Successful businesses strive to bring a new and different experience to their customers. This effort to set a company apart from its competition often means identifying gaps in the market. Finding ways to take advantage of the gaps and differentiate a company from competitors is the main thrust of strategic planning. When creating a strategic business plan, account for individual company strengths and be prepared to invest in the facets of the company poised for future success.
Study the Market
The first stage of strategic planning focuses on a market analysis. Determine the true wants and needs of consumers by studying available data like customer satisfaction surveys. Compare this to what's actually being offered by competitors. Listen to what customers are asking for and develop goals to meet their needs. For example, convenience is one important way companies can stand out in today's hectic world. Being available to customers during extended business hours may draw in additional market share. This may mean shifting staffing to more nights and weekends.
Develop a Unique Culture to Draw in Talent
Small companies can't always compete with large corporations by way of things like high salaries, but they can offer alternatives. Work-from-home opportunities or flex time are attractive to some employees. Others may look for a more relaxed office environment, with a casual dress code or a more open work area. Attracting top talent by offering unique employee benefits may increase the strength of a company and draw in those with highly desirable skills.
Tailor a Strategic Business Plan to Meet the Needs of Customers and Staff
A business plan should be periodically reevaluated to ensure that strategies are focused on a company's unique strengths. Analyze financial results to determine where the business is performing above expectations. Compare sales performance and profits of individual products against the budget. Benchmarking comparisons against top competitors are also useful when working on a strategic business plan. Plan to invest in funding for projects that will further the company's strengths. Be willing to take small, calculated risks, but always analyze the results on the back end before developing the next year's strategic plan.
Successful companies must fill a gap or niche in the market to set themselves apart. The strategic planning process helps organizations analyze the current market and devise ways to best utilize the company's unique strengths. Keep in mind, a gap may be something small, like a linked app that simplifies the use of a product. A gap may also not be production-related; it may be a high focus on customer satisfaction that attracts a larger client base. Efficiency gained through technology may also result in a quality product that costs less than current market alternatives. Once identified, these strategic opportunities should be the foundation of next year's strategic plan and the company's long-term success.