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Here’s something I’ve heard from people many times: “We’ve tried to do strategic planning for our business but it was too overwhelming”, or “We know it’s important for us to plan but there are just too many issues”, or “We want to do some long-range planning but we don’t know where to start”, or any number of other similar comments.

And you know what?  There is truth in all of those comments.  Planning can be overwhelming.  There are a lot of issues.  It can be hard to get started.  So what’s the answer?  There are really only three possibilities.

First, you just don’t do it.  Obviously, if we were fans of this outcome we wouldn’t have a blog (or a business, for that matter).  As the saying goes, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”  Or, if you’d rather look at it in a more positive light, “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” (Thomas Alva Edison)

Second, you attempt to plan, but fail.  In some respects, this is even worse than the first option.  Not only do you still not have a relevant plan, but now you’re frustrated, your management team is frustrated, your employees are frustrated, etc. 

The last option, developing a solid long-range plan, is clearly the best choice.  So how can that be done?  Try breaking it down into parts, using the 6 P’s as a guide (special thanks to our Australian friend Russell Cummings):

  1. Patrons (customers):  Who are our customers?  Who would we like our customers to be?
  2. Products:  What are our key products?  What will our key products be in the future? 
  3. Promotion (think sales & marketing):  How do we promote our products?  How will we need to promote them in the future?  Do we even know what markets we’re in?  Or will be in?
  4. People:  What kind of people work here now?  What kind of people will we need in the future?
  5. Profit:  What is our current financial situation?  What do we want our financial situation to look like?  What is our goal:  Growth?  Profit?  Both?  Something else?
  6. Processes:  What are our key processes?  Are they free of waste?  What processes do we need to develop to reach our goals in the future?

Virtually every issue you can think of that relates to your business is covered here.  Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at how you might approach each of these areas.  Maybe planning isn’t that hard after all!

Strategic planning, Six p's of planning, planning

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