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The Importance of Live Strategic Documentation

There is a benefit from making a Business Plan that is greatly diminished if you are just jumping through a hoop and that plan is thrown into a drawer that you’ll never open again. The same goes for a Strategic Marketing Plan, an Electronic Marketing Plan and your Financial Budget, if they get pushed into that same drawer. What most small businesses fail to consider is the competitive advantage of keeping these as a live strategic business tool.

Strategic Documents are about Planning not to Fail

I know it’s tedious to create strategic documents – Business Plan, Strategic Marketing Plan, Electronic Marketing Plan and a Financial Budget. And there isn’t a small business owner who does not cringe at the idea these might need to be opened and and rewritten. I get that; they are tedious and painful to make in the first place. If they’re made at all – only 3-5 per cent of small businesses even make a business plan. Especially if they’re made honestly and critically. An awful lot of business owners just make rubbish up and call that a plan and that’s self-serving assurance that the task was completed.

The question to ask yourself is why do we make these documents in the first place? The answer is because they are about scoping out the business environment that you want to operate in and understanding as much about your competitors, your operations and the customers as possible. While, of course, understanding that you can’t control most of these things. Understanding, as well, that the more you know about the environment enables you to effectively compete and sustain your success.

Strategic Documents are an Integrated Tool

You need a Business Plan that realistically identifies what, where, when, how and why. It’s better to fail in the business plan than lose $20,000 on a flawed idea. You need a Strategic Marketing Plan to identify your customer segment, to figure out how you will touch them, why they might want to give you money and where you will invest your marketing dollars. Customers come at an acquisition cost. Are your Marketing P’s all aligned – product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning and people? You need an Electronic Marketing Plan (if you have a web presence) that is a part of your greater Integrated Marketing Strategy. And you need a Financial Budget so you can manage short and long term loans, leverage wealth, predict future expenditure and better plan the business strategies in the other documents.

Finally, all of your plans need SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. A strategic plan is only strategic if you can achieve it, measure success and failure, and do that within a given time-frame. Monitor, measure, refine – rinse and repeat.

Live Strategic Documents are the Turbo Version

Here’s the bit that is really important – these documents should never live ignored in a drawer carrying dust. They should be looked over regularly and added to and taken away from as required.

If a new competitor enters your market it should go into your documentation. If a relevant law changes, the financial sector enters a recession, or there are training programs or government grants that become available. Simply, the environment your business operates in changes and, like a boxer, if you can duck and weave with better information then you may well out-live your competitors. Or, at the least, have a larger share of the available money pie from the market.

This means your Financial Budget is no longer static and you can adjust in real time to changes that weren’t relevant six or ten months earlier. It means your strategies are being measured and adjusted on a continual basis. It means you can pull all of that information into a concerted effort to succeed.

Here’s the simple truth about being in business. In Australia, a new small business is created every 100 seconds. More than 60 per cent of small businesses close within the first three years. And 99 per cent are gone by the 10 year mark. If you do not think you have to plan strategically and better compete in the modern globalised market, your days as a business owner are numbered. It’s hard graft, true. But it’s part of the job you signed up to do.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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