Strategic Planning for Small Business: What We Have Learned So Far
As Featured in Charles N. Internicola’s Business & Franchise Law Report – Vol. III | Issue 5
In last month’s Business & Franchise Law Report, I briefly mentioned the book “Scaling Up” and my confession that as a business owner one task that I needed to do a much better job of was putting in place a “strategic plan” for our law firm. That is, a written plan where our team put pen to paper and following an extensive all day meeting we put together the framework of our strategic plan including our answers to questions like this:
- Why does our firm exist?
- If our firm disappeared tomorrow, would we be missed in the marketplace?
- What are our 2 to 4 core strengths as a law firm that make us unique in the marketplace and how can we focus even more on these core strengths to provide a service that is unmatched in the industry?
- What are our core values?
- What is the mission that we want to achieve over the next 3 to 5 years?
This is all “stuff” that I have always thought existed in my head and, quite frankly, I thought that I did a good job communicating the strategic plan that existed in my head. Turns out, that like many business owners, I have overlooked the necessity of putting in place and properly communicating our strategic plan.
So why is Strategic Planning So Important?
Well, I think we would all agree that it is necessary to set identifiable and communicated goals that are measured and monitored. The problem is that many small business owners fail to put this in writing and over the course of a business day, week, month and year we get overtaken with business tasks (providing a great service or selling great products) and fail to proactively plan and monitor progress.
But Business is Good, My Staff Works Hard and our Customers are Happy. Things Must be Good – Right?
Well that has always been my philosophy and my excuse why I didn’t need to sit down and go through the strategic planning process. Turns out I am wrong and in reading Scaling Up, Strategic Planning is all about “scaling your business up” for 10X plus growth and really impacting your market.
So where Am I at Now?
We are still working on our strategic plan, and although we have a long way to go, here are the tasks we have completed so far:
- Strategic Planning Session – Utilizing materials from “Scaling Up” and the “Strategic Planning for Small Business Guide” by Clate Mask (co-founder of Infusionsoft and someone discussed in the Scaling up book) I spent a day by myself working through our firm goals, and setting an agenda and discussion points for a full team meeting where we would work on our strategic plan.
- Full Day Team Meeting – Once I put a plan in place and an agenda, we set a full day team meeting. This was an all day meeting that we conducted off-site at a conference facility. We closed our office and our entire team spent the day working on a strategic plan for the firm. The photos in this newsletter are from the conference room where we had our meeting and on the wall were giant post-its reflecting the points we discussed and debated for over 8 hours. From my perspective, the meeting was a success and something long overdue. We left with parts of our strategic plan written down and in place including our core vales, our 3-5 year mission and an analysis of why we matter in the marketplace and how we could do more. We also left with a list of our strengths and weaknesses.
What is next for us?
I would say we still have a long way to go and the next step will be breaking down our 3 to 5 year mission and goals into annual and monthly goals with key performance indicators that we can track and follow. Basically, we have a lot more to do and the key will be to stay on track with this planning process.
What is the end goal?
After our meeting, it became quite clear to me that the end goal for our firm and our team is to be a firm and organization that really matters to our clients, the overall industry that we operate in and for one another and the families that depend on us.
The list of our core values are below. For me, just as important as the 6 core values that our team adopted was the process where we spent many hours discussing each one, how each core value came about and the list of core values that we considered but did not adopt because, well, they just didn’t feel right.
In terms of our strategic planning, there is still much to do.
To provide services, resources and industry know-how to empower our clients and to partner with them in building a great business.
- We go above and beyond without expectations.
- We do what we say we will do.
- We value time: Our own, our client’s and each others.
- We always ask how we can help or do more.
- We maintain a positive attitude in everything we do.
- We consistently improve who we are and what we do.
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By Charles Internicola July 31, 2015
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