My first reaction on being asked this question was: is this person [superemotions file=”icon_eek.gif” title=”EEK”] crazy? Of course you do!!
But then, on reflection, I realized that this being the (Ameri-) English language we should probably go over some definitions and clarification of what (I think) you need when.
So, what is a ‘strategic plan’? A strategic plan is the outcome of ‘strategic planning’. According to wikipedia “strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people“.
If you are just starting out, with an idea in your head or on a napkin, then your first ‘strategic plan’ can be as simple as a few words about the problem/opportunity you are addressing, what your solution is, how you intend to monetize that solution, who your target market is and how you intend to get your product/service to those target markets.
As you are fleshing out your idea and assessing the business’ feasibility you are doing strategic planning, usually with input from advisors and others that can provide information and answers to questions you will have.
As your business grows you may evolve to the point where a multi-day, focused, strategic planning exercise with a full follow-on process is appropriate. This is best done with a facilitator who has a proven process.
But there are many companies who will never need this kind of intense, facilitated process. For example, if your business is based around just you providing your personal services, then the time and expense associated with a formal, facilitated session is probably overkill. So does this mean, in this case, that you shouldn’t have a strategic plan?
It’s my belief that every business needs a strategic plan – after all that is what you are going to run your business off. Not having a strategic plan means that your business execution will be less focused; that you will not have clarity on your key differentiators – strategic excellence positions; and that your business growth will suffer.
So, in answer to the question: “I’m starting a business – do I need a strategic plan?”, my answer is yes; but with the caveat that this doesn’t mean you need to immediately go out a do a multi-day, facilitated, strategic planning process.