Have you heard this before: “It’s much less expensive to learn from others’ mistakes”?
Are you using your savings, emergency fund, and second mortgage to leverage your business’ growth? Then take heed of free lessons from business people who are now so-much-more wiser. Learning from others maximizes the odds of achieving your ultimate business goals and minimize the risk of business failure. Here are 10 of the most common pitfalls in creating a strategic plan:
Disconnection from customer.
We miss a vital link when we prioritize our products and/or services before we consider the needs of our customers and their vision of success. Think of it this way: you’re a drill bit manufacturer. Your customers don’t go to the hardware store to buy a ¾” drill bit because they want the drill bit… they want a ¾” hole. The drill bit is just a means to and end. We must understand the ultimate result our customer is expecting and provide the product or service to address their need.
Attachment to tradition.
“This is the way we’ve always done it,” are words from an organization on its way to being obsolete. Values remain constant, but a strategy that doesn’t adapt based on a changing marketplace will lose relevancy and effectiveness. ” If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”—Albert Einstein.
There may be hundreds of businesses in your market who do the same thing you do. Without elevating your business’s unique offerings and process through your strategic plan, your business will continue to compete in the commodity space. This is where exposed pricing, longer selling cycles, margin pressures and lower profitability rules. The end result is competing on price and risking your business’ survival.
Lack of buy-on from the team.
When a team has a plan simply thrust onto it with no context, it creates confusion, resentment, a lack of understanding. There is little clarity to unify them in achieving a common set of goals. Successful businesses reap the rewards of a strategic plan because their entire team is involved and aligned in the creation and implementation of the vision and goals.
Unrealistic goals or lack of focus and resources.
An aggressive plan is one thing. Setting goals without respect to human and financial resource realities can cripple a business because of the lack of capital, sales, talent, and data. The best way to set goals is fewer and focused, rather than numerous and nebulous.
Missing the boat on critical issues.
Strategic plans are only as strong as the data they are built upon. If plans are based on wrong assumptions due to insufficient or misunderstood data, the roadmap is bound towards disaster from the start.
The other end of missing the boat on critical issues is waiting to put a plan into action before it’s “perfect.” The beauty of good strategy is that it is flexible enough to make adjustments. Don’t let fear stop you from starting!
Having a plan simply for plan’s sake.
Some organizations go through the motions and the investment of developing a plan, because common sense says they should. Then, the document ends up on the shelf or on a company’s shared folder. It’s never looked at again. A strategic plan is a living document and should be reviewed continually. Unlike a fine wine, strategic plans do not have a good shelf life.
Not having the right people involved.
Management must be willing to make the tough decisions to ensure the right individuals are in the right leadership and execution positions. The “right” individuals include those who will advocate for and champion the strategic plan and keep the company on track.
Breakdown at the top.
High-level ideas without an implementation plan stop at the concept stage. It’s even more dangerous when leadership conceptualizes a plan that is poorly communicated or misaligned with the stated values of the organization. And all too often, “lip service” from leaders regarding commitment to what is important and valued deteriorates credibility and trust among a team and customers.
BONUS! Assuming one-size-fits-all.
There are workbooks and downloadable templates to kick start a strategic plan. Know that just like your business, a strategic plan is developed and designed for the specific needs and vision of an individual business. One size does NOT fit all. Cookie cutter approaches are nothing more than an annual goal setting or budget process. They lack the thorough analysis (discussed in Five Keys to Creating a Well-Executed Strategic Plan ).
Seek advice from consultants who take a personalized approach and work to understand your business prior. Of course we welcome the opportunity to partner with you through a proven, research-based process to create a solid strategy to accelerate your success! Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .