market Share
Over the course of two days, Abacus leads strategic plan clients in a deep-dive retreat to generate attainable goals for teams and individuals. Focused planning and strategic thinking uncovers new customer segments, identifies market conditions and determines which product and service offerings are in your organization’s best interest, says Dunton. “An intentional and targeted approach to markets and opportunities will guide your sales and marketing efforts, distribution and other business decisions, which ultimately means more profit to the bottom line and a stronger market position.”
4. Strategic Plans Help Teams Make Wise Business Decisions
The best strategic plans are made with leaders and team members set goals and define values together. When support staff, middle managers, leaders and board members are collectively united in a shared vision, that increases accountability to maintain it, says Dunton. “It’s helpful to get buy in from throughout as much of your organization as possible. Not only are you casting the net wide to get as many great ideas as you can, you’re also engaging your team in the process. That collective ownership of the Strategic Plan ultimately increases the adherence to its goals, mission and vision.”
5. Strategic Plans Help You Recruit and Retain the Right Employees
With a workforce crisis, hiring and keeping the right team members is essential for every organization. A clear, preferably concise, mission and vision statement can guide the company’s culture to boost morale and attract the right candidates. “Strategic planning is the foundation of a company’s culture,” says Dunton. “By intentionally setting your mission, vision and values, that helps you be intentional. Every company is going to have a company culture; it’s either going to be intentionally set or happen by default. If you let it happen by default, it’ll be centered around human nature – which often turns negative. If you’re intentional, you’re intentionally positive, which increases differentiation from your competitors.”
6. Strategic Plans Increase Job Satisfaction For Every Team Member
When goals are clear and a mission is shared, the team wins – and wins together. Class Act Management completed a two-day Strategic Planning retreat, developing a structured framework to achieve a realistic plan that stretched their potential. And their team couldn’t wait to get started, says Teresa McGeehan, owner operator of McDonald’s locations. “Every team member is now communicating better and feels empowered, instead of weighed down by our goals. Since this plan has been in place, we’ve also been able to drastically increase profitability.”