Strategic planning is an ongoing process for every business. It’s not something you implement and then shelve. Instead, your business should develop a guiding template that reflects your mission, internal culture, external factors, and objectives. This framework is designed to offer structure that keeps your business focused on taking goal-driven actions. Yet, it should be flexible enough to evolve over time. With a good strategic planning framework, your startup will have a repeatable and scalable roadmap for growth.
- Startups that take the time to develop a strategic planning framework can avoid common business mistakes.
- A framework is a dynamic document that’s easy to use and assess.
- With the structure and flexibility a framework offers, a business can effectively implement a strategic planning model that is aligned with its current needs.
What Is the Strategic Planning Process?
The strategic planning process helps a business grow or achieve other objectives. A strategic plan is based on a model and guided by your startup’s strategic framework.
Startups use a strategic plan to ensure:
- All actions align with the business vision
- A defined purpose is driving all business growth activities
- Resources are always being used in the best way possible to reach clearly defined goals
Strategic planning starts with understanding business intent and identifying growth goals. These goals should be concrete and detailed. They should also pass the SMART goal test: are your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound?
For example, growing your revenue and generating more leads is too abstract. Increasing gross revenue by 18 percent over the next 12 months — with a minimum 75 percent client retention rate to help maintain profitability — is SMART.
A strategic planning model can then help you reach your SMART goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Why Does Your Startup Need a Strategic Planning Framework?
Your framework is the template that gives structure to your strategic planning, resulting in plans that are actionable, accountable, and effective.
Without a strategy framework, businesses risk problems ranging from budget overruns to department misalignment.
With such a framework, your startup can more confidently take the right actions — using the right processes at the right time — because you know what you’re working with and why you’re taking each action.
- A smart strategic plan can help startups avoid cash flow problems. Among failed businesses, 29 percent cite running out of cash as a reason for going under.
- It can also help entrepreneurs make right-time decisions about when to put steps in place for growth — 13 percent of businesses cite product mistiming.
- It will also ensure that expectations are clearly defined and all roles and responsibilities are assigned to the right people.
Steps to Create a Strategic Planning Framework
Your strategic planning framework should provide a solid structure for taking action and assessing results. It should also be flexible so you can use it indefinitely. It’s a dynamic document or template that your startup can use now— and in the future— to scale and accelerate growth.
These are steps for developing a framework:
- Clarify your vision, mission, and purpose — What are your startup’s priorities? With a clearer business intent, you can more confidently steer your company in a given direction.
- Identify external factors — What is going on in your industry? What economic, demographic, and sociological trends impact your niche?
- Analyze internal factors — What are the strengths and weaknesses of your startup? Evaluate major risks and specific opportunities your startup can leverage.
- Define strategic challenges — As a new B2B business, which obstacles does your startup face right now? What about in the near - and long term future?
- Set strategic goals — Generate SMART goals that your strategic plan will help you achieve.
- Designate roles — Which roles and responsibilities need to be filled? Which skills are essential to accomplishing each objective established in your planning?
- Outline the assessment process — Describe how to assess and monitor your strategy after implementation. Decide what to do when you don’t meet objectives within a set timeframe.
- Outline the communication process — Developing and implementing a strategic plan is a collaborative process. Decide which communication channels your team will use. Who’s responsible for making sure different roles are updated? What communication timelines will you use?
5 Strategic Planning Process Models for Startups
The framework is the overarching roadmap. Within it, you’ll include the strategic planning process model and specific steps that work well for your business.
Keep in mind: there’s no perfect model. The model you use will depend on your niche and specific goals. You should also modify your model to align with your planning, resources, and culture.
Here are five strategic planning process models your startup can use.
Basic or simple model
This straightforward model is ideal for early stage startups because you can easily modify or build from it. It involves identifying a purpose and strategies, creating action plans to achieve those strategies, and monitoring and updating as needed.
This is a useful model for a more established startup trying to achieve efficient, scalable growth. The focus is on internal operations — a business will evaluate current processes and identify anything that needs realignment to achieve goals.
In this model, a business will focus on the most pressing issue or threat and then create a plan to stop that issue from inhibiting success. This model can also be used to capitalize on current opportunities and modify the strategic plan to leverage specific circumstances.
This highly-adaptable model can be a practical option for startups in industries that change quickly. It involves regularly researching and assessing internal and external factors and then adapting strategic planning around real-time events.
Blue ocean model
With this strategic planning model, the objective is to chart new waters by finding untapped markets or an uncontested niche.
Leverage Strategic Planning for Startup Growth
With a well-developed framework and experience working with different strategic planning models, your startup can focus on goal-aligned actions and operate more efficiently.