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Clone our handy SWOT map template to your account or quickly create a new mind map with the following layout: Your browser is not able to display frames. As soon as everyone has accessed the map, you can start the analysis together. Start with your strengths. Strengths are characteristics of your business or project that provide you with an advantage over competitors.

After strengths come weaknesses —basically all things that put you at a disadvantage relative to others. Examples of weaknesses could for instance be a bad reputation, a high cost structure, or a lack of patent protection. Opportunities are openings you can exploit to your advantage, such as beneficial changes in the law, the arrival of a new technology or an unfulfilled customer need.

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Threats are elements in the environment that could have a negative impact on your business, such as new regulations, the emergence of a substitute product, or a shift in consumer taste away from your product. So this is how you conduct a simple SWOT analysis in a mind map. Your browser is not able to display frames. Spending time on identifying exactly where you want to take your business - and how you will get there - should help you reduce and manage those risks.

As your business becomes larger and more complex, so strategy formulation will need to become more sophisticated, both to sustain growth and to help you muster the leadership and resources you need to keep your business developing.

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To do this, you will also need to start collecting and analysing a wider range of information about your business - both about how it operates internally and about how conditions are developing in your current and potential markets. The process of strategic planning is about determining the direction in which you want to take your business.

It involves setting out your overall goals for your business. By contrast, the purpose of the business plan is to provide the detailed roadmap that will take you in your desired direction. Your strategic planning and your business planning should be complementary, but effective strategy development requires you to shift your focus from the day-to-day concerns of your business and to consider your broader and longer-term options.

Developing a strategy for business growth requires you to deepen your understanding of the way your business works and its position relative to other businesses in your markets. As a starting point, you need to ask yourself the following three questions:. While the second question - Where do you want to take it? You should balance your vision for the business against the practical realities of your current position and changes, such as increased investment in capital and other resources that would be required to implement your vision. A strategic plan needs to be realistically achievable.

Tips to Keep in Mind When Developing a Strategic Plan | OnStrategy Resources

As with any business activity, the strategic planning process itself needs to be carefully managed. Responsibilities and resources need to be assigned to the right people and you need to keep on top of the process. Try to find people who show the kind of analytical skills that successful strategic planning depends upon. Try to find a mix of creative thinkers and those with a solid grasp of operational detail. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't try to do it all yourself.

Take on board the opinions of other staff - key employees, accountants, department heads, board members - and those of external stakeholders, including customers, clients, advisors and consultants. There is no right or wrong way to plan the process of strategic planning, but be clear in advance about how you intend to proceed. Everyone involved should know what is expected of them and when. For example, you may decide to hold a series of weekly meetings with a strategy team before delegating the drafting of a strategy document to one of its members.

Or you might decide to block off a day or two for strategy brainstorming sessions - part of which might involve seeking contributions from a broader range of employees and even key customers. The priority with strategic planning is to get the process right. But don't neglect the outcome - it's also important to make sure you capture the results in a strategic planning document that communicates clearly to everyone in your business what your top-level objectives are.

Such a document should:. Strategic planning is about positioning your business as effectively as possible in the marketplace. So you need to make sure that you conduct as thorough as possible an analysis of both your business and your market. There is a range of strategic models that you can use to help you structure your analysis here.

These models provide a simplified and abstract picture of the business environment. SWOT strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis is probably the best-known model and is used by both smaller and bigger businesses in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors alike. A SWOT analysis involves identifying an objective of a business or project and then identifying the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable to achieving that goal.

There are other models you can use to assess your strategic position. The Five Forces model aims to help businesses understand the drivers of competition in their markets.

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It identifies five key determinants of how operating in a given market is likely to be for a business:. There is no set blueprint for how to structure a strategic plan, but it is good practice to include the following elements:. You may also want to consider adding an executive summary. This can be useful for prospective investors and other key external stakeholders.

Growing a business can pose some considerable personal challenges to the owner or manager, whose role can change dramatically as the business grows. Effective strategic planning involves considering options that challenge the way that business has been done up to this point.

Defining Strategy

It may be that decision-making in some areas will be handed to others, or that processes which have worked well in the past will no longer fit with future plans. It can be tempting for owners or managers to overlook alternatives that are uncomfortable for them personally, but to disregard your options on these grounds can seriously compromise your strategic plan and ultimately the growth of your business.


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In the final analysis, it is the owner of the business who decides the strategic plan. Growing a business is not something done "at all costs". However, an honest assessment of the options allows for any decisions made to be as informed as possible. The key to implementation of the objectives identified in the strategic plan is to assign goals and responsibilities with budgets and deadlines to responsible owners - key employees or department heads, for example. Monitoring the progress of the implementation plan and reviewing the strategic plan against implementation will be an ongoing process.

The fit between implementation and strategy may not be perfect from the outset and the implications of implementing the strategy may make it necessary to tweak the strategic plan. Monitoring implementation is the key. Using key performance indicators KPIs and setting targets and deadlines is a good way of controlling the process of introducing strategic change. Your business plan is another important tool in the implementation process.

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The business plan is typically a short-term and more concrete document than the strategic plan and it tends to focus more closely on operational considerations such as sales and cash flow trends. If you can ensure that your strategic plan informs your business plan, you'll go a long way to ensuring its implementation. Remember that strategic planning can involve making both organisational and cultural changes to the way your business operates.


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Our information is provided free of charge and is intended to be helpful to a large range of UK-based gov. Because of its general nature the information cannot be taken as comprehensive and should never be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice. We cannot guarantee that the information applies to the individual circumstances of your business.