How Strategic Planning Has Helped Our Business Flourish
When Jelmar was originally founded, the company was focused on bringing niche products to the public. We’ve continued to feed that need over the decades since we started, and we didn’t feel like we had to worry about creating a long-term strategic plan.
The marketplace has changed — and we’ve had to change along with it. The need for niche products has all but vanished for both consumers and retailers. Today, buyers and sellers want sustainable, “everyday use” types of products. To satisfy this shift, we decided to construct a formal road map in the form of a strategic plan.
The Advantages of Strategic Planning
A strategic plan is more of a guide than anything else. Put simply, it’s the GPS that tells your team which avenues to go up and down. You have a destination in mind and can leverage your plan to reach it. You’ll need to evaluate your plan regularly, adapting strategies and tactics while staying true to your ultimate objectives.
In all, the strategic planning process has been an incredible eye-opener for us. Not only has it given the Jelmar team a revitalized sense of purpose, but it also has provided numerous advantages. For one, we’re more patient because we know we’re going to get to our endgame eventually. It may take a few years, but we have a set course and know it’s achievable.
Another benefit of strategic planning has been the realization that we’re setting ourselves up for true industry leadership. Statistics suggest that initiating official, formal management approaches such as strategic planning has helped 7 in 10 companies exceed the performance levels of their peers. That’s comforting — not to mention rewarding — information for any business that has taken the time to develop a strategic plan.
Tips for Creating an Effective Strategic Plan
If you’re like us and have soldiered on without a strategic plan for too long, now is the perfect time to embrace one. Here are a few helpful hints to guide your planning process:
1. Lean into collaboration.
Make sure every team in your company has a chance to contribute to your strategic plan. Otherwise, you may have trouble earning buy-in. Employees see more value in plans that they’ve helped construct, which is tremendously helpful when implementing those plans.
At Jelmar, all departments (marketing, sales, operations, accounting, customer service) participated in our monthslong strategic planning process. We collectively discussed all the future accomplishments important to us and then laid out ways to execute those goals based on realistic manpower and budgets. The result has been a true amalgamation of differing viewpoints and ideas.
2. Shift tactics rather than goal posts.
Like all businesses, we pivoted when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Instead of changing our overarching goals, we shifted our procedures to meet evolving needs. For example, our product innovation techniques changed to include virtual meetings, contactless surveys and mailings, and other safe methodologies.
We never lost sight of the way we wanted our plan to play out — we merely maneuvered around the things that were out of our control. This required us to be innovative and renewed our sense of camaraderie, commitment, and culture positively without affecting our forward-reaching objectives.
3. Adopt a “parking lot” approach to new concepts.
During the planning process, your team may generate incredible contributions that don’t fit your current strategic plan. You don’t have to dismiss those ideas outright. Store them in a “parking lot,” which could be a shared and easily accessible brainstorming document. This approach acknowledges team members’ contributions while preventing diversions from your strategic plan.
Down the road, you can revisit and recapture “parked” concepts during insight and planning sessions. You never know when an idea might be the perfect fit — even if it doesn’t mesh with your vision at the moment, it could be a game-changer in the future.
A good strategic plan is a map that guides your business to the right destination. Be sure to take advantage of that plan to avoid getting lost. Along the way, you may find — as we have — that its value goes far beyond your expectations.