As founder and director of MyBudget, Tammy Barton knows a thing or two about what it takes to create a strategic plan for a business. Here she shares her top 5 tips.
The start of the calendar year is a time when many businesses take a step back and attempt a strategic plan for the year ahead. Some treat this process with great seriousness, others push it down the priority list, while many – particularly small businesses – avoid strategic planning altogether because today’s to-do list is already overwhelming. Trust me, I can relate.
MyBudget now employees over 240 people nationally and strategic planning has been essential in getting us to this point. The bigger we get, the more important it becomes. However, we take pride in staying true to the origins of our company; we started small, we exist to help people and we want our staff to feel invested in our mission. Our strategic plans need to fit with MyBudget’s culture and inspire our team to action.
Having tested most things over the years, we’ve learned that simple is often best. Here are five rules we now follow to get the most out of strategic planning and ensure it has the desired impact on our business.
Develop data-driven goals (but not too many)
At MyBudget we avoid long, complex planning documents that few people read.
We believe the best strategies start with data. We look at what the numbers tell us about our business – everything from profit to people – and how we can improve. We identify what is urgent and what is a ‘good idea, but not a priority’, and use this information as the foundation for our game plan.
By the end of the strategic planning process, we walk away with a handful of tangible goals we know we can stick to and achieve.
Keep an eye on the big picture
While annual planning provides a focus for the coming year and should be tactical, it is important that your plan contains a sense of the big picture. MyBudget’s strategic plan looks at 90-day, one-year and five-year time frames. Our annual strategic planning process occurs in December but every quarter we have a follow-up session to review our KPIs, report on how we’re tracking and, where needed, make adjustments so we don’t lose sight of where we are heading. Don’t invest time in ‘set and forget’ strategies; maintain agility and a connection to the long-term.
Select the KPIs that matter to you
Before starting strategic planning, I would encourage every business leader to spend considerable time understanding which KPIs impact their business the most. Our top KPIs measure how happy our clients are with our service. Among other metrics, we currently have a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 74, which ranks our customer service as world class. Just as there are no one-size-fits-all strategic plans in business, there’s no universal set of KPIs. Ensure your strategy outlines measurements and KPIs that reflect your goals and your unique business.
At MyBudget, we pride ourselves on living our values and delivering our brand promise. It is common for us to talk in general conversation about making a difference in our clients’ lives, being caring and supporting our clients’ best financial interest.
Strategic planning must focus as much on purpose as on dollar goals, because a workforce with a strong sense of purpose will deliver a stronger bottom line. Ensure your strategic plan reiterates your purpose and values (if you don’t know what they are, start your plan here). Everything tactical should stem from this.
That said, your purpose and resulting strategy must be sufficiently resourced in order to be realised. MyBudget’s strategic planning ties into our financial model and budgets. We find that binding our operational budget to the strategic plan allows us to prioritise and plan our spending accordingly. We then review every month to ensure we’re on track.
Bring your team on the journey
A strategy is only as good as the people implementing it. After completing a strategy document, we ‘sell’ it to staff by running a series of presentations, including question-and-answer sessions so we can incorporate feedback along the way. By the end of those sessions, every staff member, from frontline customer care to back-of-house support, understands how their contribution impacts the plan. Every quarter we condense the strategic plan and KPI review into a video presentation. The lesson here is that your strategic plan may start out as a document, but there are other methods to communicate it—choose what works for your team and bring them on the journey.
Strategic planning needn’t be complex. To make 2019 your best year in business yet, prioritise your purpose, set clear, budgeted goals that are measured and tracked, and show your team they matter by involving them along the way.