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How to Write a Business Plan

Last Updated: October 30, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Keila Hill-Trawick, CPA . Keila Hill-Trawick is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and owner at Little Fish Accounting, a CPA firm for small businesses in Washington, District of Columbia. With over 15 years of experience in accounting, Keila specializes in advising freelancers, solopreneurs, and small businesses in reaching their financial goals through tax preparation, financial accounting, bookkeeping, small business tax, financial advisory, and personal tax planning services. Keila spent over a decade in the government and private sector before founding Little Fish Accounting. She holds a BS in Accounting from Georgia State University - J. Mack Robinson College of Business and an MBA from Mercer University - Stetson School of Business and Economics. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 2,312,134 times.

If you’re interested in starting your own business, by now you probably know that writing a business plan is one of the first steps. But what should a business plan include? How detailed should it be? Do you need to do research first? Don’t worry—below we’ll answer all of your questions and walk you through putting together your first business plan from start to finish!

Doing Your Homework

Step 1 Analyze the potential markets for your business.

  • Is there a viable market for the product or service you want to sell?
  • How old are your potential customers?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • Is your product or service attractive to a particular ethnic or economic population?
  • Will only wealthy people be able to afford it?
  • Does your ideal customer live in a certain type of neighborhood or area?

Step 2 Establish the size of your potential market.

  • How many car mechanics are in need of soap in any given community?
  • How many children in the United States are currently under the age of eight?
  • How much soap will they use in a month or a year?
  • How many other soap manufacturers already have a share of the market?
  • How big are your potential competitors?

Step 3 Identify your company’s initial needs.

  • Don't aim for the best of everything at the beginning. You can forgo the expensive trimmings of an office of a more well-established company and stick to the basics at the beginning. Get what is affordable, works and is actually needed and don't buy frills.

Step 7 Put yourself in the shoes of potential investors.

  • Don't lose heart if you discover some, or even all, of your ideas have been adequately covered by the market. Don't ignore this reality; instead, work with it. Can you still do a better job or provide a better widget than your competitors? In many cases, it's likely that you can provided you know the market well and how to add value in ways your competitors are not doing. In other cases, it may be a case of focusing more narrowly or more broadly than your competitors are doing.

Step 8 Identify potential investors.

Structuring Your Business

Step 1 Define your company.

  • What will your product or service enable people to do better, more cheaply, more safely, or more efficiently? Will your restaurant make people’s palates delirious with new taste sensations? Will your new mousetrap help people capture mice without feeling sick to their stomachs? Will your new bubblegum scented bubble bath revolutionize the way children agree to take nightly baths?

Step 2 Choose a winning strategy.

  • Your competitive advantage may include designing special features not found in rival products. It may entail superior service characteristics such as speedier delivery, a lower price, or more attentive sales people––these are never to be sniffed at as possible winning ways, as many companies grow complacent and can be overtaken by giving customers experiences that are better than the average expectations. Even where your product or service is already well established, perhaps you’re establishing an image or brand of exceptional quality or reputation.

Step 3 Design your company.

  • Keep in mind that your initial plans will undoubtedly change as your business grows. You may need to hire more managers to supervise your expanding staff or to set up new departments to meet new customer demands. Projected growth and expansion for your company should be mentioned in your business plan, but it’s not the primary focus. For now, you want to secure help in getting started and convince your funding sources that you will become profitable.

Step 4 Consider the practical issues of running a business.

  • Investors will want to know if you’re capable of running the business. Do you need to bring in experienced managers right away? Will you keep some of the existing employees or hire all new people? And where do you find these potential employees?
  • Funding sources will also want to know if any of your partners expect to work alongside you or if their obligations are only financial. Your plan will need to specify the key management jobs and roles. Positions such as president, vice presidents, chief financial officer, and managers of departments will need to be defined along with stating who reports to whom.

Step 5 Decide on a marketing plan.

  • Consider how will you reach your customers. [14] X Research source What will you say to persuade and convince customers that your product or service is better value, more timely, more useful, etc. to the consumer than the rival product or service? If it currently has no rival, how will you properly explain the purpose of and the consumer's need for the product?
  • What advertising and promotional efforts will you employ? For example, two for the price of one specials or free coupons inside those same kid-oriented cereal boxes? Where can you locate lists of the greatest concentrations of children under the age of eight or whatever group constitutes your market?

Step 6 Build a dynamic sales effort.

  • What will your basic sales philosophy be? Building long-term relationships with a few major clients or developing a clientele of many short-term customers?

Writing the Business Plan

Step 1 Organize all the relevant information about your business.

  • Title Page and Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary , in which you summarize your vision for the company
  • General Company Description , in which you provide an overview of your company and the service it provides to its market
  • Products and Services , in which you describe, in detail, your unique product or service
  • Marketing Plan , in which you describe how you'll bring your product to its consumers
  • Operational Plan , in which you describe how the business will be operated on a day-to-day basis
  • Management and Organization , in which you describe the structure of your organization and the philosophy that governs it
  • Financial Plan , in which you illustrate your working model for finances and your need from investors
  • Sustainability Plan , in which you consider how your business's operations in the ecological, social, and economic context will create long-term value for society. [16] X Research source

Step 2 Write the executive summary last.

  • At first, do not worry about capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. All you need to worry about is putting your ideas down on paper. Once you have a general form, you can spend time proofreading your plan and correcting mistakes. Have someone else read over it for you and take heed of their comments.

Step 4 Sell yourself and your business.

  • The accuracy of your financial figures and projections is absolutely critical in convincing investors, loan sources, and partners that your business concept is worthy of support. The data must also be scrupulously honest and extremely clear.
  • Since banks and many other funding sources will compare your projections to industry averages in the R.M.A data, in the United States you can use the R.M.A figures to test your projections before the bank does.

Sample Business Plans

strategic business plan wiki

Expert Q&A

  • Many sources exist for finding information for your business plan. Your local library and the internet are always helpful sources. If you live near a university, you may be able to schedule an appointment with one of the college's professors. The professor may be able to give helpful insight. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
  • There are a few valuable online archives of business plans that feature companies which have successfully penetrated the market based on a well defined and executed business (and marketing) plan. Take the time to study the market through a successful company's eyes and consider what your company will offer that distinguishes your product or service from the rest. Be certain about what gives your business the competitive edge. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 0
  • Make sure you cite your information. This way you will have support for any statistics you put into your business plan. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0

strategic business plan wiki

  • Do not submit your draft business plan to potential investors! However, it is advisable to give the executive summary instead of the whole plan after it is completed. Sometimes, busy investors may not have the time to look at an entire plan, which can sometimes be up to 50 pages. Thanks Helpful 66 Not Helpful 13

You Might Also Like

Write a Business Plan for a Small Business

  • ↑ https://extension.psu.edu/developing-a-business-plan
  • ↑ https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ec/ec-735.pdf
  • ↑ https://sbdc.siu.edu/resources/writing-a-business-plan.php
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan
  • ↑ Keila Hill-Trawick, CPA. Certified Public Accountant. Expert Interview. 30 July 2020.
  • ↑ https://www.rmahq.org/who-we-are/
  • ↑ https://www.scu.edu/mobi/business-plans/
  • ↑ https://www.ofm.wa.gov/state-human-resources/workforce-data-planning/workforce-planning/introduction-workforce-planning
  • ↑ https://www.ictsd.org/how-should-sustainability-be-considered-in-a-business-plan/
  • ↑ https://www.investopedia.com/university/business-plan/business-plan7.asp

About This Article

Keila Hill-Trawick, CPA

To write a business plan, start with an executive summary that lays out your grand vision for your business. Follow that with a section that describes what products and services your company will offer. Then, write a marketing section where you detail how you're going to inform people about your business. You'll also want to include a section on your business model and how it will operate. Finally, conclude your business plan by letting investors know what you need from them. For help with doing research for your business plan, read the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to make a business plan

Strategic planning in Miro

Table of Contents

How to make a good business plan: step-by-step guide.

A business plan is a strategic roadmap used to navigate the challenging journey of entrepreneurship. It's the foundation upon which you build a successful business.

A well-crafted business plan can help you define your vision, clarify your goals, and identify potential problems before they arise.

But where do you start? How do you create a business plan that sets you up for success?

This article will explore the step-by-step process of creating a comprehensive business plan.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that outlines a business's objectives, strategies, and operational procedures. It typically includes the following information about a company:

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

A business plan serves as a roadmap for a company's success and provides a blueprint for its growth and development. It helps entrepreneurs and business owners organize their ideas, evaluate the feasibility, and identify potential challenges and opportunities.

As well as serving as a guide for business owners, a business plan can attract investors and secure funding. It demonstrates the company's understanding of the market, its ability to generate revenue and profits, and its strategy for managing risks and achieving success.

Business plan vs. business model canvas

A business plan may seem similar to a business model canvas, but each document serves a different purpose.

A business model canvas is a high-level overview that helps entrepreneurs and business owners quickly test and iterate their ideas. It is often a one-page document that briefly outlines the following:

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

On the other hand, a Business Plan Template provides a more in-depth analysis of a company's strategy and operations. It is typically a lengthy document and requires significant time and effort to develop.

A business model shouldn’t replace a business plan, and vice versa. Business owners should lay the foundations and visually capture the most important information with a Business Model Canvas Template . Because this is a fast and efficient way to communicate a business idea, a business model canvas is a good starting point before developing a more comprehensive business plan.

A business plan can aim to secure funding from investors or lenders, while a business model canvas communicates a business idea to potential customers or partners.

Why is a business plan important?

A business plan is crucial for any entrepreneur or business owner wanting to increase their chances of success.

Here are some of the many benefits of having a thorough business plan.

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

A business plan encourages you to think critically about your goals and objectives. Doing so lets you clearly understand what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.

A well-defined set of goals, objectives, and key results also provides a sense of direction and purpose, which helps keep business owners focused and motivated.

Guides decision-making

A business plan requires you to consider different scenarios and potential problems that may arise in your business. This awareness allows you to devise strategies to deal with these issues and avoid pitfalls.

With a clear plan, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions aligning with their overall business goals and objectives. This helps reduce the risk of making costly mistakes and ensures they make decisions with long-term success in mind.

Attracts investors and secures funding

Investors and lenders often require a business plan before considering investing in your business. A document that outlines the company's goals, objectives, and financial forecasts can help instill confidence in potential investors and lenders.

A well-written business plan demonstrates that you have thoroughly thought through your business idea and have a solid plan for success.

Identifies potential challenges and risks

A business plan requires entrepreneurs to consider potential challenges and risks that could impact their business. For example:

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

By identifying these potential challenges, entrepreneurs can develop strategies to mitigate risks and overcome challenges. This can reduce the likelihood of costly mistakes and ensure the business is well-positioned to take on any challenges.

Provides a basis for measuring success

A business plan serves as a framework for measuring success by providing clear goals and financial projections . Entrepreneurs can regularly refer to the original business plan as a benchmark to measure progress. By comparing the current business position to initial forecasts, business owners can answer questions such as:

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

If not, why not, and what do we need to do?

After assessing whether the business is meeting its objectives or falling short, business owners can adjust their strategies as needed.

How to make a business plan step by step

The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include.

1. Create an executive summary

Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

Keep your executive summary concise and clear with the Executive Summary Template . The simple design helps readers understand the crux of your business plan without reading the entire document.

2. Write your company description

Provide a detailed explanation of your company. Include information on what your company does, the mission statement, and your vision for the future.

Provide additional background information on the history of your company, the founders, and any notable achievements or milestones.

3. Conduct a market analysis

Conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry, competitors, and target market. This is best done with a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Next, identify your target market's needs, demographics, and behaviors.

Use the Competitive Analysis Template to brainstorm answers to simple questions like:

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

These questions should give you valuable insights into the current market and where your business stands.

4. Describe your products and services

Provide detailed information about your products and services. This includes pricing information, product features, and any unique selling points.

Use the Product/Market Fit Template to explain how your products meet the needs of your target market. Describe what sets them apart from the competition.

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

Outline how you plan to promote and sell your products. Your marketing strategy and sales strategy should include information about your:

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

The Go to Market Strategy Template is a great way to visually map how you plan to launch your product or service in a new or existing market.

6. Determine budget and financial projections

Document detailed information on your business’ finances. Describe the current financial position of the company and how you expect the finances to play out.

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

Define how your company is structured and who will be responsible for each aspect of the business. Use the Business Organizational Chart Template to visually map the company’s teams, roles, and hierarchy.

As well as the organization and management structure, discuss the legal structure of your business. Clarify whether your business is a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or LLC.

8. Make an action plan

At this point in your business plan, you’ve described what you’re aiming for. But how are you going to get there? The Action Plan Template describes the following steps to move your business plan forward. Outline the next steps you plan to take to bring your business plan to fruition.

Types of business plans

Several types of business plans cater to different purposes and stages of a company's lifecycle. Here are some of the most common types of business plans.

Startup business plan

A startup business plan is typically an entrepreneur's first business plan. This document helps entrepreneurs articulate their business idea when starting a new business.

Not sure how to make a business plan for a startup? It’s pretty similar to a regular business plan, except the primary purpose of a startup business plan is to convince investors to provide funding for the business. A startup business plan also outlines the potential target market, product/service offering, marketing plan, and financial projections.

Strategic business plan

A strategic business plan is a long-term plan that outlines a company's overall strategy, objectives, and tactics. This type of strategic plan focuses on the big picture and helps business owners set goals and priorities and measure progress.

The primary purpose of a strategic business plan is to provide direction and guidance to the company's management team and stakeholders. The plan typically covers a period of three to five years.

Operational business plan

An operational business plan is a detailed document that outlines the day-to-day operations of a business. It focuses on the specific activities and processes required to run the business, such as:

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

The primary purpose of an operational business plan is to ensure that the business runs efficiently and effectively. It helps business owners manage their resources, track their performance, and identify areas for improvement.

Growth-business plan

A growth-business plan is a strategic plan that outlines how a company plans to expand its business. It helps business owners identify new market opportunities and increase revenue and profitability. The primary purpose of a growth-business plan is to provide a roadmap for the company's expansion and growth.

The 3 Horizons of Growth Template is a great tool to identify new areas of growth. This framework categorizes growth opportunities into three categories: Horizon 1 (core business), Horizon 2 (emerging business), and Horizon 3 (potential business).

One-page business plan

A one-page business plan is a condensed version of a full business plan that focuses on the most critical aspects of a business. It’s a great tool for entrepreneurs who want to quickly communicate their business idea to potential investors, partners, or employees.

A one-page business plan typically includes sections such as business concept, value proposition, revenue streams, and cost structure.

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

A template can help you organize your thoughts and effectively communicate your business ideas and strategies. Starting with a template can also save you time and effort when formatting your plan.

Miro’s extensive library of customizable templates includes all the necessary sections for a comprehensive business plan. With our templates, you can confidently present your business plans to stakeholders and investors.

Be practical

Avoid overestimating revenue projections or underestimating expenses. Your business plan should be grounded in practical realities like your budget, resources, and capabilities.

Be specific

Provide as much detail as possible in your business plan. A specific plan is easier to execute because it provides clear guidance on what needs to be done and how. Without specific details, your plan may be too broad or vague, making it difficult to know where to start or how to measure success.

Be thorough with your research

Conduct thorough research to fully understand the market, your competitors, and your target audience . By conducting thorough research, you can identify potential risks and challenges your business may face and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Get input from others

It can be easy to become overly focused on your vision and ideas, leading to tunnel vision and a lack of objectivity. By seeking input from others, you can identify potential opportunities you may have overlooked.

Review and revise regularly

A business plan is a living document. You should update it regularly to reflect market, industry, and business changes. Set aside time for regular reviews and revisions to ensure your plan remains relevant and effective.

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

Starting or growing a business can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, a well-written business plan can make or break your business’ success.

The purpose of a business plan is more than just to secure funding and attract investors. It also serves as a roadmap for achieving your business goals and realizing your vision. With the right mindset, tools, and strategies, you can develop a visually appealing, persuasive business plan.

Ready to make an effective business plan that works for you? Check out our library of ready-made strategy and planning templates and chart your path to success.

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How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needi

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated May 7, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

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  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: 10 AI prompts you need to write a business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information to include in a business plan is sometimes not quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

There are plenty of great options available (we’ve rounded up our 8 favorites to streamline your search).

But, if you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template , you can get one right now; download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

Business model canvas: The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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Essential Guide to the Strategic Planning Process

By Joe Weller | April 3, 2019 (updated March 26, 2024)

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In this article, you’ll learn the basics of the strategic planning process and how a strategic plan guides you to achieving your organizational goals. Plus, find expert insight on getting the most out of your strategic planning.

Included on this page, you'll discover the importance of strategic planning , the steps of the strategic planning process , and the basic sections to include in your strategic plan .

What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is an organizational activity that aims to achieve a group’s goals. The process helps define a company’s objectives and investigates both internal and external happenings that might influence the organizational path. Strategic planning also helps identify adjustments that you might need to make to reach your goal. Strategic planning became popular in the 1960s because it helped companies set priorities and goals, strengthen operations, and establish agreement among managers about outcomes and results.

Strategic planning can occur over multiple years, and the process can vary in length, as can the final plan itself. Ideally, strategic planning should result in a document, a presentation, or a report that sets out a blueprint for the company’s progress.

By setting priorities, companies help ensure employees are working toward common and defined goals. It also aids in defining the direction an enterprise is heading, efficiently using resources to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. Based on the plan, managers can make decisions or allocate the resources necessary to pursue the strategy and minimize risks.

Strategic planning strengthens operations by getting input from people with differing opinions and building a consensus about the company’s direction. Along with focusing energy and resources, the strategic planning process allows people to develop a sense of ownership in the product they create.

John Bryson

“Strategic planning is not really one thing. It is really a set of concepts, procedures, tools, techniques, and practices that have to be adapted to specific contexts and purposes,” says Professor John M. Bryson, McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement . “Strategic planning is a prompt to foster strategic thinking, acting, and learning, and they all matter and they are all connected.”

What Strategic Planning Is Not

Strategic planning is not a to-do list for the short or long term — it is the basis of a business, its direction, and how it will get there.

“You have to think very strategically about strategic planning. It is more than just following steps,” Bryson explains. “You have to understand strategic planning is not some kind of magic solution to fixing issues. Don’t have unrealistic expectations.”

Strategic planning is also different from a business plan that focuses on a specific product, service, or program and short-term goals. Rather, strategic planning means looking at the big picture.

While they are related, it is important not to confuse strategic planning with strategic thinking, which is more about imagining and innovating in a way that helps a company. In contrast, strategic planning supports those thoughts and helps you figure out how to make them a reality.

Another part of strategic planning is tactical planning , which involves looking at short-term efforts to achieve longer-term goals.

Lastly, marketing plans are not the same as strategic plans. A marketing plan is more about introducing and delivering a service or product to the public instead of how to grow a business. For more about marketing plans and processes, read this article .

Strategic plans include information about finances, but they are different from financial planning , which involves different processes and people. Financial planning templates can help with that process.

Why Is Strategic Planning Important?

In today’s technological age, strategic plans provide businesses with a path forward. Strategic plans help companies thrive, not just survive — they provide a clear focus, which makes an organization more efficient and effective, thereby increasing productivity.

Stefan Hofmeyer

“You are not going to go very far if you don’t have a strategic plan. You need to be able to show where you are going,” says Stefan Hofmeyer, an experienced strategist and co-founder of Global PMI Partners . He lives in the startup-rich environment of northern California and says he often sees startups fail to get seed money because they do not have a strong plan for what they want to do and how they want to do it.

Getting team members on the same page (in both creating a strategic plan and executing the plan itself) can be beneficial for a company. Planners can find satisfaction in the process and unite around a common vision. In addition, you can build strong teams and bridge gaps between staff and management.

“You have to reach agreement about good ideas,” Bryson says. “A really good strategy has to meet a lot of criteria. It has to be technically workable, administratively feasible, politically acceptable, and legally, morally, and ethically defensible, and that is a pretty tough list.”

By discussing a company’s issues during the planning process, individuals can voice their opinions and provide information necessary to move the organization ahead — a form of problem solving as a group.

Strategic plans also provide a mechanism to measure success and progress toward goals, which keeps employees on the same page and helps them focus on the tasks at hand.

When Is the Time to Do Strategic Planning?

There is no perfect time to perform strategic planning. It depends entirely on the organization and the external environment that surrounds it. However, here are some suggestions about when to plan:

If your industry is changing rapidly

When an organization is launching

At the start of a new year or funding period

In preparation for a major new initiative

If regulations and laws in your industry are or will be changing

“It’s not like you do all of the thinking and planning, and then implement,” Bryson says. “A mistake people make is [believing] the thinking has to precede the acting and the learning.”

Even if you do not re-create the entire planning process often, it is important to periodically check your plan and make sure it is still working. If not, update it.

What Is the Strategic Planning Process?

Strategic planning is a process, and not an easy one. A key is to make sure you allow enough time to complete the process without rushing, but not take so much time that you lose momentum and focus. The process itself can be more important than the final document due to the information that comes out of the discussions with management, as well as lower-level workers.

Jim Stockmal

“There is not one favorite or perfect planning process,” says Jim Stockmal, president of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He explains that new techniques come out constantly, and consultants and experienced planners have their favorites. In an effort to standardize the practice and terms used in strategic planning, ASP has created two certification programs .

Level 1 is the Strategic Planning Professional (SPP) certification. It is designed for early- or mid-career planners who work in strategic planning. Level 2, the Strategic Management Professional (SMP) certification, is geared toward seasoned professionals or those who train others. Stockmal explains that ASP designed the certification programs to add structure to the otherwise amorphous profession.

The strategic planning process varies by the size of the organization and can be formal or informal, but there are constraints. For example, teams of all sizes and goals should build in many points along the way for feedback from key leaders — this helps the process stay on track.

Some elements of the process might have specific start and end points, while others are continuous. For example, there might not be one “aha” moment that suddenly makes things clear. Instead, a series of small moves could slowly shift the organization in the right direction.

“Don’t make it overly complex. Bring all of the stakeholders together for input and feedback,” Stockmal advises. “Always be doing a continuous environmental scan, and don’t be afraid to engage with stakeholders.”

Additionally, knowing your company culture is important. “You need to make it work for your organization,” he says.

There are many different ways to approach the strategic planning process. Below are three popular approaches:

Goals-Based Planning: This approach begins by looking at an organization’s mission and goals. From there, you work toward that mission, implement strategies necessary to achieve those goals, and assign roles and deadlines for reaching certain milestones.

Issues-Based Planning: In this approach, start by looking at issues the company is facing, then decide how to address them and what actions to take.

Organic Planning: This approach is more fluid and begins with defining mission and values, then outlining plans to achieve that vision while sticking to the values.

“The approach to strategic planning needs to be contingent upon the organization, its history, what it’s capable of doing, etc.,” Bryson explains. “There’s such a mistake to think there’s one approach.”

For more information on strategic planning, read about how to write a strategic plan and the different types of models you can use.

Who Participates in the Strategic Planning Process?

For work as crucial as strategic planning, it is necessary to get the right team together and include them from the beginning of the process. Try to include as many stakeholders as you can.

Below are suggestions on who to include:

Senior leadership

Strategic planners

Strategists

People who will be responsible for implementing the plan

People to identify gaps in the plan

Members of the board of directors

“There can be magic to strategic planning, but it’s not in any specific framework or anybody’s 10-step process,” Bryson explains. “The magic is getting key people together, getting them to focus on what’s important, and [getting] them to do something about it. That’s where the magic is.”

Hofmeyer recommends finding people within an organization who are not necessarily current leaders, but may be in the future. “Sometimes they just become obvious. Usually they show themselves to you, you don’t need to look for them. They’re motivated to participate,” he says. These future leaders are the ones who speak up at meetings or on other occasions, who put themselves out there even though it is not part of their job description.

At the beginning of the process, establish guidelines about who will be involved and what will be expected of them. Everyone involved must be willing to cooperate and collaborate. If there is a question about whether or not to include anyone, it is usually better to bring on extra people than to leave someone out, only to discover later they should have been a part of the process all along. Not everyone will be involved the entire time; people will come and go during different phases.

Often, an outside facilitator or consultant can be an asset to a strategic planning committee. It is sometimes difficult for managers and other employees to sit back and discuss what they need to accomplish as a company and how they need to do it without considering other factors. As objective observers, outside help can often offer insight that may escape insiders.

Hofmeyer says sometimes bosses have blinders on that keep them from seeing what is happening around them, which allows them to ignore potential conflicts. “People often have their own agendas of where they want to go, and if they are not aligned, it is difficult to build a strategic plan. An outsider perspective can really take you out of your bubble and tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear [but should]. We get into a rhythm, and it’s really hard to step out of that, so bringing in outside people can help bring in new views and aspects of your business.”

An outside consultant can also help naysayers take the process more seriously because they know the company is investing money in the efforts, Hofmeyer adds.

No matter who is involved in the planning process, make sure at least one person serves as an administrator and documents all planning committee actions.

What Is in a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan communicates goals and what it takes to achieve them. The plan sometimes begins with a high-level view, then becomes more specific. Since strategic plans are more guidebooks than rulebooks, they don’t have to be bureaucratic and rigid. There is no perfect plan; however, it needs to be realistic.

There are many sections in a strategic plan, and the length of the final document or presentation will vary. The names people use for the sections differ, but the general ideas behind them are similar: Simply make sure you and your team agree on the terms you will use and what each means.

One-Page Strategic Planning Template

“I’m a big fan of getting a strategy onto one sheet of paper. It’s a strategic plan in a nutshell, and it provides a clear line of sight,” Stockmal advises.

You can use the template below to consolidate all your strategic ideas into a succinct, one-page strategic plan. Doing so provides you with a high-level overview of your strategic initiatives that you can place on your website, distribute to stakeholders, and refer to internally. More extensive details about implementation, capacity, and other concerns can go into an expanded document.

One Page Strategic Planning Template

Download One-Page Strategic Planning Template Excel | Word | Smartsheet

The most important part of the strategic plan is the executive summary, which contains the highlights of the plan. Although it appears at the beginning of the plan, it should be written last, after you have done all your research.

Of writing the executive summary, Stockmal says, “I find it much easier to extract and cut and edit than to do it first.”

For help with creating executive summaries, see these templates .

Other parts of a strategic plan can include the following:

Description: A description of the company or organization.

Vision Statement: A bold or inspirational statement about where you want your company to be in the future.

Mission Statement: In this section, describe what you do today, your audience, and your approach as you work toward your vision.

Core Values: In this section, list the beliefs and behaviors that will enable you to achieve your mission and, eventually, your vision.

Goals: Provide a few statements of how you will achieve your vision over the long term.

Objectives: Each long-term goal should have a few one-year objectives that advance the plan. Make objectives SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, and time-based) to get the most out of them.

Budget and Operating Plans: Highlight resources you will need and how you will implement them.

Monitoring and Evaluation: In this section, describe how you will check your progress and determine when you achieve your goals.

One of the first steps in creating a strategic plan is to perform both an internal and external analysis of the company’s environment. Internally, look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the personal values of those who will implement your plan (managers, executives, board members). Externally, examine threats and opportunities within the industry and any broad societal expectations that might exist.

You can perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to sum up where you are currently and what you should focus on to help you achieve your future goals. Strengths shows you what you do well, weaknesses point out obstacles that could keep you from achieving your objectives, opportunities highlight where you can grow, and threats pinpoint external factors that could be obstacles in your way.

You can find more information about performing a SWOT analysis and free templates in this article . Another analysis technique, STEEPLE (social, technological, economic, environmental, political, legal, and ethical), often accompanies a SWOT analysis.

Basics of Strategic Planning

How you navigate the strategic planning process will vary. Several tools and techniques are available, and your choice depends on your company’s leadership, culture, environment, and size, as well as the expertise of the planners.

All include similar sections in the final plan, but the ways of driving those results differ. Some tools are goals-based, while others are issues- or scenario-based. Some rely on a more organic or rigid process.

Hofmeyer summarizes what goes into strategic planning:

Understand the stakeholders and involve them from the beginning.

Agree on a vision.

Hold successful meetings and sessions.

Summarize and present the plan to stakeholders.

Identify and check metrics.

Make periodic adjustments.

Items That Go into Strategic Planning

Strategic planning contains inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. Inputs and activities are elements that are internal to the company, while outputs and outcomes are external.

Remember, there are many different names for the sections of strategic plans. The key is to agree what terms you will use and define them for everyone involved.

Inputs are important because it is impossible to know where you are going until you know what is around you where you are now.

Companies need to gather data from a variety of sources to get a clear look at the competitive environment and the opportunities and risks within that environment. You can think of it like a competitive intelligence program.

Data should come from the following sources:

Interviews with executives

A review of documents about the competition or market that are publicly available

Primary research by visiting or observing competitors

Studies of your industry

The values of key stakeholders

This information often goes into writing an organization’s vision and mission statements.

Activities are the meetings and other communications that need to happen during the strategic planning process to help everyone understand the competition that surrounds the organization.

It is important both to understand the competitive environment and your company’s response to it. This is where everyone looks at and responds to the data gathered from the inputs.

The strategic planning process produces outputs. Outputs can be as basic as the strategic planning document itself. The documentation and communications that describe your organization’s strategy, as well as financial statements and budgets, can also be outputs.

The implementation of the strategic plan produces outcomes (distinct from outputs). The outcomes determine the success or failure of the strategic plan by measuring how close they are to the goals and vision you outline in your plan.

It is important to understand there will be unplanned and unintended outcomes, too. How you learn from and adapt to these changes influence the success of the strategic plan.

During the planning process, decide how you will measure both the successes and failures of different parts of the strategic plan.

Sharing, Evaluating, and Monitoring the Progress of a Strategic Plan

After companies go through a lengthy strategic planning process, it is important that the plan does not sit and collect dust. Share, evaluate, and monitor the plan to assess how you are doing and make any necessary updates.

“[Some] leaders think that once they have their strategy, it’s up to someone else to execute it. That’s a mistake I see,” Stockmal says.

The process begins with distributing and communicating the plan. Decide who will get a copy of the plan and how those people will tell others about it. Will you have a meeting to kick off the implementation? How will you specify who will do what and when? Clearly communicate the roles people will have.

“Before you communicate the plan [to everyone], you need to have the commitment of stakeholders,” Hofmeyer recommends. Have the stakeholders be a part of announcing the plan to everyone — this keeps them accountable because workers will associate them with the strategy. “That applies pressure to the stakeholders to actually do the work.”

Once the team begins implementation, it’s necessary to have benchmarks to help measure your successes against the plan’s objectives. Sometimes, having smaller action plans within the larger plan can help keep the work on track.

During the planning process, you should have decided how you will measure success. Now, figure out how and when you will document progress. Keep an eye out for gaps between the vision and its implementation — a big gap could be a sign that you are deviating from the plan.

Tools are available to assist with tracking performance of strategic plans, including several types of software. “For some organizations, a spreadsheet is enough, but you are going to manually enter the data, so someone needs to be responsible for that,” Stockmal recommends.

Remember: strategic plans are not written in stone. Some deviation will be necessary, and when it happens, it’s important to understand why it occurred and how the change might impact the company's vision and goals.

Deviation from the plan does not mean failure, reminds Hofmeyer. Instead, understanding what transpired is the key. “Things happen, [and] you should always be on the lookout for that. I’m a firm believer in continuous improvement,” he says. Explain to stakeholders why a change is taking place. “There’s always a sense of re-evaluation, but do it methodically.”

Build in a schedule to review and amend the plan as necessary; this can help keep companies on track.

What Is Strategic Management?

Strategic planning is part of strategic management, and it involves the activities that make the strategic plan a reality. Essentially, strategic management is getting from the starting point to the goal effectively and efficiently using the ongoing activities and processes that a company takes on in order to keep in line with its mission, vision, and strategic plan.

“[Strategic management] closes the gap between the plan and executing the strategy,” Stockmal of ASP says. Strategic management is part of a larger planning process that includes budgeting, forecasting, capital allocation, and more.

There is no right or wrong way to do strategic management — only guidelines. The basic phases are preparing for strategic planning, creating the strategic plan, and implementing that plan.

No matter how you manage your plan, it’s key to allow the strategic plan to evolve and grow as necessary, due to both the internal and external factors.

“We get caught up in all of the day-to-day issues,” Stockmal explains, adding that people do not often leave enough time for implementing the plan and making progress. That’s what strategic management implores: doing things that are in the plan and not letting the plan sit on a shelf.

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Strategic Planning Should Be a Strategic Exercise

  • Graham Kenny

Don’t create a plan. Create a system.

Many managers complain that strategy-making often reduces to an operational action plan that resembles the last one.  To prevent that from happening they need to remember that strategy is about creating a system whereby a company’s stakeholders interact to create a sustainable advantage for the company.  Strategic planning is how the company designs that system, which is very different from an operational action plan in that it is never a static to-do list but constantly evolves as strategy makers acquire more insights into how their system of stakeholders can create value.

Over the years I’ve facilitated many strategic planning workshops for business, government, and not-for-profit organizations. We reflect on recent changes and future trends and consider how to engage with them for corporate success.

strategic business plan wiki

  • Graham Kenny is the CEO of Strategic Factors and author of Strategy Discovery . He is a recognized expert in strategy and performance measurement who helps managers, executives, and boards create successful organizations in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. He has been a professor of management in universities in the U.S. and Canada.

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  • What is strategic planning? A 5-step gu ...

What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

Julia Martins contributor headshot

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. In this article, we'll guide you through the strategic planning process, including why it's important, the benefits and best practices, and five steps to get you from beginning to end.

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. The strategic planning process informs your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals.

Strategic planning helps you clearly define your company’s long-term objectives—and maps how your short-term goals and work will help you achieve them. This, in turn, gives you a clear sense of where your organization is going and allows you to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. Think of it this way—if your goals and objectives are your destination on a map, your strategic plan is your navigation system.

In this article, we walk you through the 5-step strategic planning process and show you how to get started developing your own strategic plan.

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What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization’s mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives. The product of the planning cycle is a strategic plan, which is shared throughout the company.

What is a strategic plan?

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

A strategic plan is the end result of the strategic planning process. At its most basic, it’s a tool used to define your organization’s goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them.

Typically, your strategic plan should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your organizational goals, including your long-term goals and short-term, yearly objectives

Any plan of action, tactics, or approaches you plan to take to meet those goals

What are the benefits of strategic planning?

Strategic planning can help with goal setting and decision-making by allowing you to map out how your company will move toward your organization’s vision and mission statements in the next three to five years. Let’s circle back to our map metaphor. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Build a strong organizational culture by clearly defining and aligning on your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Align everyone around a shared purpose and ensure all departments and teams are working toward a common objective.

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go and achieve desired outcomes.

Promote a long-term vision for your company rather than focusing primarily on short-term gains.

Ensure resources are allocated around the most high-impact priorities.

Define long-term goals and set shorter-term goals to support them.

Assess your current situation and identify any opportunities—or threats—allowing your organization to mitigate potential risks.

Create a proactive business culture that enables your organization to respond more swiftly to emerging market changes and opportunities.

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process involves a structured methodology that guides the organization from vision to implementation. The strategic planning process starts with assembling a small, dedicated team of key strategic planners—typically five to 10 members—who will form the strategic planning, or management, committee. This team is responsible for gathering crucial information, guiding the development of the plan, and overseeing strategy execution.

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the planning process. 

Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment

Before you can define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders, like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future.

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services.

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether about the product, business practices, or the day-to-day company culture.

Consider different types of strategic planning tools and analytical techniques to gather this information, such as:

A balanced scorecard to help you evaluate four major elements of a business: learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 

Weaknesses:

What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 

Opportunities:

What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your company’s goals and objectives

To begin strategy development, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your vision, mission, and current position to identify and define your goals—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” “What’s the ideal future state of this company?” This can help you figure out which path you need to take to get there.

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents, such as:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose.

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision.

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company.

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market.

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years.

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in.

Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and determine performance metrics

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Take your current business position and strategy into account, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives, and build out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your plan should be created or revisited as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable. These KPIs will help you track progress and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Implement and share your plan

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Strategy implementation involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to the strategic plan, so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and the overall strategy map. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management platform .  

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process, to ensure all team members understand the strategic plan and how to implement it effectively. 

Define what “success” looks like by mapping your strategic plan to key performance indicators.

Ensure that the actions outlined in the strategic plan are integrated into the daily operations of the organization, so that every team member's daily activities are aligned with the broader strategic objectives.

Utilize tools and software—like a work management platform—that can aid in implementing and tracking the progress of your plan.

Regularly monitor and share the progress of the strategic plan with the entire organization, to keep everyone informed and reinforce the importance of the plan.

Establish regular check-ins to monitor the progress of your strategic plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

Once you’ve created and implemented your new strategic framework, the final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Remember, your strategic plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to revisit and update the plan if your company changes directions or makes new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan. Make sure to review your plan regularly—meaning quarterly and annually—to ensure it’s still aligned with your organization’s vision and goals.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever, even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

Build a smarter strategic plan with a work management platform

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

A work management platform plays a pivotal role in this process. It acts as a central hub for your strategic plan, ensuring that every task and project is directly tied to your broader company goals. This alignment is crucial for visibility and coordination, allowing team members to see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s success. 

By leveraging such a platform, you not only streamline workflow and enhance team productivity but also align every action with your strategic objectives—allowing teams to drive greater impact and helping your company move toward goals more effectively. 

Strategic planning FAQs

Still have questions about strategic planning? We have answers.

Why do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics that will help your company be successful.

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed.

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What is a strategic planning template?

A strategic planning template is a tool organizations can use to map out their strategic plan and track progress. Typically, a strategic planning template houses all the components needed to build out a strategic plan, including your company’s vision and mission statements, information from any competitive analyses or SWOT assessments, and relevant KPIs.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. business plan?

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, you should create a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements?

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose.

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose.

A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. company objectives?

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a business case?

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a project plan?

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

What’s the difference between strategic management vs. strategic planning?

A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives.

Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you will achieve your big-picture goals, strategic management also helps you organize your resources and figure out the best action plans for success. 

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Business Strategy/Business Plans

Though business plans have many different presentation formats, business plans typically cover five major content areas:

  • Background information
  • A marketing plan
  • An operational plan
  • A financial plan
  • A discussion of the decision-making criteria that should be used to approve the plan.

Some of these content areas may be more or less important depending on the kind of business plan. There is no fixed content for a business plan. Rather the content and format of the business plan is determined by the goals and audience. A business plan should contain whatever information is needed to decide whether or not to pursue a goal.

Once a business plan has been developed, the key decision making points are usually summarized in an #Executive Summary|executive summary.

  • 1 Executive Summary
  • 2.1 Mission Statement and business model
  • 2.2 Current Status
  • 2.3 History
  • 2.4 Management Team
  • 3.1 Pricing
  • 3.2 Demand Management
  • 3.3 Distribution
  • 3.4 Promotion and Brand Development
  • 4.1 Research and Development Plan
  • 4.2 Manufacturing/Deployment Plan
  • 4.3 Information and Communications Technology Plan
  • 4.4.1 Staffing Needs
  • 4.4.2 Union Issues
  • 4.4.3 Training Requirements
  • 4.4.4 Hiring Time Table
  • 4.4.5 Staffing Budget
  • 4.5 Business Process Outsourcing Plan
  • 4.6.1 Intellectual Property Plan
  • 4.6.2 Acquisition Plan
  • 4.6.3 Organizational Learning Plan
  • 4.7 Cost Allocation Model
  • 5.1 Current Financing
  • 5.2 Funding Needs
  • 5.3 Funding Plan
  • 5.4 Financial History
  • 5.5 Financial Forecasts
  • 5.6 Valuation
  • 6.1 Risk Evaluation
  • 6.2 Risk Management Plan
  • 7 Decision Making Criteria

Executive Summary [ edit | edit source ]

The executive summary summarizes the key points of the business plan. It should define the decision to be made and the reasons for approval. The specific content will be highly dependent on the core purpose and target audience. To get a sense of the difference the purpose and target audience can make, here are three different sets of key points for an executive summary - one for a loan request, one for a start-up seeking venture finance, and one for an internal plan. Items unique to a particular kind of plan are highlighted in bold:

A loan request executive summary might contain the following information [ citation needed ] :

  • Company information: name of company, years in business , legal structure, minority and majority owners
  • Brief description of project
  • Amount and length of loan
  • Financial track record
  • The future revenue stream
  • Any contracts in place that might guarantee the revenue stream is more than just a forecast.

For a new venture, the executive summary might contain:

  • Company information: name of company, proposed legal structure , current legal structure, minority and majority investors.
  • Amount of investment requested
  • Expected terminal value
  • Description of market opportunity
  • Objective reasons why the market opportunity can be exploited by this particular team

For an internal project plan, the executive summary might look like this [ citation needed ] :

  • Company information: not applicable
  • Description of project
  • Project mandate: who requested the proposal, who is being assigned to carry it out
  • Strategic , tactical and financial justifications
  • Summary of resources needed: staff , funds, facilities

In some cases information will overlap. For example, some of the reasons why a loan is likely to be repaid might equally as well be used as justification for the kind of extraordinary return expected by venture capitalists.

In some cases the business plan as a whole contains similar information, but for one type of plan it is mere detail and for another it is a key decision making factor. For instance, both start-ups and internal projects need staff and facilities. However the staffing and facilities needs are considered details in a plan for start-up financing. In a plan for internal projects they are key elements and, in fact, may be the only resources needed.

Organizational Background [ edit | edit source ]

In a written plan information may appear in a separate section, an appendix, or may be omitted all together depending on the nature of the plan. If the plan is directed at people outside of the company, a brief synopsis may appear in the executive summary. This will be supplemented with a more detailed discussion elsewhere in the plan.

Mission Statement and business model [ edit | edit source ]

To create a quality, online learning experience for students through an interactive learning environment. - As an example.

For a commercial organization, the business model sums up also how the business or project will satisfy customers and bring profitability

Current Status [ edit | edit source ]

  • Number of Employees
  • Annual sales figures
  • Key product lines
  • Location of facilities
  • Current stage of development (start-ups)
  • Sole proprietors
  • Partnership
  • Joint Venture
  • Publicly traded corporation
  • Corporation|Private corporation
  • Limited liability company
  • Public utility
  • Non-profit organization
  • Names of the majority investor, if any

History [ edit | edit source ]

  • Founding date
  • Major successes
  • Strategically valuable learning experiences

Management Team [ edit | edit source ]

  • Board members
  • Senior managers
  • Managing partners
  • Head scientists and researchers

Marketing Plan [ edit | edit source ]

The marketing plan has five objectives: If the product is a new product with no existing market, one must identify all substitute products. For each significant substitute product one must explain:

  • Name, features, why substitute, why proposed product better
  • Switching costs and why new product justifies switching
  • Expected adoption dynamics
  • Expected role once market begins to develop (see above for existing products)

Pricing [ edit | edit source ]

  • Chosen price points
  • Proposed Pricing|Pricing strategy
  • How much is the product being sold
  • Is the price good or bad for the product

Demand Management [ edit | edit source ]

In economics, Demand management|demand management is the art or science of controlling economic demand to avoid a recession. The term is also used to refer to management of the distribution of, and access to goods and services on the basis of needs. An example is social security and welfare services. Rather than increasing budgets for these things, governments may develop policies that allocate existing resources according a hierarchy of need.

Distribution [ edit | edit source ]

  • Distribution (business)|Distribution strategy
  • List of major distributors
  • Current status of negotiations

Promotion and Brand Development [ edit | edit source ]

  • Promotion (marketing)|Promotion strategy

Operational Plan [ edit | edit source ]

The plan outlines how we will service our clients cost effectively

Research and Development Plan [ edit | edit source ]

Manufacturing/deployment plan [ edit | edit source ].

  • Supply chain requirements
  • Production inputs
  • Facility requirements - size, layout, capacity, location
  • Equipment requirements
  • Space requirements

Information and Communications Technology Plan [ edit | edit source ]

  • Operations: Billing, HR, SCM, CRM, Knowledge bases, etc.
  • Websites: internal, public
  • Security and privacy requirements
  • Hardware requirements
  • Off-the-shelf software needed
  • Custom development requirements

Staffing Plan [ edit | edit source ]

Staffing needs [ edit | edit source ].

  • List of roles
  • Management structure
  • Number of employees
  • Proposed compensation
  • Availability

Union Issues [ edit | edit source ]

Training requirements [ edit | edit source ], hiring time table [ edit | edit source ], staffing budget [ edit | edit source ], business process outsourcing plan [ edit | edit source ], asset development plan [ edit | edit source ], intellectual property plan [ edit | edit source ].

  • Intellectual property inventory
  • Portfolio development plan

Acquisition Plan [ edit | edit source ]

Some business plans gain competitive advantage by buying companies up and down the value chain. Some gain competitive advantage by buying up companies and consolidating them. Sometimes a business plan will seek to earn a superior return by adding superior management talent to an existing weak company.

For more information see Mergers and Acquisitions.

When acquisitions form a major part of the business strategy, the acquisition plan needs to be included in the business plan.

  • Acquisition strategy
  • Proposed acquisition targets
  • Effect on market structure (if consolidation plan is being proposed)

Also, some acquisition plan will explain the basis of appointing the Liquidator of the acquisition procedures

Organizational Learning Plan [ edit | edit source ]

The organizational learning plan discusses what lessons will be learned from the marketing, operational, and finance plans and how those lessons will be consolidated to gain strategic advantage.

  • Market sensing - organization's method for collecting information about customers (George Day)
  • Strategic Staircase - the accumulation of future competencies by building on existing competencies. (Michael Hays, Costas Markides)

Cost Allocation Model [ edit | edit source ]

If variable costs play an important role in the business plan, it may be helpful to include a cost allocation model. This is particularly true if one has a unique business model that creates competitive advantage by transforming traditionally fixed costs into variable costs [ citation needed ] .

  • Variable costs

Financial Plan [ edit | edit source ]

For more information, see Financial plan.

Current Financing [ edit | edit source ]

  • Key investors or owners
  • Angels, friends, and family
  • Terms, obligations

Funding Needs [ edit | edit source ]

Funding plan [ edit | edit source ], financial history [ edit | edit source ], financial forecasts [ edit | edit source ].

  • Balance sheet
  • Income statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • For loans, repayment period determines length of projections, i.e. a six month loan doesn't need seven year forecasts
  • For investments point at which returns stabilize (terminal value) determines length of forecast
  • Annual, quarterly, and monthly versions should be provided
  • Graphs of key values often helpful: gross revenue, EBITDA, NPV, etc.
  • Financial portions of the marketing, asset development, and operations are often placed in this section rather than in the section discussing the plan. They are viewed as elaboration on the various line items in the pro-formas.

Valuation [ edit | edit source ]

Risk analysis [ edit | edit source ].

For more information, see risk analysis.

Risk Evaluation [ edit | edit source ]

  • Ease of entry
  • Potential threat to market share- advertising companies
  • Slower than expected adoption
  • Operational risks
  • Availability of skilled workforce- x-pharma reps, x-equipment reps
  • Union issues
  • Liabilities
  • Poorly worded investor contracts at risk for litigation
  • Investor pull-out
  • Lack of follow-on funding to complete project
  • Poor board or investor dynamics
  • Agency risk particular to the venture

Risk Management Plan [ edit | edit source ]

Detailed plans are more often found as part of internal plans. Plans written for funders may need to include a high level of description if there are significant controllable risks.

  • Methods and procedures to limit liabilities
  • Reserve funds
  • Continuity of operations plan

Decision Making Criteria [ edit | edit source ]

  • Break even analysis
  • Balanced Scorecard

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Global expansion strategies: how to take your business to new markets successfully.

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Jason Miller helps influential brands and celebrities create generational wealth with their businesses | CEO, Strategic Advisor Board .

If you’re an entrepreneur who’s ready to take your business ventures from domestic to global, read on to learn about how to research, create financial and strategic plans, and use marketing to get to global success. These are some of the steps I used when breaking into markets with my company, Strategic Advisor Board.

The obvious reason to go global is with access to more people, you will most likely experience revenue growth. But one of the biggest reasons I recommend doing this is due to risk diversification by not relying solely on one market for your business revenue; this is important because of ongoing changes to the economy. According to research, "shareholders do, in fact, reward companies who grow faster outside of the U.S ."

Expanding to new markets can lead to economies of scale and lower production costs due to bulk purchasing and more streamlined production. Your business could also have access to new talent and resources which could lead to more innovation and creativity as well as tapping into local raw materials. Here is how to do it:

Research & Adaptation

I would argue that this is the most important part of the process and maybe the most in-depth of expanding globally because so much of what you find out determines if it’s a smart company decision to make the move. Research your new market to determine whether your product/service will perform well there but also find out tax and regulatory info. You may be exempt from certain taxes if you open your business to new borders.

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Find out if you have a target market in the new area you’re looking at, and if they’d be receptive to your products/services. Make sure you take into account the different cultural aspects that could affect the marketability of your product. Do research on any competitors in the area and figure out what your unique selling proposition is. All this information you’ve gathered will help with making your decision.

Financial Planning

Before you can decide to expand, you need to see if you can afford it. Before creating any sort of budget, find out all the costs associated with expanding. Start with looking at the operational expenses such as infrastructure for office or warehouse spaces and supply chain costs. Supply chain costs can include storage of inventory, or transportation costs of your products to and from manufacturing centers to stores or directly to clients.

Find out if any tariffs or customs fees would affect the profitability of your product. You may want to insure your goods, so look into the costs of doing that as well as how much you should put aside for contingency funds to have on hand for any unforeseen expansion costs.

Strategic Planning

In this part of the process, you will create a roadmap starting with defining clear objectives for your expansion. Then developing a strategy that consists of how to enter the market, including looking into joint ventures, mergers, franchising or partnerships.

Your strategic plan also needs to include adaptive planning. This means you’re flexible in your plan so you can accommodate any unforeseen changes, difficulties or challenges that may occur in the marketplace. Since markets are dynamic and continuously shift, it’s important your strategies adjust as well to include any changing political, economic or cultural conditions. Include these factors in the risk management portion of the plan. Also, include a timeline with realistic expectations of short-term and long-term goals.

Marketing & Talent Management

The marketing strategy you’ve been using domestically may not work globally. It’s a skill to be able to build a consistent brand image while making sure you’re connecting with and being respectful of local market preferences.

One of the best things about having a business operating on a global scale is access to top talent. Hiring the correct talent that goes with your brand’s values and mission is important across all your business locations. That being said, HR policies may be different from domestic HR laws in the workplace. Look into getting work visa support if you need employees to work on international projects.

Global expansion isn’t easy and there’s a lot to consider, but if you’re willing to accept the challenge, there are certain strategies to help you achieve success. Extensive research is the most important to start with. Understand what the new market potential will be like, and find out what the taxes and culture look like. Evaluate how receptive your product will be to locals and what makes it unique. Financial planning is crucial in the early stages and you should assess everything from operational and supply chain costs to insuring your goods. Strategic planning is the roadmap to follow and should include clear objectives, a comprehensive entry strategy, timelines, and adaptive planning. The last steps include using marketing that sits well with locals and hiring top talent to help with the transition. Expanding your company isn’t easy, but if you do your research and plan accordingly, you’ll be on the right track to global success.

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New B2B Strategic Marketing Audit & Planning Service Is Now Available

Holistic marketing plan service to deliver sustainable, double-digit revenue growth for small and mid-sized businesses

Chicago, IL, United States - May 21, 2024 —

strategic business plan wiki

The Marketing Problem: Lack of Results

B2B companies prefer to work with marketing agencies that have a B2B focus, experience in their industry, and an effective process for rapidly understanding their business and the problems they solve for their customers.

With the majority of agencies founded by creatives who are good at developing brand identity strategies and design, there is often little focus or expertise around formulating comprehensive marketing strategies that generate results for B2B companies.

Some marketing agencies offer plans that are really just design proposals in disguise. Marketing strategies that deliver sustainable, double-digit growth can’t be developed over a handful of sales calls.

That’s why Innovaxis developed the Strategic Marketing Audit & Planning Service for B2B companies and nonprofits: to serve as deep-dive, marketing due diligence needed for the development of a marketing strategy that will generate results.

“We developed the B2B Strategic Marketing Audit & Plan to make growing your business much faster and easier,” says Innovaxis president and co-founder, Sean Parnell. Too many companies have only known an opportunistic approach that amounts to “random acts of marketing,” he said.

“Throwing a lot of spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks can be an expensive and ineffective marketing strategy. Our service is a way to position our clients to benefit from everything we can provide, including market research, product development, and product management experience.”

Two Key Elements

Instead of the typical marketing agency focus on creative strategy and design, Innovaxis uses a strategy-first approach to generate results for clients.

It begins with the strategic marketing audit, which identifies what’s not working and how to fix it, what’s working but could be improved, and what’s missing from the effort that could make a significant impact on lead generation and sales.

The audit includes a scorecard of how a company is doing across 16 key marketing activities—including the strength of brand storytelling , content marketing , search engine optimization (SEO) , Google Ads and other pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, email marketing, PR, social media, marketing automation, and more. This is followed by a deep dive into the main website and other primary marketing activities.

The second key element is the strategic marketing plan, which takes recommendations from the audit and applies them over a three-year period with estimated costs and impact on revenues. The strategic marketing plan typically includes a SWOT assessment and recommended content that will generate leads, among other analysis and recommendations.

More details about the B2B Strategic Marketing Audit & Planning Service are located here .

Timing & Pricing

The strategic marketing audit and planning effort is conducted over 3-5 weeks and results in a report of 20+ pages that includes an executive summary, detailed findings, recommendations, and the overall plan for generating results.

Pricing starts at $5,000. Additional services can be commissioned separately, including the analysis of secondary websites, market research interviews with customers, channel partners, end-users and prospects, and marketing audits of competitors.

Implementation of the strategic marketing plan is conducted as part of a customized Innovaxis B2B Marketing Program , with options formulated following development of the plan.

Request a Strategic Marketing Audit & Plan Consultation

Contact Innovaxis to schedule a time to discuss whether this service is right for you. An example of what your strategic marketing audit and plan would look like can be shared with you on a call.

“Double-digit growth for this year and beyond starts with a marketing audit and plan today,” says Parnell.

About Innovaxis Marketing

B2B business owners and marketing leaders who want marketing to drive sustainable, double-digit revenue growth rely on Innovaxis. Let Innovaxis help you articulate your value to more of the people you serve by fully leveraging marketing strategy, brand storytelling, agency services, and marketing automation. Innovaxis will partner with you to increase your thought leadership, demand generation, and customer acquisition – often starting with a marketing audit and followed by the execution of a marketing program customized for your organization. Innovaxis custom marketing programs typically generate an ROI of 300%+ within the first 12-18 months – Innovaxis only grows if you grow.

About the company: About Innovaxis Marketing B2B business owners and marketing leaders that want marketing to drive sustainable, double-digit revenue growth rely on Innovaxis. Let Innovaxis help you articulate your value to more of the people you serve by fully leveraging marketing strategy, brand storytelling, agency services, and marketing automation. Innovaxis will partner with you to increase your thought leadership, demand generation, and customer acquisition – often starting with a marketing audit and followed by the execution of a marketing program customized for your organization. Innovaxis custom marketing programs typically generate an ROI of 300%+ within the first 12-18 months – Innovaxis only grows if you grow.

Contact Info: Name: Sean Parnell Email: Send Email Organization: Innovaxis Marketing Address: 4043 N. Ravenswood Ave., Suite 318, Chicago, IL 60613 Phone: 7736542421 Website: https://www.innovaxisinc.com

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Business | New Greater Baltimore Committee plan calls for…

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Business | New Greater Baltimore Committee plan calls for ‘sea change’ to boost economic opportunity

Greater Baltimore Committee President & CEO Mark Anthony Thomas unveils a 10-year strategic plan during GBC's annual meeting at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point on Thursday night. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

A new 10-year strategic plan, unveiled Thursday evening, sets out to do that. The plan calls for a “sea change” in what it describes as a lack of urgency in attracting business and nurturing entrepreneurs,

The plan, the first big project Thomas took on after becoming GBC’s president and CEO in December 2022, sets priorities to guide private and public investment and regional collaborations that can spark transformational change over a decade. The GBC presented its ideas during its annual meeting Thursday evening, a networking event with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and entertainers in a cavernous warehouse at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point.

The blueprint seeks to position the region’s people, businesses and amenities as a globally recognizable and competitive brand. It stresses the need for Baltimore and six surrounding counties to collaborate in order to better compete.

And it suggests narrowing the focus of future growth to three specific industries: life sciences and predictive technologies, logistics and light manufacturing; and creativity and culture.

The idea, Thomas said in an interview, is to “drive GBC’s work and help the broader market, internationally and domestically, understand here’s what we’re doing as a body of partners that will grow jobs, really amplify our economic opportunity and tackle some of the key challenges where the private sector can lean in.”

Gov. Wes Moore kicked off the GBC’s annual event Thursday, saying the business community’s involvement will be key to making the plan’s ideas reality.

“If we’re serious about building the kind of city and the kind of region that those who came before us hoped for and those who come after us deserve, it means that every single one of us needs to have our fingerprints on the blueprint,” Moore said.

The blueprint lays out three key areas of economic development.

  • Industry and innovation: The plan recommends improving the Baltimore region’s culture of entrepreneurship and supporting a broader diversity of people to participate, ensuring that more research gets translated into new products and firms, and developing sites and transportation infrastructure to attract national and international investors.
  • Place and community: Goals include investing in existing and emerging areas of concentrated economic activity as well as local communities with potential and need by having individual jurisdictions take more regional approaches.
  • Talent and people: The plan aims to tackle labor supply and demand challenges by better aligning labor skills with employer needs and addressing barriers faced by marginalized communities.

“The plan is meant to be ambitious at a global level and put the region on the global stage,” said Jennifer Vey, a former Brookings Institution senior fellow who became the GBC’s executive vice president of policy & research in September.

It calls for a shift in approach for a region that has relied historically upon institutional and public sector resources, so much so that the GBC says Baltimore has lost a sense of urgency in courting prospective businesses and workers and developing an entrepreneurial culture.

“The region needs a sea change to signal to local, national, and international investors that it is ready for transformative, private sector-led growth,” the plan says. “Changing the narrative will require ambition and a long-term commitment from businesses, political leaders, developers, educators, workforce providers, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and others.”

The region must do more to boost its science and technology entrepreneurial ecosystem, the plan says. Despite heavy investments in research and development and strong institutional anchors, the region has underperformed the nation and its peers in bringing scientific discoveries from the lab to market.

The region has been restricted by limited industrial real estate needed to support the export economy, even with key logistical assets such as the Port of Baltimore and BWI Marshall Airport.

And the area has had difficulty coordinating outreach efforts and joining forces to take advantage of “game changing” opportunities. A stronger GBC, with the help of the Maryland Department of Commerce and county economic development organizations, can work to change that, the plan says.

Other challenges include an underperforming real estate market. The region’s construction rates are lower than those in competing regions in office, industrial, retail and multifamily housing, which has led to a continued loss of corporate leaders and skilled workers to faster-growing regions in the South and West.

And though the region’s economy has been generally stable, opportunity for advancement has been uneven based on race and location, with many Black residents living in areas of Baltimore with greater poverty, the report says. Inequities extend to transportation, with low-income people of color — the region’s largest group of transit riders — often subject to longer than average commute times because of lack of access.

Thomas said he expects the GBC to continue expanding its role beyond advocacy and policy work to include leadership on initiatives such as the region’s federal designation last year as a national tech hub, and the group’s involvement in Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s $3 billion plan to attack the city’s thousands of vacant properties.

“Those types of opportunities are things as we build the organization up that we’re well positioned to convene and make happen for the region,” Thomas said.

The plan also looked at the changing geography of economic activity, which no longer necessarily flows from a dense central business district into decentralized development but instead includes “multiple nodes of activity.” The blueprint calls for supporting clusters of economic activity in specific areas to foster more efficient transit systems, greater collaboration among entrepreneurs and more walkable access to shops and amenities.

It identifies several priority areas for long-range growth by reinvesting in existing hubs and re-imagining underused properties. Among those mentioned are the Tradepoint Atlantic logistics hub in Sparrows Point in Baltimore County, Baltimore city’s downtown entertainment district, Columbia Gateway and downtown Columbia in Howard County, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, and National Business Park in Anne Arundel County.

GBC created the plan with the help of TIP Strategies, an Austin, Texas-based consulting firm, that gathered input and analyzed data during an 11-month process overseen by a 34-member steering committee. GBC eventually will establish a way to follow progress, Vey said.

“If we do things well, we should be seeing more recruitment and expansion for the region, we should be seeing more entrepreneurship, starting, growing, staying here,” Vey said. “We should be seeing more economic mobility. We should see that investment in regionally significant activity centers.”

Greater Baltimore Committee President & CEO Mark Anthony Thomas unveils...

Greater Baltimore Committee President & CEO Mark Anthony Thomas unveils 10-year strategic plan during its annual meeting at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

Gov. Wes Moore speaks during Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual meeting...

Gov. Wes Moore speaks during Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual meeting at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

Performing artist entertains guest during Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual meeting...

Performing artist entertains guest during Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual meeting at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

Performing artist entertains guests during Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual meeting...

Performing artist entertains guests during Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual meeting at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

Greater Baltimore Committee President & CEO Mark Anthony Thomas unveils...

Greater Baltimore Committee President & CEO Mark Anthony Thomas unveils a 10-year strategic plan during GBC's annual meeting at Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point on Thursday night. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

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Strategic Business Unit

  • 1 What is a Strategic Business Unit?
  • 2 Strategic Business Unit Structure
  • 3 Creating A Strategic Business Unit
  • 4 Strategic Business Unit - Commonalities and Success Factors
  • 5 Strategic Business Unit Analysis - The GE Matrix
  • 6 Strategic Business Unit Vs. Division
  • 7 Strategic Business Unit - Advantages and Disadvantages
  • 9 References
  • 10 Further Reading

What is a Strategic Business Unit?

A Strategic Business Unit (SBU) is a separate, specialised subsystem in the company which acts as an independent company. Having SBU assists organisations to plan their strategies and make manufacturing decisions. A Strategic Business Unit (SBU) is a basic organisational unit for which it is meaningful to formulate a separate competitive strategy (Grant, 2002). Typically the SBU is a business providing a single product or a number of closely related products that serve a well-defined product-market combination and compete with a well-defined set of competitors. "SBUs operate as autonomous units, and have the primary responsibility and authority for managing their basic functions (Johnson et al., 2008)." [1]

A strategic business unit or SBU operates as an independent entity, but it has to report directly to the headquarters of the organisation about the status of its operation. It operates independently and is focused on a target market. It is big enough to have its own support functions such as HR, training departments etc. There are several benefits of having an SBU. This principle works best for organisations which have multiple product structure. The best example of SBU are companies like Proctor and Gamble, LG etc. These companies have different product categories under one roof. For example, LG as a company makes consumer durables. It makes refrigerators, washing machines, air-conditioners as well as televisions. These small units are formed as separate SBUs so that revenues, costs as well as profits can be tracked independently. Once a unit is given an SBU status, it can make its own decisions, investments, budgets etc. It will be quick to react when the product market takes a shift or changes start happening before the shift happens [2]

Strategic Business Unit Structure

How is an SBU structured [3] The structure of SBU consist of operating units; wherein the units serve as an autonomous business. The top corporate officer assigns the responsibility of the business to the managers, for the regular operations and business unit strategy. So, the corporate officer is accountable for the formulation and implementation of the comprehensive strategy and administers the SBU by way of strategic and financial controls.

In this way, the structure combines related divisions of business into the strategic business unit and the senior executive is empowered for taking decisions for each unit. The senior executive works under the supervision of a chief executive officer.

There are three levels in a strategic business unit, wherein the corporate headquarters remain at the top, SBU’s in the middle and divisions clustered by similarity, within each SBU, remain at the bottom. Hence, the divisions within the SBU are associated with each other, and the SBU groups are independent of each other. From the strategic viewpoint, each SBU is an independent business.

A single strategic business unit is considered as a profit centre and governed by the corporate officers. It stresses over strategic planning instead of operational control so that the separate divisions of the SBU can respond as fast as they can, to the changing business environment.

Strategic Business Unit Structure

Creating A Strategic Business Unit

How to Create a Strategic Business Unit [4] Creating a strategic business unit enables companies to pursue new businesses, products, markets, and technologies, without the constraints of working within a large organization. The business unit has a dedicated management team, a unique brand, different goals than the parent organization, and often a different physical space. It benefits from the advantages of a startup, such as an autonomous team, but isn’t strapped for resources like most startups are. And it benefits from the advantages of a large company, such as an established brand and customer base, but can sidestep the challenges faced by large companies, such as excessive bureaucracy.

In order to, create a business unit that builds successful products, you need to get a few things right: the organizational structure, hiring, culture, and compensation.

  • Organizational structure: “Move fast and break things” has long been the mantra of Silicon Valley startups. These startups are always testing new ideas and iterating quickly based on customer feedback. “Breaking things” is an inevitable part of this process. In other words, many of your ideas are likely to fail. In “Incubation is Product Management,” Jeremiah Zinn, Chief Product Officer at Bark & Co., said that his team doesn’t ultimately pursue about 80% of their ideas. Separating the business unit from the rest of the organization gives the team room to experiment – and break things – without being stifled by process and brand concerns.
  • Hiring: Building a new business is different than operating an existing business. People who excel at operating existing businesses may struggle at starting a new business, and vice verse. In “Building Human Machines is Product Management,” Tommi Forsström, VP of Product at Shutterstock, shared his approach to hiring, and how hiring helps him instill strong culture. During job interviews, Tommi asks questions that help him understand a candidate’s long-term goals, and works to help the candidates he hires to achieve those goals. This has been a helpful strategy for Tommi to keep his team motivated. Hire people who want to build a business from the ground up and work effectively in an environment of uncertainty and experimentation.
  • Culture: If you walk into a startup’s office, you’re likely to find a ping pong table and a keg of beer. While it’s easy to understand why employees would appreciate such perks, Lina Stern, Head of Employee Experience and Organizational Design at LearnVest, said that in order to truly create a culture that keeps employees motivated to innovate, you need to do more. “People want to feel valued for the contributions they make to the organization,” she said. Lina recommends personalizing your approach to employee experience according to the values of the company and what will help each individual employee work most effectively. So, if your developers do their best work at night, Lina believes it’s ok for them to stroll into the office at 11 am. These practices, along with encouraging employees to test ideas and learn from them, help create the right environment for new product development.
  • Incentives: The reward for starting a successful company as an entrepreneur is obvious: wealth and fame. Unfortunately, large corporations can’t always offer stock or other significant financial incentives. Fortunately, they don’t need to. According to Bob Dorf, Author of The Startup Owner’s Manual, employees are often motivated by career upside. They want to be recognized for their work and grow within the company. Both Bob and Aaron Eden, a former innovation leader at Intuit, recommended giving the team exposure to senior leadership to keep them motivated. Give your business unit opportunity to present progress to senior leadership at the parent company, and invite senior leadership to join brainstorming sessions.

Strategic Business Unit - Commonalities and Success Factors

Commonalities and Success Factors of SBU [5] A SBU is generally defined by what it has in common, as well as the traditional aspects defined by McKinsey: separate competitors; and a profitability bottom line. Four commonalities include:

  • Revenue SBU
  • Like Marketing Cost SBU
  • Like Operations/HR Profit SBU
  • Like sales judged on net sales not gross

There are three factors that are generally seen as determining the success of an SBU:

  • the degree of autonomy given to each SBU manager.
  • the degree to which an SBU shares functional programs and facilities with other SBUs.
  • the manner in which the corporation handles new changes in the market.

Strategic Business Unit

Strategic Business Unit Analysis - The GE Matrix

The GE Model of SBU Analysis [6] Companies adopting the GE model must be able to define each strategic business unit’s strengths in terms of them being strong or weak. Next, companies must be able to define their business unit’s uniqueness in terms of it being high or low. In some examples, the aforementioned uniqueness range is defined as being between high attractiveness and low attractiveness.

Businesses that are strong performers are ones with strong business strengths and high industry uniqueness values. Businesses that are average performers fall in the middle range, while poor business units have weak business strengths and low industry uniqueness. The entire model is depicted below.

GE Model of SBU Analysis

The GE framework is based on using nine boxes within the grid, and then using nine different strategies for an individual business unit, depending upon which box that business unit falls under. When you've identified your specific business strength and industry uniqueness characteristics, you would then provide individual grades for each variable within each category. Afterwards, you would see where each business falls on the grid.

For a corporation of GE's size, it isn't uncommon to have dozens of business units all over the matrix. This is ultimately why having nine different strategies corresponding to each box is so important. Ultimately, a high number of business units implies that there should be multiple strategies to plan for any position on the grid.

This ultimately requires a substantial investment of time and resources, the likes of which most companies simply don’t have. This makes the model an extremely time consuming and involved affair. However, instead of dialing into the nine specific strategies, we’ll define individual strategies for our three strategic business unit designations. In essence, we'll simplify the analysis so that we can analyze three simple strategies for a successful business unit, an average business unit and a poor performing business unit. We'll use our aforementioned grading rule or score value of 1 to 5.

SBU Successful (scores between 4 and 5): In this case, a successful business unit is one that has "strong" business strengths and "high" industry uniqueness. Defend your position as the market leader. Focus your efforts on what is working and stay the course. Be cognizant of competition as they may try emulating your business unit and its strategies. Protect your business strengths and continually strive to improve upon them.

SBU Average (scores between 3 and 4): This is a business unit with average business strengths and average industry uniqueness. Isolate low grades and corresponding variables. Identify unique strategies to improve those lower grades. Define what is lacking and what ultimately needs to improve. Accentuate strengths and mitigate the impact of the weaknesses within the business.

SBU Poor (scores below 3): This is a strategic business unit that has "weak" business strengths and "low" industry uniqueness. Define the poor performance of this particular SBU. In some cases, it may simply be a short-term issue, one that will easily rebound once customer demand picks up. Before making any decisions on the future of this business unit, start first by defining the current conditions. However, if this has been a going concern for some time, then it’s likely time to abandon the business altogether.

Strategic Business Unit Vs. Division

The Difference Between a Strategic Business Unit & a Division [7] Large, diversified companies organize themselves into divisions to break the management of the company into smaller, organizationally cohesive parts. The company headquarters still gives the divisions strategic direction. Strategic Business Units, or SBUs, are organizationally complete and separate units that develop their own strategic direction. They still report back to company headquarters but operate as independent businesses organized according to their target markets. They are often large enough to have their own internal organizational divisions.

For a company to implement the SBU approach means adopting a completely different management style and company orientation. Divisions in a company reflect how the company's business can best be carried out. Divisions develop from analyses of the company's operations while SBUs must be set up to respond to the realities of the external market. Instead of looking at and analyzing themselves, companies must analyze markets. The main difference is that divisions are internally focused while SBUs look outward.

The creation of SBUs highlights the differences in strategic direction from a divisional organization. Trying to develop an overall strategy for the direction of a diversified company is difficult and means that particular strategic elements are never quite right for all the divisions. A division may often receive directions that are unclear or not completely applicable. Once a company sets up SBUs, they develop their own strategies. They analyze their competitive position in their market, they develop products that respond to the needs of their customers and they evaluate their performance. Divisions generally do not carry out such tasks.

It is difficult for companies organized along divisional lines to identify which activities create the most value and which should be abandoned. This is especially true of companies where the divisions are functional, such as those with operating, sales and service divisions. While divisions may have profit centers, decisions on where to best allocate resources are often not easy. For companies organized along SBU lines, such decisions are easier and result in a more efficient use of resources. It is clear when an SBU is active in a growing or stagnant market and whether it is a market leader. SBUs that are leaders in growing markets are assigned additional resources while those that lag in stagnant markets are shut down so that the company as a whole operates more efficiently.

Strategic Business Unit - Advantages and Disadvantages

Understanding the Advantages and Disadvantages of SBU [8]

Advantages of strategic business units

The main advantages are:

  • SBU supports cooperation between the departments of the company which has a similar range of activities,
  • improvement of strategic management,
  • improvement of accounting operations,
  • easier planning of activities.

Disadvantages of strategic business units

  • difficulty with contact with higher level of management,
  • may cause of internal tension due to difficult access to internal and external sources of funding,
  • may be the cause of the unclear situation with regard to the management activities.

A Strategic Business Unit (SBU) is a semi-autonomous unit within an organization that focuses on a specific product line, market segment, or geographic region, operating with its own mission, objectives, resources, and strategies. SBUs are created to ensure that the unit's specific market focus receives the attention and resources necessary to achieve its strategic goals, often with their own profit and loss responsibility. Understanding SBUs involves exploring their formation, management, and strategic importance within larger corporations. To gain a comprehensive understanding of Strategic Business Units and their role in organizational strategy and structure, consider exploring the following related topics:

  • Corporate Strategy is the overall scope and direction of a corporation and the way in which its various business operations work together to achieve particular goals. Understanding how SBUs fit into the broader corporate strategy is crucial.
  • Business-Level Strategy : Focuses on how to compete in a given business to obtain a competitive advantage. This is directly relevant to the operation of SBUs, as each unit must develop its own competitive strategies within the overarching corporate framework.
  • Organizational Structure : The system that outlines how certain activities are directed to achieve the organizational goals. SBUs often lead to a more decentralized organizational structure, allowing for quicker decision-making and adaptation to local market conditions.
  • Market Segmentation : The process of dividing a broad consumer or business market, normally consisting of existing and potential customers, into sub-groups of consumers based on some type of shared characteristics. This underpins the rationale for creating SBUs to address specific segments effectively.
  • Product Line Management: The administration of a particular line of products considered a single business unit within a larger corporate context. SBUs often align with specific product lines, requiring specialized management practices.
  • Performance Measurement and Evaluation: Involves the selection and use of quantitative and qualitative metrics to assess the effectiveness of an SBU in achieving its objectives. This includes financial metrics like ROI (Return on Investment), as well as non-financial metrics.
  • Resource Allocation is the process of distributing an organization's resources across various operations; in this context, it refers to how resources are allocated to different SBUs to optimize corporate performance.
  • Strategic Planning Process: The steps a company takes to develop strategies and allocate resources to achieve its goals. Understanding how strategic planning is conducted within SBUs is key to their success.
  • Competitive Analysis : Analyzing the market and competitive environment to inform the strategic positioning and actions of the SBU.
  • Innovation and Product Development: How SBUs approach the development of new products or improvements to meet market demands and stay competitive.
  • Global Strategy and International Markets: For multinational corporations, the strategic considerations for SBUs operating in different geographic markets, including localization strategies and global integration.
  • Change Management : The methods and practices involved in guiding an organization through growth, market changes, or internal restructuring. SBUs often necessitate organizational change to remain aligned with corporate strategy.

Exploring these topics provides a broad perspective on Strategic Business Units, highlighting their strategic significance in allowing companies to efficiently manage diverse product lines or market segments and respond agilely to competitive challenges and market opportunities.

  • ↑ Defining Strategic Business Unit KB Manage
  • ↑ What is Strategic Business Unit (SBU) Economic Times
  • ↑ The Structure of Strategic Business Unit Business Jargons
  • ↑ How to Create a Strategic Business Unit This is Product Management
  • ↑ Commonalities and Success Factors of SBU Wikipedia
  • ↑ The GE Model of SBU Analysis driveyoursuccess.com
  • ↑ The Difference Between a Strategic Business Unit & a Division Chron
  • ↑ What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Strategic Business Unit? CEOPedia

Further Reading

  • SBU Concept of Business Structure and Management CA. O. P. Jagati
  • Prioritizing strategic business units in the face of innovation performance: Combining fuzzy AHP and BSC Behrooz Noori
  • Adoption of strategic business unit system and associated organizational changes for April 2004 Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd.
  • Governance of Diversified Strategic Business Units: the Case of a Large Chinese Chemical Company JIAO Jinsong
  • SBU Strategies, Corporate-SBU Relations, and SBU Effectiveness in Strategy Implementation Anil K. Gupta
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Explainer: What to expect as US moves towards faster stock settlement

U.S. markets are set for an upheaval on Tuesday, May 28, when the settlement time for U.S. equities, corporate municipal bonds and other securities will be halved to one day, or T+1, following the adoption of a new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule in February 2023.

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$532 million committed to National Battery Strategy, but no plan yet on how to reclaim supply chain

EV battery being removed

More than half a billion dollars of federal government funds have been set aside to encourage production of batteries in Australia, but exactly how the scheme will work has not yet been figured out.

A new National Battery Strategy has been released, aiming to make the country a globally competitive battery maker for domestic use and as an export opportunity.

It is part of the government's Future Made in Australia policy, which aims to grasp the economic opportunities of the global transition to net zero emissions, as well as ensuring China does not control the supply chain.

The centrepiece of the strategy is $532 million in financial incentives for the production of batteries. Announced in the budget earlier this month, the funding would be spread over seven years and administered by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

But the scheme, dubbed "Battery Breakthrough", has not yet been formulated, despite funding due to commence in the coming financial year.

"The government will work closely with industry and other stakeholders to design, develop and deliver the Battery Breakthrough," the strategy reads.

From 'dig and ship' to 'renewable energy superpower'

The National Battery Strategy focuses on areas the federal government sees Australia having a competitive advantage, including turning raw minerals into substances used in the global electric vehicle supply chain.

The other areas of focus are large-scale energy storage for the electricity grid, building batteries for industrial uses and developing technical and safety standards.

In a statement, Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic said Australia could become a "renewable energy superpower" by "moving beyond a 'dig and ship' economy".

"It's inexcusable that we supply half the global supply of lithium but produce less than one per cent of the world's processed battery components," he said.

"Australia is a pioneer of battery tech, yet for too long we've sent our ideas offshore and lost the good jobs they create.

"The global clean energy transition is happening — and we've got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australia to create more well-paid, secure jobs."

A reddish rock sits on a larger, similar rock.

There is also potential for households to benefit from more batteries being made locally.

In 2023, 3.7 million homes in Australia had rooftop solar, but only 250,000 had batteries.

The National Battery Strategy suggests the new funding will mean "Australian manufacturers can meet the growing demand for stationary energy [and] provide more choice to consumers".

The 'one country' controlling the global battery supply chain

While the National Battery Strategy does not mention China directly, it notes that "one country" dominates global processing and manufacturing of batteries.

From small vehicle-based batteries to large-scale industrial batteries, "supply chains are highly concentrated, with more than 75 per cent of supply coming from one country", the strategy reads.

"As this market evolves, it's important to ensure Australia builds sovereign capabilities where it is a necessary and efficient way to strengthen Australian economic resilience or security," the strategy reads.

"Building this industry now will ensure Australia can develop and access the newest battery technologies, securing the economy and helping protect against potential market shocks."

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Other nations are also moving to build up or protect their own battery-making capacity from China's dominance.

The United States introduced manufacturing tax credits for batteries and related components as part of its Inflation Reduction Act in 2022.

Last week, the US went further, raising tariffs on lithium-ion batteries and related parts from 7.5 per cent to 25 per cent.

Tariffs of 25 per cent were also announced for a range of critical minerals, graphite and permanent magnets.

The Future Made in Australia policy has similar aims to the US's Inflation Reduction Act, with battery production central to both schemes.

"We want to make more things here and with global demand for batteries set to quadruple by 2030, Australia must be a player in this field," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a statement.

"Batteries are a critical ingredient in Australia's clean energy mix. Together with renewable energy, green hydrogen, and critical minerals, we will meet Australia's emission reduction targets and create a strong clean energy manufacturing industry."

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  12. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

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  13. Strategic Planning Should Be a Strategic Exercise

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  25. Strategic Business Unit

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  26. Japan and ASEAN plan joint strategy on auto production, Nikkei reports

    Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plan to create their first joint strategy on automobile production and sales within the Southeast Asian bloc to counter China's ...

  27. $532 million committed to National Battery Strategy, but no plan yet on

    There is also potential for households to benefit from more batteries being made locally. In 2023, 3.7 million homes in Australia had rooftop solar, but only 250,000 had batteries.