Strategic planning enables you to develop a vision and common goals for your startup. It employs key strategic initiatives to set a path toward achieving those goals, and includes tactical and process-driven activities designed to achieve your strategies. It also establishes the business case for investing resources into those activities. Before you create a strategic plan, start with a model as the foundation. 

Let’s dive into understanding how to create a strategic planning process model for your startup.

Quick takeaways: 

  • The strategic planning process model helps to organize your ideas for growing the startup
  • The model will help you determine where you want to go, understand where you are now, and come up with a plan on how to get there
  • Choose a strategic planning process model that best suits your startup

What Is a Strategic Planning Process Model?

The strategic planning process helps startups to grow their business or achieve specific goals. A model covers all the elements that make up the strategic planning process, including:

  • A structure for creating your startup’s goals
  • A framework that helps you actively work toward your goals
  • A governance method for managing and tracking your progress

A strategic planning process model is a type of template for organizing your ideas. It describes goals and objectives, intended outcomes, and how they fit together. Following a strategic planning process should result in a well-structured strategic plan that will provide a clear set of actions from which to work. 

Parts of the Strategic Planning Process Model

The strategic planning process model consists of three key parts.

Goal Setting = Where Do You Want to Go?

First, start with the end in mind. What goals do you want to achieve? Do you want to increase revenue or reduce your expenses? Are you looking to move into a new market or grow your existing market? Once you have a specific destination in mind, you can develop a strategy for getting there.

The goals you set during this stage should be SMART:

  • Specific: The goal is well defined and distinctly described
  • Measurable: You can quantitatively measure progress toward achieving the goal
  • Attainable: The goal can be realistically accomplished
  • Relevant: Accomplishing this goal will get your business closer to your vision
  • Time-bound: There is a specific end date for the goal

Current State Analysis = Where Are You Now?

Now that you know where you are going, determine where you are today. Conduct a current state analysis to describe your baseline and understand your current situation.

A current state analysis should include:

  • Current information about your business and your buyers (e.g., problem-solution fit, customer segmentation, value propositions, buyer motivations, sales process, customer journey)
  • Information on the ecosystem within which your startup exists (e.g., competitor analysis, market trends, political, economic, social, and technological trends)
  • Mission and company values
  • SWOT (strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis

Gap Analysis = How Will You Get There?

Now that you know where you are and where you want to go, determine what you need to do to achieve your goals. Conduct a gap analysis to take you from your present situation to your desired destination.

A gap analysis should include:

  • An analysis of your current state against your desired future state
  • Measurable and quantifiable actions to narrow the difference between the two states
  • Review and optimization for closing the gaps

Strategic Planning Process Models for Startups

The model you choose will depend on various factors, including your startup’s goals and your market. Adapt the model to your planning, resources, culture, and needs. 

Choose a strategic planning process model that best supports your leadership and management approach. 

Basic Model

This model is suitable for smaller companies and early-stage startups, as it is easy to modify and build upon. Follow these steps:

  • Identify your purpose 
  • Identify specific goals and strategies
  • Identify action plans for achieving your strategies
  • Monitor and update the plan

Alignment Model

This model is suitable for established startups that want more efficient and scalable growth. Its goal is to align your mission with your resources. It also helps with identifying why your goals are not leading to the desired results. Follow these steps: 

  • Outline your mission, resources, and actions
  • Identify what it is working and what is not
  • Determine how you will make the required changes
  • Update your strategic planning process model with those changes 

Issue-Based Model

This model is suitable for startups that want to create a plan that addresses the key issue or threat preventing them from achieving success. It can help with capitalizing on current opportunities and modifying the current plan to take advantage of specific circumstances. Follow these steps:

  • Conduct a SWOT analysis
  • Identify major issues and goals
  • Review the company’s mission, vision, and values 
  • Develop annual action plans 
  • Set a budget
  • Execute and monitor the plan

Real-Time Model

This model is suitable for startups that work within a rapidly changing environment. It requires being reactive, as long-term plans can quickly become irrelevant. Follow these steps:

  • Define your startup’s mission, vision, market position, competitors, and trends
  • Research external factors to identify strategies that will help you achieve your mission
  • Identify internal factors to identify strategies that address your strengths and weaknesses
  • Adapt strategies based on real-time events

Blue Ocean Model

This model (based on the book Blue Ocean Strategy) is ideal for startups looking for untapped markets or an uncontested niche. Its goal is to create demand and build a business in a market with little competition. Follow these steps:

  • Identify a market or opportunity being ignored by the competition
  • Understand the current state of play within that market
  • Identify customers’ pain points and how to provide value
  • Look for ways to create the desired product or service
  • Launch, test, and refine along the way

Choose a Strategic Planning Process Model for Your Startup

Every startup should engage in the strategic planning process. A model is a foundational guide for helping you to organize your ideas in a way that makes sense for your business, industry, and goals. Adapt and customize the model to serve your startup. 

Are you ready to grow your startup? Complete the Growth Acceleration Starting Grid to learn how.