The pandemic changed the world. Individuals had to adjust to new rules and work styles while businesses were forced to ditch any long-term strategic planning and focus on survival. However, true business leaders know that long-term planning is indispensable for the success of a company. They know that five to 10-year strategic plans define and consolidate a company vision, profitability, brand equity, and market-share growth. Leading businesses and industries understand there is no way around long-term planning. Because this is the only way they can grow and remain relevant. And relevance is vital!
Change is indeed inevitable and our current business plans can’t foresee the future. However, change is manageable with the right tools! And long-term planning is the most important weapon one can wield against uncertainty. It is this type of planning that allows boards and leadership teams to set measurable goals, organize activities in line with the company’s vision, align leadership, facilitate the decision-making process, evaluate the progress, improve the business process, and anticipate financial performance.
Don’t know where to start with your long-term strategic planning? Here are three principles you can use as a foundation for your long-term strategy plan:
Reassess your priorities
If there is one thing a crisis is good at is to help us reassess our priorities. Yes, the world as we know it has crumbled and we are now forced to pick up the pieces and make it whole again. The easiest way we can do that is by removing any addition that did not bring any value to our organization. If before the pandemic, new product lines or processes were piling up to help our company grow and shine, currently we might feel like they are weighing us down and making us lose sight of who we truly are and where we are going.
Don’t let unnecessary processes bury the true vision and goals of your company. Get your team together, answer the tough questions, and set your business’s priorities:
- What are our values?
- Are we different than the others?
- How are we different?
- What problems do we aim to solve?
- What solutions do we have?
- Where are we heading?
Write down the company’s vision in 100 words and turn it into a statement for everyone to know. This will be your guiding light into the darkness of an uncertain future.
Review your potential achievements
The pandemic has determined many business leaders to work in survival mode. This means that risks were reduced to a minimum and imagination was put to sleep. Because of the uncertainty and numerous variables that have thrown any potential forecasting out the door, businesses froze and gave up on any new marketing campaigns, product launches, or expansions.
However, I am here to tell you this is the time to re-imagine what you can achieve. With the right strategic planning set in place, your business can reach new heights and achievements. Start by conducting a SWOT analysis that focuses on your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Assess where your business is now so you can predict its future.
If you know the answers to questions like:
- What does this business excel at?
- What needs improvement?
- What more can we do?
- What is our competition?
you will find answers to questions like:
- What can we achieve?
- How can we take the market by surprise?
- How bold can we be?
- How big can we dream?
The time for ]exuberance is now! Take advantage of the period to come and set new goals for your business. Dream big and don’t be afraid to innovate. The world is ready for you!
Reinvent your action plan
Take your analysis, in-depth market research, and long-term planning and put it into action. An action plan needs to be specific, deliberate and focused while allowing for updates, changes, and flexibility. You need to be prepared for uncertainty and risks without digressing from your specific goals. It is better to take small bites and set feasible and realistic targets. Grandiose plans tend to cloud judgments and diverge the organization from its true vision. Test every decision based on prescriptive analytics and stay on the safe course.
Nevertheless, do not be afraid to experiment a bit. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Adopt different strategies designed to reach the same goal and see which one has the best results. Do not focus only on one strategy, product, or market. Expand your business plan to incorporate a variety of opportunities and plan for short-term experiments to unveil the route to success.
Strategic planning is all about structured processes towards achieving long-term goals. Yes, the current global situation is dominated by uncertainty and unknown, but this doesn’t mean you should give up on your long-term goals. On the contrary! You need to motivate your employees, reinvent your business strategies, and dominate the competition. Use the confusion and chaos to your advantage and surprise the market with various experiments. There is always an opportunity to grow for businesses ready to grab it!