Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

June 29, 2014

SCORE: Make strategic planning a team effort

TRAVERSE CITY — What does the future hold for your small business and what can you do about it?

These are questions every entrepreneur would love to have answered.

One of the best ways to address these questions is through ongoing planning that draws on the experience and insights of your management team, advisors, and employees.

Consultant John Jantsch, founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Network, says such planning sessions provide opportunities to “ask tough questions, explore new opportunities, and embrace changes” necessary to grow your business. Jantsch sets aside a day each year exclusively for strategic planning.

Here are some tips for strategic planning for your small business:

Fewer priorities: Start by thinking big and then narrow your focus based on what can realistically be achieved. “We naturally start eliminating things we should not focus on in an effort to make room for only the highest priorities,” Jantsch said. As a result, his team narrows the number of key objectives to three, allowing them to focus on those efforts and eliminate lower priority activities.

Embrace results: Objectives are fine, but what results do you expect when they’re achieved? Creating a list of what’s to be gained if you accomplish your objectives and what you’ll lose if you don’t provides the motivation to overcome obstacles and stay focused on results as a team.

Commit to change: If your stated objectives for the year don’t have you asking what needs to change in order to achieve your objectives, you are limiting your thinking. “All growth involves change,” Jantsch said. “You have to commit to how that’s going to happen or your objectives will not be achieved.”

Create owners: Every objective will naturally spin off a list of projects, which may include new products or services, new processes, or new approaches to managing your business. Part of your planning process must include identifying projects and assigning someone to be responsible and accountable for moving them forward.

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