Spend any time with Mark Daniels, and you’ll quickly learn he loves business strategy. In fact, his eyes light up when he talks about helping a company grow. And as Dave’s executive director for strategic planning and project portfolio management, that’s a super good thing.
So we decided to take advantage of Mark’s passion for planning and asked him to share some tips with you about taking your company to the next level. Mark says a simple way to get started is to ask yourself these three basic questions to help lay the foundation for your strategy. Here are Mark’s top queries.
- Where are you today?
Before making any decision on where you want to take your business, you need to assess where you are today, says Mark. To start, write down:
- What’s working and not working
- Which goals you’ve hit and which ones you’ve missed
- Areas where you were realistic and places where you were overly optimistic
Once you complete your list, the next step is to ask yourself why you progressed in some areas and bombed in others. Begin by taking an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Also consider what opportunities you see for your company as well as any potential threats. And finally, think about the environment in which your business operates: What external trends do you see happening that will affect your business, like customers, competition and political and regulatory issues. You’re trying to find out what’s going on in your business that’s driving its performance.
- Where are you headed?
As an EntreLeader, “where are you headed?” may be the single most important question you’ll ask yourself all year. Like Dave says, “With no vision in your organization, you perish. You can’t make payroll, your ‘team’ becomes just ‘employees,’ morale goes down, turnover goes up, and sales go down.”
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Once your vision is clarified, make a list of mid- and long-term objectives for the next three to five years. For example, you want $5 million in revenue in year three. “The key here is that you need to be clear what you are aiming at,” Mark says. “These targets for tomorrow, along with the perspective of where you are today, provide you the proper context for the next step.”
- How do you get there?
You know where you need to be going; now how do you get there? Create a game plan that is specifically geared to get you from where you are today to where you want to be in the future, says Mark. List what you need to start doing, what you should continue to do, and what you need to stop—as well as any obstacles you may face. Once you figure these out, start setting your goals. Remember, for goals to work, they must be:
Once your goals are set, make an action plan that aligns with your goals. What’s an action plan? It’s simply a written list of who does what by when. Follow that by repeatedly communicating your vision and plans to your team to get them on board too.
Creating a strategy for your company is no day at the amusement park. It takes time, a lot of thought, and a lot of patience. But once it’s complete, it will become a compass that points straight toward success. Get ready for the ride.
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