Finance Growth Stages Operations Strategy

A strategic growth plan is not that thing you look at once a year. Here’s how to get started.

Goals, goals, goals – we all have them, but did your company hit them last year? How about for the first quarter of 2019? What are your growth goals for Q2 for all of your function areas and does everyone in your company know what they are?

If your company is like a lot of small businesses, there is, ahem, room for improvement.

That’s where strategic growth planning comes in, says Shelly Bernal, a consultant with Florida SBDC at FIU, a small business development center within FIU’s College of Business. Already have your goals, you say? Oftentimes, Bernal says, a company will admit that they have goals but wonder why they never make them. Maybe it’s because, while business owners are typically visionary and strategic, there is not a good strategic planning process in place that every employee participates in.

A sustainable strategic growth planning process focuses on the little steps your company can make every single quarter. These steps help your business grow and stay on track for achieving your larger goals. The process should involves every single person in your company.

Bernal, who also helps small businesses with international trade, said she began noticing that companies were reverting to traditional business plan template models for their strategic planning but were finding that they were too cumbersome and not results-oriented enough. So she developed this process.

Bernal began giving workshops for SBDC on strategic growth planning, and is currently working with a few of her SBDC clients on their strategic growth plans.

“What I am most excited about is this seems to be a format that companies are receptive to and are actually trying it,” she said. “Whether or not they implement it to the fullest extent, the real objective is to help companies do something more than they are doing. I am excited about over the next year getting more feedback and further improving it.”

Here’s what Bernal has to say about getting started:

  1. To have repeated growth year after year, you need to have a planning process in place.
  2. You need to have an overarching objective for the company. It needs to be one statement that everyone in the company can see how their work leads to that objective. Then everyone feels they are contributing to that result.
  3. The company needs to have a growth goal for every business function within the company. Whether there is a department established or it is just one person, you still need that function – sales and marketing, operations, HR, finance, CEO strategy –  to have a goal for the year.
  4. Now all these goals you have need to be broken down into specific bite-sized pieces that can be accomplished every quarter by one human being. It’s not the company will do X, it’s John Smith will be doing X –  it needs to be that specific. Each of these steps will move the company forward to the strategy objective that you have for the company.
  5. Every quarter, recognize and celebrate your successes. This helps to keep the focus on strategic growth.

These goals should be about going above and beyond your day to day work to move your company toward overall long-term sustainable growth, Bernal said.

In future posts, we’ll dive deeper into the process, but for now look for ways your business can break down your big growth goals into actionable steps each quarter that will make growth headway for your company – and get buy-in from the entire team. Make sure to go beyond sales and operations – also have goals for HR and finance. Once accomplished, celebrate those, and make another step in the next quarter.

Says Bernal: “Translate wishes into reality and focus on accomplishing something every quarter.”

TIP: Read more about strategy under the Strategy category on the GrowBiz blog.

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