Small firms do not plan to fail, but fail to plan | SupportBiz

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Small firms do not plan to fail, but fail to plan

One of the cornerstones of the success of any business is meticulous planning and execution. Most businesses fail not because they plan to fail; but because they fail to plan. The fact is that most small businesses fail to grow because they lack a strategic plan to realize their vision.

And if that was not sufficient enough, another fact that plays an important part in this failure is the lack of effective implementation once a plan is developed.

As a business owner while considering formulating a strategic plan, the first question you must answer is what, exactly, do you want to accomplish? Once that has been determined you will then need to develop a strategy for making it happen. As the old adage goes, “Plan your work and work your plan.”

Planning your work

For a small business, a strategic plan is essentially a step by step guide to map out how it will reach various milestones – goals and objectives, set for the business. It starts with a vision of what the business will be and how it will function in the near future, typically three to five years out. The plan also serves as a systematic management tool for implementing the strategies. The goal is to integrate every aspect of the business into a systemic approach for achieving the vision of the business.

Although each business will have its individual strategic plan depending on facts of each of the cases and will differ in some of the details. However, there are certain basic elements which will remain constant and will be part of most business strategies. Some of the common elements that should be part of every plan are given below:

-Define your mission, your vision and your values / culture

-Conduct analysis and evaluation of resources

-Establish your goals and objectives

-Determine your strategies for accomplishing your objectives

-Decide on your action plan

-Create your organization and accountability structure 

-Develop an operating budget

-Design and implement an integrated MIS tool to measure and quantify progress

-Periodically conduct business performance reviews vis-à-vis the plan

-Communicate the performance results and corrective actions to the entire organization

-Work on organizing shortage in resources

The key to successful strategic planning is to involve everyone in the business, to some degree, in the planning process. Employees are vital to the strength and success of any business enterprise, and the business owner alone cannot effectively run the business – nor carry out the strategic plan.

Working your plan

Now that you have your strategic plan, how do you execute / implement it effectively? This is the fate of far too many small businesses – creating a wonderful document that eventually ends up in a file collecting dust while the business keeps on struggling to survive. What is often missing is effective coordinated planned action to communicate the vision and strategies to the employees, and the ability to translate strategy into implementable actions.

This at times is referred to as execution / tactical planning. This phase of the strategic planning process is crucial to implementing the overall strategy of the business -- to bring the vision to reality. A tactical plan drives the execution of the strategic plan across the entire organization. As each department completes their action plans to work “on” the business, they accelerate the success of the strategic plan.

A tactical plan essentially lays out the plans and procedures for getting to the defined strategy. It will involve the scheduling of immediate or short-term activities that are required to achieve the objectives of strategic planning.

For example, your strategic plan is to open several outlets of your restaurant-brand. The tactical plan might include hiring a well-known marketing consultant for the company, for setting up different restaurants – which areas, cuisine, size among others. 

A strategic plan is essential to the success of any business, but how it gets implemented will determine how successful the business becomes. Having a clear vision is not enough – you must also have clear objectives; a strategy for attaining them; and the tactics and communications to see it through.

Chaitanya Shah is an SME financial and growth Navigator. He can be reached at or on +91-9322232039