How to create a strategic plan that works for your business

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Typically, every business creates targets and goals. By organising and writing your objectives in a strategic plan, you can identify the direction you want your business to go in and how you're going to get there. Also, understanding how to create this plan can help you once you've finalised your objectives. In this article, we discover how to create a strategic plan, what to include and the benefits it can bring for your business.

How to create a strategic plan

Growing a successful business involves many important decisions. A strategic plan is a written document that states where you want your business to go in the next year. It's a roadmap for your organisation and sets out your goals and the steps you're going to take to achieve them. The purpose of a strategic plan is to assess where you are now and how you expect your organisation to evolve soon. When you're deciding how to create a strategic plan, there are many different factors to consider. Follow these guidelines to help you create your own:

1. Decide on a structure

First, decide which structure you want to use to organise your plan. You may want to choose one of the following models:

  • Goals-based planning: This is one of the most common ways of structuring your plan. It sets out your goals and the strategies you're going to follow to achieve them, and includes actionable steps and sets out different tasks for people in your company.

  • Issues-based planning: An issues-based plan explores the challenges your organisation faces. It goes into the details of those issues and delivers an action plan to overcome them.

  • Vision strategy planning: This type of structure expresses your company's vision. It assesses how you can achieve your mission while adhering to the values you believe in and how you want your company to evolve in the future.

2. Write your vision statement

This is usually a short and simple sentence that defines the purpose of your organisation. A vision statement summarises your core values and the reason you're in business. It helps keep your employees motivated and can have a big impact on your company's success.

The best vision statements add a 'real world' dynamic to entice new customers to find out more about your company. They deliver a punchy sentence that people remember. In addition, good vision statements help investors and stakeholders better understand what your goals are.

3. Write your mission statement

A mission statement describes what your organisation does. It sets out your aspirations, why you're in business, your core values and your vision for the future. To write your mission statement, it's useful to think about the main function of your business and how you want your customers to view you. Some companies combine their vision and mission statements into one.

4. Think about your focus areas

Your focus areas are more specific than your vision statement and are the foundations of your strategic plan. They start to build the structure and explain how you're going to achieve your goals. For each of your core values, determine a focus area. You may want to create between three and five different focus areas per value. This is a great way to suggest innovative ways to reach your goals. Examples of focus areas are:

  • innovation: launch new product range

  • customer satisfaction: collect customer reviews

  • community support: organise charity donation

5. Set out your objectives

Your objectives are what you want to accomplish, and they form the core of your strategic plan. The idea is to identify three to six objectives that define specific aims and that align with one or more of your previously listed focus areas. You might list organisation-wide goals, such as launching a new product or employing more staff.

Objectives keep you on schedule and help you meet your goals. Setting a date by which you hope to achieve that target gives it more definition. For example, if you run a pet shop, you might set an objective as:

Example: Expand healthy dog food range by the end of June 2022.

6. List your strategic projects

Your strategic projects are the actions you're going to take to accomplish your objectives. These are specific steps with deadlines that clearly set out how you're going to proceed. Usually, you identify several projects for each objective. The aim is to fill in the details of how you're planning to achieve your objectives. Following on from the pet shop example above, your strategic project to expand your range of healthy dog food may be:

Example: Contact grain-free and wholefood dog food manufacturers by April 2022.

7. Include key performance indicators

Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure your progress towards achieving your business objectives. They show how effective your business is at meeting its goals. KPIs help you determine where you are on your journey to accomplishing your targets. Examples of KPIs are:

  • percentage growth in sales

  • number of new partnerships

  • percentage of five-star customer reviews

Related: Areas for improvement to help with employee performance

Differences between a strategic plan and a business plan

These documents are similar, but they're not the same. A business plan sets out your short- or medium-term targets and how you're going to fulfil them. It focuses on a particular area of the business or a specific product or service. A strategic plan sets out your longer-term goals and what you're going to do to reach those objectives. Strategic planning generally focuses on the business.

Formatting your strategic plan

Once you've decided on a structure for your plan and have thought about the elements that go into it, it's time to set it out in an appropriate format. Here's how to use the elements given above and place them into a well-organised plan:

Executive summary

This is a brief overview that includes the main points of the plan. Usually no longer than two pages long, it includes information about the company, the problems you're solving, market strategy, revenue and information about your team.

Company description

This gives information about your organisation and what it does. It can include details of your history, the types of services and products you sell, your target market and what makes your company unique.

Mission, vision and value statements

You can write the mission and vision statements separately or combine them into one section. They set out your goals and ambitions and help customers and employees understand the purpose of your business. Your values explain what inspires your organisation on a daily basis. These values generally align with your mission statement and focus on your strengths.

Strategic analysis

It's important to look at the wider industry you operate in and to consider where your organisation fits, in comparison with your competitors. A strategic plan helps you identify your strong points and what you might want to improve on in the future. Looking at your target market helps you think about what your customers need and what you can develop further to maximise your business.

Action plan

You can present your objectives and projects here according to your draft outline. This sets out how you plan to shape your business in future and what steps you're going to take to achieve your goals.

Related: How to write an action plan to help you achieve your goals

Budget and operating plans

Typically, the budget plan outlines the resources and funding necessary to achieve your strategic goals. You can include your key performance indicators to show how you expect your business to grow and how you might reach your targets.

Signature page

You may want to place your signature page at the front of your plan, or at the end. It includes signatures from the board of directors or senior management, which show their approval of the strategic plan.

Benefits of writing a strategic plan

Creating a strategic plan can bring many benefits to your organisation, including:

  • Define the purpose of your business.

  • Communicate your goals and objectives.

  • Set a benchmark to measure your progress.

  • Gather employees' opinions about the direction of your business.

  • Create a vision for your company's evolution.

Related:

  • What is strategic vision? (And benefits, importance, skills)


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