Strategic planning is the process of charting out a company’s vision, mission, values and strategy. It’s a critical part of determining the path you want your company to follow.

This isn’t a plan you create then leave to gather dust on a shelf. It’s the guide by which you’ll set priorities, improve operations, focus resources and make sure every part of your company is moving in the same direction. You should revisit your plan regularly to check your progress and adapt it to changes in your business.

Many companies tackle this process yearly, and all address the strategic planning process a bit differently. However, all should include the following elements:

Vision: A big-picture look at the future of your company. It’s important that all of the members of your team understand where the company is headed and how you’ll fill a need for your customers in the future.  

Mission: An outline of the purpose of your company. Mission statements add clarity to your company’s direct purpose in the marketplace. A mission statement articulates why you’re in business and what you’ll do for your customers, employees and other stakeholders. 

Values: The core principles that will guide the way your business operates. Just as individuals have values, it’s important for a business to do the same and to clarify those values to everyone on the team. Values are often the first thing to be addressed when creating a strategic plan.

Strategy: A clear path to accomplishing the goals of the business. It outlines the action steps and answers the question “how are we going to achieve our goals?” It translates your vision, mission and values into a plan that will take your company where you want it to go.  

Any successful strategic planning process requires analysis. You have to understand your business fully in order to put a successful strategic plan in place that will help you achieve your goals.

One tool for analysis that you’ll find invaluable in your strategic planning process is the SWOT Analysis. It evaluates your company based on your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats:

Strengths are the advantages your company has. What does your company do well? In what ways are you better than your competition? Do you have unique expertise, skills, equipment or products that other companies don’t have?

Weaknesses are your potential disadvantages in the marketplace. What are the areas where you need to improve? Where do you need to devote more attention? What are the limitations on your growth and success?

Opportunities are possibilities you can pursue to grow your business. Do you have a shot at a new contract, an invention, a talented new hire or a growing untapped market? What are the ways you can capitalize on your strengths to build your business? Are there changes now that can help you achieve your mission?

Threats are outside factors that can have a negative impact on the business. Are there changes coming in your market that will affect your business? Is your competition getting stronger in an area that threatens your market share? How can you use your strengths to overcome these threats?

Revisit this analysis every time you go through your strategic planning process. Below is a matrix to use in your SWOT Analysis.

Business Profile – Strategic Planning Example

Big Joe’s Big Pizza

Big Joe is the owner of Big Joe’s Big Pizza; serving oversized, thick crust pizza in a Chicago-style format.  By serving pizza that is twice as thick as traditional pizza, Joe offers a much more filling eating experience than his competitors.  His marketing reflects this, emphasizing that a Joe’s pizza “will never leave you hungry”. 

“Big Joe’s Big Pizza” Vision Statement

 Our pizza leaves our customers full and completely satisfied.  With our oversized portions, variety of toppings and great service, our customers will continue to order from Big Joe’s and always feel like they got more than their money’s worth.   

Mission Statement – To provide the largest, most filling and most delicious pizza to satisfy even the hungriest customer. 

Core Value Statement – Big Joe’s has a responsibility to ensure customers receive the highest quality pizza and service.  Big Joe’s delivery is always prompt, the restaurant is always clean and the service is always genuine. 

Strategy – Being the only pizza shop offering oversized pizza in the community, Big Joe’s has an opportunity to differentiate itself.  Marketing will continue to focus on this difference while maintaining the best tasting pizza in town.  There are several strategies that will help Big Joe’s continue to grow. These strategies include:
Increase marketing dollars and add additional channels of advertising

  1. Purchase second oven to reduce time it takes to fulfill orders during busy times
  2. Renovate dining room to reflect a fun, friendly environment
  3. Develop a better benefit package to retain employees
  4. Introduce a new dessert pizza to increase average customer spend