Mapping Out Your Firm’s Success

Planning long term while working short teerm requires an effective strategic plan

telephone systems. We incorporate business strategies with innovative solutions that provide [total] accessibility and strengthen your organization’s business lifeline. . . . ”

Next, perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. List your SWOTs after you tackle your mission statement. SWOT is a simple, but crucial, exercise wherein you ask yourself and your employees some tough questions. Strengths and opportunities won’t be as challenging to broach as weaknesses and threats, but they should all be thoroughly addressed and tackled head-on. Questions such as “What do my competitors do better?” or “Where have I slacked off in service delivery?” should provide eye-opening solutions that should significantly improve your company’s
productivity and bottom line.

Some experts suggest seeking feedback from suppliers and customers, even those who have stopped doing business with you. Inviting clients to a luncheon meeting, for example, will provide them with a forum in which to air their concerns and could lead to new services for your business. As for the threats to your business, if you’re serious about success you should know they are ubiquitous. Your SWOT analysis will impact your ability to reach a number of possible goals, such as increasing revenues, keeping pace with the competition or capitalizing on emerging trends, to name a few.

You want to get your business from one level to the next within a certain time. Now that you’ve finished your assessment, your mission stat
ement and your SWOT analysis, you have enough information to define your goals. According to the Lowe Foundation, your goals or objectives should be measurable, quantifiable and consistent. For example, 10% growth in revenues by 2001 is a measurable goal. You might need, say, five new customers to hit that growth mark.

A consistent goal is one that doesn’t conflict. For example, rapid growth and high profit margins are unreasonable expectations for a newly formed company. The reason? Large capital investments and advertising costs can erode a significant portion of any projected earnings.

If one of your goals is to increase revenues, you will need to create a strategy to achieve that goal, such as attracting new customers, expanding sales to current customers or introducing new products or services.

Your SWOT analysis comes into play in implementing your strategy or tactical objective. Determine which of the ideas in your SWOT analysis will affect your goal of increasing revenues. You might want to develop a marketing plan that would enable you to fully exploit a market you have had some success with. In other instances, a weakness in sales may be corrected by hiring an experienced sales person or you might want to take advantage of an opportunity by developing and marketing a new service.

What is important here is that you establish deadlines for your tactical objectives. If you have employees, assign them specific responsibilities.

Put Your Plan Into Action
After you’ve developed your long-term strategic plan, use it. Lumpkin advises evaluating your plan at least once or twice a year. Measuring or assessing where you are according to plan is absolutely critical.

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