Small Business Strategic Plan Development from Start to Implementation
This plan was developed for a working small bookkeeping business as part of a capstone course for my master's degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. I applied research and facilitation techniques I used regularly at my full-time job and learned at school and through professional development opportunities.
Conducted using leadership interviews and document review
P.E.S.T. analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technology)
This analysis was used to examine the environment external to the organization. This early component encouraged the client to think strategically from the beginning of the process
Compiled external information about products, customers, and competitors through online market research
Overview of the industry
Overview of the region
Competitors (Large, Similar, Alternative)
A funnel approach was used to identify the overall trends in the market. First, the industry in general was looked at, then the industry within the United States, moving down to the state, and finally the Washington D.C. metro area including two geographically adjacent counties, Fairfax County, VA and Arlington County VA. Some information was provided for the city of Falls Church, VA itself, but data was more difficult to come by, and it did not represent the greater growth opportunity the business may be looking for.
Developed through pre-work and a strategy session
S.W.O.T. analysis (Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, Threats) split into Future and Survival quadrants
Post-It note brainstorming applied to the S.W.O.T. matrix.
Analyses were considered, changed, combined, and/or added to until the matrix was validated as complete. Organization leadership completed a pre-work packet prior to the strategy session I facilitated. Each was asked to complete their own S.W.O.T. analysis separately, with a plan to integrate them at the strategy session. Pre-work was given for several reasons:
It acted as a source of data
It primed leadership to think about the larger strategy
It encouraged leadership to think of their organization in the context of their external environment
It allowed leadership to consider their personal and organizational values, as well as their vision for the company over a greater period of time than the workshop would allow.
For this strategy session:
Now was defined as 30 days to 6 months, Later was 6 months and a day to 1 year, and Eventually was beyond 1 year. Participants were asked to come with an idea of what they saw as their most important goals now, later, and eventually, understanding that these might change during the strategic process.
Strategic Issues, Questions, Strategies, Goals, and Objectives development
Derived from the S.W.O.T. analysis
Categorized into themes
Connections were identified between strengths and opportunities, and between weaknesses and threats.
Prioritized goals and objectives
Questions created from the relationships identified through categorization
Questions "answered" with strategies
Questions, strategies, and objectives are the result of a strategy planning session that built on the data gathered as part of the environmental scan, market research, and organizational assessment. By funneling the strategic plan from larger questions to more deliberate objectives, the methodology allows for a sound transition from idea to implementation.
Working from the questions, participants brainstormed strategies by writing as many strategies as they could think of for each question. In order t o achieve more reachable strategic goals, participants were asked to prioritize by assigning as few or as many of the provided dot stickers to each strategy. This exercise also helped to illustrate similarities between strategies and led to combination of strategies.
Mission, Vision, and Values development
Developed formal mission, vision, and values statements to reflect the here and now, the big dream, and the core of the organization, respectively.
Developed through pre-work and a strategy session with organizational leadership
Example strategic work:
To help set a future mindset, the participants were asked to imagine their company would appear in a publication 3-5 years in the future and write an article describing the company of that time.
What are the major accomplishments of your company?
What is the net worth? How many employees does it have?
What types of services does it offer?
Which companies are the main competitions for your company?
Don't worry if you're being realistic or not - think big!
In order to create buy-in on values, participants were asked to provide information about their personal values and relate these to the broader organization. The wider company values were derived from the pool of values identified during this session.
What are your personal values?
Which of these values translates to your organization?
Which of these values are important to develop across your entire organization?
Which of the values you just provided resonates most with you and why?
To get a clearer understanding of the mission and vision of the organization, participants were asked to think specifically about their company as it was then, and as the customer saw it.
What need does your business fill? You can list services and tasks, but try to dig deeper to explain how your services and tasks help your customers;
What is unique about the services and products that your business provides?
Name your top customers (and then explain how you defined "top customer"),
List characteristics of your target customer through descriptions like industry, demographics, service needs, etc.)
Which organization in your field do you consider to be the best and why?
Developed from organizational objectives
Action plan to implement vision, ideas, and goals
Metrics to judge success toward organizational goals