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Strategic planning: Answers to your frequently asked questions

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Some entrepreneurs might not see the benefits of strategic planning or know how to proceed.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions and concerns raised by entrepreneurs about this important tool.

Question: My company is small. We don’t have a lot of money. Isn’t strategic planning just for bigger companies?

Answer: That’s a common misconception. All companies, large and small, can benefit from planning for the longer term. It can help you weather today’s challenging markets, diversify and proactively pursue the best opportunities.

Strategic planning doesn’t necessarily mean producing a big, highly detailed document. It can be done on a smaller scale at a reasonable cost for businesses of any size.

Question: How can I find time for strategic planning when I’m already swamped with the day-to-day business of running my company?

Answer: Taking the time to work on your business instead of in your business will pay big dividends, including helping you be less swamped day to day. A strategic plan can help you focus on important issues, make decisions, delegate, reduce errors and not waste so much time putting out fires.

Question: Won’t strategic planning cause a lot of disruption to my business?

Answer: Planning for your business may lead to changes in your company, but they will most likely be positive changes. The end result should be better decision making, wiser use of resources and improved growth and profit margins.

Also remember that change will happen anyway, regardless of whether you develop a business strategy. A plan will help you anticipate change and focus on the best opportunities, rather than reacting and letting change take you by surprise.

Question: How can I plan long term when the future is so uncertain and I have no idea what will happen next week, let alone several years out?

Answer: Planning is needed precisely because the future is uncertain. The information you have today can be used to make reasonable forecasts of what the future might hold. Thinking about the future helps us plan what to do in various scenarios so we can be more ready for whatever it brings.

Question: Everything is fine with my business, so why would I need a strategic plan?

Answer: It’s common for entrepreneurs to feel their business is doing great—until a sudden change takes place that disrupts or even imperils their company. Planning strategically can help you prepare for such changes and stop flying blind.

Question: Why should I do strategic planning when I already know I need to grow by investing more in sales and marketing?

Answer: Sales and marketing without the right strategy won’t necessarily bring you success. They could just increase your costs. And even if your sales go up, will you sell the optimal products at the best margins to the right customers? Will you have financing, operations and distribution in place to handle the sales increase?

Question: Why do I need a plan when I already talk regularly about our business goals with my team?

Answer: Even if you discuss your goals internally, a strategic plan gives your entire team a clearly articulated line of sight to those goals.

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