While you may have created a comprehensive business plan in the lead up to starting your business, change happens. It is very useful to develop a 12-month strategic business plan as an action and accountability tool that will set goals and keep your team and company on track over the year ahead.

The aim of a strategic business plan is to focus on specific initiatives to develop the business. It emphasises tactical actions to sustain a competitive advantage in the current marketplace, increase market share and foster business growth.

Here are three ways a strategic business plan can help you
succeed in 2024:

It reminds you of the big picture

It grounds your thinking and helps to reinforce company culture by helping you refocus on your foundational vision, mission and values.

It steers you in the right direction

It helps in taking stock and setting fresh goals. This paves the way to establishing an action plan for the following 12 months, from which leaders and team members can gain a clear sense of each person’s part in the success of the business. This action plan can be broken down into quarterly or seasonal segments to maintain focus and allow flexibility.

It focuses marketing

Marketing success relies on updating your business plan on an annual basis, allowing it to keep pace with company and market developments. It helps to clarify what makes your business unique, define exactly what you are offering and fine tune who your target market is. In other words it breaks down how your business is going to make money in the 12 months ahead.

The information gathering and analysis required to craft a worthwhile strategic business plan can appear daunting, but it is well worth it. Virtual Assistants with administrative, financial and marketing expertise can all be very helpful in gathering and tracking the necessary sales, financial, client, lead and market information. And when it comes to putting your strategic business plan into action, a Virtual Assistant or two can make all the difference to reaching your goals and cost-effectively growing your business.

Here are five steps to take in crafting your strategic business action plan for 2024.

1. First take stock

This involves gathering and reviewing information on your current and target clients as well as competitors, industry size and market trends.

  • Market analysis: involves examining the size of your market both in volume and in value, along with the economic environment in terms of barriers to entry and regulation.
  • Customer analysis: will allow you to understand more about ideal customer groups and their buying patterns with a view to tailoring your marketing communications accordingly. With this information you can shape your marketing to address customers’ needs and speak their ‘language’, define what marketing channels will best reach them and focus communication through target market segmentation.
  • Competitive analysis: involves gathering information on who your competitors are, researching their strategies, and analysing what they do well and where they fail. This process can shed light on your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as revealing how to remain a meaningful competitor in your industry. The process will benefit from drawing up a SWOT analysis to identify internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats for your company.

2. Qualify your competitive advantage

It is essential to determine how your business is uniquely qualified because this value proposition will go a long way towards determining the success of your company including navigating setbacks. For example, is it your service excellence that sets you apart? Or are you a knowledge leader in a particular area? Whatever your value proposition is, make sure that it is made crystal-clear across all your marketing channels.

3. Plot financial projections

Financial projections show that you have discipline in financial management, and they are a helpful tool to predict future financial performance. This includes how the company earns revenue, where it spends money and whether the company is making a profit. In addition, it is a great tool when making business decisions, such as when to take on more people or make a capital investment. It can also help you monitor month-to-month cash flow.

4. Set goals for the 12 months ahead

Goals are an important part of running a successful business as they provide a clear focus and set targets for your business to work towards. A quarterly action plan can provide a way to break down your annual goals into four manageable timeframes, allowing flexibility and the regular assessment of progress. Having a 90-day plan will keep you on track and motivated as you progress towards your overarching goals.

5. Turn your goals into an action plan

Linked to point four, an action plan is a definitive checklist of tasks and resources needed to complete a project or achieve a goal to required standards. Developing an action includes listing the teams and service providers to be involved. It breaks down tasks and resources needed to complete the project – including timelines and deadlines. Action plans help maintain operational efficiency and are great for reaching upfront agreement on how the work should be done.

The key to crafting and implementing a successful strategic business plan that works, is firstly to engage the whole team with the plan as early as possible in the planning process. This way everyone will be familiar with the aspirations and challenges of the company’s overall plan for the year and understand their contribution to a successful outcome. Secondly it is to build in measures and implementation steps that allow you to monitor the outcome at regular intervals. When you do this, goals become steppingstones to even greater goals.