Business structures


30 Jun 2024

The importance of strategic plans


4 min

A game of chess being played

Easy to recommend, harder to implement effectively.

Much has been said over the years about the importance of strategic plans. Advisors often recommend that clients take the time to develop a strategic plan for their business, invoking the old adage, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

As an insolvency practitioner with 34 years of experience, I can confidently say that I can count on one hand the number of failed businesses that had taken the time to document and (at least try to) follow a strategic plan.

But strategic plans are not just for clients; they are equally important (if not more so) for professional advisors’ own businesses. This holds true for Worrells as well. Whether your business operates nationally, at the state level, or within a local community, you are an owner, an employee, a tenant, a trade creditor, and a taxpayer. Your business is important to you and deserves an investment in strategic thinking.

Drawing from my experience in assisting with the preparation and implementation of strategic plans for Worrells Queensland, I offer some observations that might be relevant to your business. Here are some key points:

Engage with stakeholders

You cannot prepare a strategic plan in isolation from stakeholders, particularly the business owners. Regardless of how dispersed in interest or location, without engagement, you risk preparing a strategic plan that is not worth the paper it is written on. Moreover, you run the very real risk of the business owners not buying into it or being committed to its success.

Talk to people. Listen to what is important to them. Recognise problems and discuss solutions. Document these discussions. Set expectations regarding actions, timelines, and responsibilities. Ensure that local objectives are part of the broader strategy.

Document and revisit

A strategic plan is only as good as its execution, and this is where action plans come into play. Action plans break down the strategic plan into manageable, actionable steps that can be tracked and measured.

  1. Define specific tasks: Clearly outline the tasks that need to be accomplished to achieve the strategic goals. Each task should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

  2. Assign responsibilities: Allocate tasks to specific team members or departments. Ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities and provide them with the necessary resources and support.

  3. Set deadlines: Establish realistic timelines for each task. Regularly review these deadlines to ensure the project stays on track and adjust as needed.

  4. Monitor progress: Implement a system for tracking progress. This could involve regular check-ins, progress reports, or project management tools. Monitoring ensures accountability and helps identify any issues early on.

  5. Evaluate and adjust: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your action plans. Be willing to make adjustments based on what is working and what is not. Flexibility is key to responding to changing circumstances and new information.

Asking for help

We are all busy with our day-to-day business lives. While it may be tempting to Google a plan outline or recycle last years, do not be afraid to ask for help. Many organisations specialise in strategic planning. While there may be a cost involved, you should assess this cost against the potential benefits, just as you would with any business decision. Just as you would not service your own car or build your own home, getting expert input for your strategic plan is crucial to getting it right.

Be invested

At the end of the day, a strategic plan will only succeed if you are both financially and emotionally invested in it. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone with new ideas and concepts, and consider bringing in an external facilitator to assist.

Recognise that your strategic plan is a living document that evolves with your business. It should reflect the needs of the business owners and inspire and drive performance for better outcomes.

Measure your outcomes

Be willing to recognise what has worked and what has not. Regular check-ins keep the strategic plan at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Learn from mistakes and celebrate successes.

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