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How to Develop a Business Strategy: 6 Steps

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  • 25 Oct 2022

Business strategy can seem daunting, and for good reason: It can make or break an organization. Yet, developing a strong strategy doesn’t need to be overwhelming.

In the online course Business Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee posits that strategy is simple. His secret? Focus on your organization’s value creation.

“Strategy often sounds like a lofty concept that only the most senior executives can develop,” Oberholzer-Gee says. “But actually, anyone can think and act strategically. It doesn’t need to be difficult; all you need is a proven framework.”

Here’s a breakdown of why business strategy is important, the basics of value-based strategy, and six steps for developing your own.

Why Do You Need a Business Strategy?

Business strategy is the development, alignment, and integration of an organization’s strategic initiatives to give it a competitive edge in the market. Devising a business strategy can ensure you have a clear plan for reaching organizational goals and continue to survive and thrive.

According to a study by Bridges Business Consultancy , 48 percent of organizations fail to meet half of their strategic targets and 85 percent fail to meet two-thirds, highlighting why dedication to the business strategy process is crucial.

One type of business strategy is called value-based strategy, which simplifies the process by leveraging the value stick framework to focus on the advantage your business creates.

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What Is Value-Based Strategy?

Value-based strategy , also called value-based pricing, is a pricing method in which an organization relies on the perceived value of its goods and services to determine its pricing structure and resource allocation.

The value stick framework can be used to visualize how various factors impact each other and determine which initiatives to pursue to increase value for all parties.

The value stick framework

The value stick has four factors:

  • Willingness to pay (WTP) : The highest price a customer is willing to pay for your product or service
  • Price : The amount customers have to pay for goods or services
  • Cost : The amount a company spends on producing goods or services
  • Willingness to sell (WTS) : The lowest amount suppliers are willing to accept for the materials required to produce goods or services

To determine how to best create value, you can toggle each factor on the value stick to see how the others are affected. For instance, lowering price increases customer delight.

"As strategists, we really ask three questions,” Oberholzer-Gee says in Business Strategy. “How can my business best create value for customers? How can my business create value for employees? And how can my business create value by collaborating with suppliers? Think of a company's strategy as an answer to these three questions."

Related: 4 Business Strategy Skills Every Business Leader Needs

6 Steps to Develop a Value-Based Business Strategy

1. define your purpose.

When approaching business strategy, defining your organization’s purpose can be a useful starting point.

This is vital in creating customer and employee value, especially if your organization’s purpose is linked to a cause such as environmental protection or alleviating specific social issues.

A recent survey conducted by clean energy company Swytch found that nearly 75 percent of millennials would take a decrease in salary if it meant working for an environmentally responsible company. Nearly 40 percent selected one job over another because of an organization’s sustainability practices.

Additionally, research in the Harvard Business Review shows that consumers’ motivation to buy from sustainable brands is on the rise. Sales of products marked as sustainable grew more than five times faster than those that weren’t.

By starting with purpose, your organization can create more value down the line.

2. Assess Market Opportunity

Next, understand your market’s competitive landscape. Which companies own shares of the market? What differentiates your competitors’ products from yours? Are there any unmet needs your organization could take advantage of?

Conducting this research before planning a strategy is critical in identifying how your organization provides unique customer value and opportunities to create even more.

3. Create Value for Customers

With an understanding of the market and your company’s purpose, you can determine how your organization provides unique or greater value and strategize ways to improve.

On the value stick, the value captured by customers is called “customer delight.” It can be increased by raising their willingness to pay and decreasing the product’s price. If lowering the price isn’t an option, brainstorm how you could make the product more valuable to customers, thus increasing their willingness to pay.

Some ways to create customer value include:

  • Lowering the product’s price
  • Increasing the product’s physical quality and longevity
  • Providing quick, high-quality customer service and a smooth shopping experience
  • Leveraging network effects , if applicable, to create a community of users
  • Incorporating an environmental or social cause into processes, packaging, and branding

4. Create Value for Suppliers

In addition to creating value for customers, you also need to provide value for suppliers. Suppliers can include any company that provides raw materials, labor, and transportation to help your organization produce goods or deliver services.

Supplier surplus, also called supplier delight, is created when the cost of materials increases or their willingness to sell decreases. The relationship between a firm and its suppliers can be contentious, given that both want to increase their margins. Yet, there are ways to create value for both parties.

Some ways to create value for suppliers include:

  • Agreeing to pay more for higher quality materials : While this increases the supplier surplus, it may also increase customer delight by raising willingness to pay, or increase the firm’s margin by allowing you to raise prices.
  • Working with the supplier to increase efficiency : This strategy can increase supplier surplus by lowering the overall cost of the supplier’s labor and their willingness to sell.

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5. Create Value for Employees

Creating value for employees is a critical part of an effective business strategy and can be assessed using the value stick. Think of your employees as the “supplier” of labor and the supplier margin as employee satisfaction.

Employee satisfaction can be increased by raising wages or lowering the minimum salary they’re willing to receive by delivering value in other ways. Satisfied employees may provide a better customer experience, resulting in increased customer delight.

The value you provide employees ensures they’re motivated to do their best work, develop their skills, and stay with your company long-term.

Some examples of ways to create value for your employees include:

  • Offering competitive salaries and bonuses
  • Offering benefits like ample paid vacation and sick days, generous parental leave, and wellness budgets
  • Providing flexibility of work location, whether your team is fully remote or hybrid
  • Aiding in professional development
  • Creating a workplace rich with a diversity of experiences, identities, and ideas
  • Fostering a supportive organizational culture

One example from Business Strategy is that of a call center for a diagnostics company. The employees were being paid minimum wage and expressed that the analytical nature of their phone calls with customers warranted higher pay. They also expressed pain points about cumbersome tasks and work conditions.

When a pay increase was implemented for all employees, along with operational changes to make processes smoother, employee productivity increased to the point that it balanced out the higher cost of salaries.

Because the employees’ satisfaction increased, they also began providing better experiences on the phone with customers. This increased the customers’ willingness to pay, directly impacting customer delight.

6. Map Strategy to Actionable Tasks and KPIs

Amidst creating value for each of the three groups, don’t forget the fourth party that needs value: your company. By creating value for employees, suppliers, and customers, you’re creating value for your firm, too.

To ensure you’re tracking to goals, determine your key performance indicators, what metrics constitute success, and how you’ll report results over time. Then, break each of the above value-creation goals into action items. For instance, what steps can you take to increase your employees’ compensation? Who will be responsible for each task?

Having actionable assignments and clear metrics for success will allow for a smooth transition from strategy formulation to execution.

Which HBS Online Strategy Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Building Your Strategic Skill Set

By leveraging the value stick, you can create a business strategy that provides value to employees, customers, suppliers, and your firm.

To develop your strategies further and dig deeper into how to navigate value creation, consider taking an online course like Business Strategy . Professor Oberholzer-Gee walks through real-world examples of business challenges, prompts you to consider how you’d create value, and then reveals what those business leaders did and how you can apply the lessons to your organization.

Want to learn more about how to craft a successful strategy for your organization? Explore Business Strategy , one of our online strategy courses , to learn how to create organizational value. Not sure which course is the right fit? Download our free flowchart .

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Strategic Business Alignment

Your guide to creating a strategic business development plan.

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The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

development strategy business plan

Every business faces the challenge of crafting an effective business development strategy . But what exactly is strategic business development? In simple terms, it’s a vital tool that ensures long-term success by aligning everyone in your organization towards a common objective.

A well-defined strategy outlines what your organization aims to achieve and the necessary steps to get there. It provides a clear roadmap, guiding your transition from broad directions to specific initiatives and ongoing operations. A strategic business development plan plays a crucial role in driving growth and ensuring sustainable success.

Now, let’s explore the strategic plan further, understand its significance, and dive into the art of crafting a winning business development plan.

Strategic Business Development Plan – What Is It?

A business development strategy is crucial for achieving organizational objectives and driving growth. It involves finding and implementing effective business growth strategies. With a well-defined growth strategy, teams can better understand their goals and contribute to organizational objectives. Business development focuses on attracting and retaining new customers to enhance revenue and expand your organization. By developing a clear plan, your business can plan to achieve these goals.

According to a poll conducted by Bridges Business Consultancy, a staggering 48% of organizations and 85% of businesses fail to achieve even half of their strategic goals. This highlights the importance of creating a strategic business development plan. 

Importance of Strategic Business Development Plan

A well-crafted strategic business development plan is the key to unlock long-term success and growth for your organization. By defining clear goals and actionable plans, businesses can thrive and achieve greatness. But why exactly is a strategic business development plan crucial? Let’s dive into a few compelling reasons.

Improves transparency

Transparency has become recognized as a critical business trait for both customers and employees. By cultivating transparency, you can enhance your company’s success and reputation. From strengthening your sales team to improving employee retention, transparency has the power to make a significant impact. Implementing a strategic growth strategy ensures that everyone in your organization is aware of the goals and their role in achieving them, thus promoting transparency.

Increases sales

At the heart of business development lies growth. Increasing sales is the ultimate goal, and businesses need a plan to make it happen. A strategic business development plan allows you to identify markets and products with high-profit potential, enabling you to prioritize partnerships and make informed decisions. It also helps you reduce expenses, uncover untapped growth opportunities, and allocate resources efficiently. With a solid business development strategy , your bottom line will thrive.

In today’s competitive landscape, businesses must actively seek growth opportunities. A thoughtfully designed business development strategy enables you to expand your clientele, explore new markets, and offer innovative products or services. By identifying your differentiators and value propositions, you’ll set your organization apart from competitors and take a lead in the market.

Also Read: How To Improve Employee Productivity In 2024?

How to create a strategic business development plan.

Effective strategic management involves identifying an organization’s strengths and acknowledging its weaknesses. It goes beyond mere recognition and outlines a robust business strategy that maximizes the benefits and mitigates the drawbacks. A comprehensive corporate development plan comprises various components, each strategically aligned with distinct goals and objectives. Now, let’s delve into a detailed possess to create a business plan:

Define your purpose

A strategic plan serves as the overarching mission or vision statement for a company. When embarking on the creation of a corporate plan, it proves advantageous to initiate the process by clearly defining the goal of your organization . This entails a meticulous identification of the needs, preferences, and pain points of your ideal customers. By gaining a profound understanding of these factors, your plan can be more effectively tailored to cater to their specific requirements. Initiating the strategic planning process with a well-defined purpose sets the foundation for your company to deliver enhanced value over time.

Perform market research

After identifying your target market, it’s time to delve into comprehending their needs. To effectively persuade them to collaborate with you, you need to address the following inquiries:

  • What are the major challenges they currently face?
  • What specific services pique their interest?
  • How do they approach problem-solving at present?
  • How can your products or services uplift their current situation?

Once you have solid answers to these questions, it’s crucial to thoroughly research your competitors. Identify what makes you stand out from the crowd and emphasize this unique value proposition to potential clients, leveraging it as your competitive advantage.

Consider SWOT analysis

To gain a profound understanding of your company’s current standing, conducting a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a paramount strategy. Each element of the SWOT matrix plays a crucial role in shaping and executing an organization’s strategy. Some factors fall under internal control, while others are significantly influenced by external forces. A SWOT analysis provides a comprehensive view of your business from various perspectives. It not only sheds light on internal aspects for improvement and areas of success but also necessitates an evaluation of the external environment. This evaluation helps identify potential threats and business opportunities that can be either mitigated or seized in the future.”

Provide value to stakeholders

Investing in lasting connections with your clients is a worthwhile expense. Repeat customers not only contribute significantly to your business’s revenue but also come at a lower conversion cost. Moreover, returning customers are more open to your sales pitches, providing valuable insights for your company’s growth. However, remember that your suppliers deserve value too – it’s crucial to prioritize delivering value to them alongside your customers. And let’s not forget about the importance of prioritizing employee satisfaction in your business plan. By doing so, you’ll not only enhance employee morale but also improve customer satisfaction in the process.

Identify ways to monitor progress

Effectively monitoring the progress of your business development strategy is crucial for achieving your goals. One key approach is the utilization of key performance indicators (KPIs) tailored to your strategic objectives. Regularly tracking these KPIs provides real-time insights into the performance of various initiatives, allowing for timely adjustments and improvements. Data analytics tools play a vital role in quantifying metrics such as customer acquisition costs, conversion rates, and website traffic. Additionally, seeking feedback from customers, conducting market research, and implementing surveys can offer qualitative insights that complement quantitative data. 

Make use of technology

Embrace tools and platforms designed to enhance the efficiency of your business development activities. Utilize advanced solutions to manage leads, keep track of interactions, and engage with prospects seamlessly. Leverage social networking sites, implement marketing automation software, and integrate CRM systems to streamline your processes. Maintain flexibility and readiness to adapt to evolving consumer demands and market conditions. Regularly assess and enhance your business development approach to stay ahead and remain competitive in a dynamic business landscape.

Monitor and alter your approach

Regularly monitoring the effectiveness of your business development strategy enables you to make necessary adjustments based on valuable information and insights. Keep a close eye on the progress of your objectives and assess the efficiency of your strategy using key performance indicators (KPIs). Stay proactive by consistently evaluating market developments, gathering customer input, and monitoring competitor activities. 

A comprehensive understanding of your target market, specific objectives, and a clearly articulated value proposition are essential for crafting a successful business growth strategy.

Also Read: Modern Performance Appraisal Types that Create a Winning Culture

Summing it up.

Every successful business has its own unique qualities. That’s why it is crucial to tailor these tactics to align with your specific goals, industry, and target audience. Continuously evaluate your business development efforts and make the necessary adjustments to foster growth and triumph. 

With a well-structured strategic management approach, you can not only enjoy this process but also proudly propel your company forward. Remember, implementing a company plan requires dedication, but it is just the beginning of an exciting journey. By embracing the right planning and utilizing the appropriate resources, your organization stands a fair chance of achieving remarkable success. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. what is the primary purpose of a strategic business development plan.

A strategic business development plan serves as a roadmap for guiding your company’s growth and success. It outlines goals, identifies opportunities, and sets a clear path for achieving sustainable development. By aligning your business activities with a well-thought-out plan, you can enhance decision-making and improve overall efficiency.

2. How often should I update my strategic business development plan?

Regular updates are crucial for keeping your strategic business development plan relevant and effective. Aim to review and, if necessary, revise the plan at least annually. However, more frequent assessments may be required if there are significant changes in your industry, market conditions, or internal factors. Flexibility and adaptability are key in ensuring your plan remains a dynamic tool for success.

3. What are the key components of a successful strategic business development plan?

A comprehensive strategic business development plan typically includes key components such as a clear mission statement, a thorough analysis of the current business environment, defined short-term and long-term goals, identification of target markets, competitive analysis, and a detailed implementation strategy. It should also outline how progress will be measured and what mechanisms are in place for regular evaluation and adjustments.

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Chandler Barr is the VP of Sales at Engagedly and is focused on driving a culture of progress over perfection in a no-fault environment where employees are secure and encouraged to think creatively to solve problems. Chandler is a seasoned leader that has scaled sales teams for SaaS startups and multibillion-dollar publicly traded tech companies, as well as, led Marines to accomplish the mission during hardships overseas.

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10 Key Business Development Strategies (with Examples)

In today’s world, if you want your business to grow and succeed, you need a good plan for making it happen.

There are many different ways to help your business grow, and in this article, we’ll discuss some of the best business development strategies and techniques available.

There’s a lot you can do, from finding more customers for what you already sell to coming up with new products to sell or even teaming up with other businesses.

We’ll also examine how using the Internet and technology can benefit your business and why it’s important to consider how your business affects the world and people’s lives.

What is a Business Development Strategy?

A business development strategy is a plan that a company follows to grow and get better.

Imagine it like a map that helps a business decide where to go next to make more money, find more customers, or introduce new products.

It involves figuring out what the business is good at, what customers want, and how to reach more people or sell more things.

The goal of a business development strategy is not just to grow sales, but also to build a sustainable business model that can adapt to changing market conditions and capitalize on new opportunities.

A well-crafted business development strategy ensures that a company remains competitive and continues to thrive in its industry.

Business Development Strategies

10 Key Business Development Strategies - an infographic

Download the above infographic in PDF

1. Market Penetration Strategy

When we talk about business development strategies, a market penetration strategy is like the bread and butter for companies aiming to grow. It’s all about making your existing products or services a bigger hit in the markets you’re already playing in. Imagine trying to sell more ice cream in a town that loves your flavors — that’s market penetration.

Why it’s important: It’s less about reinventing the wheel and more about pushing the pedal on what already works. You can cut prices to outdo the competition, ramp up your marketing to make sure everyone knows your name, or offer deals that customers can’t resist.

Examples: Let’s say you run a coffee shop in a bustling neighborhood. To increase your market share, you might introduce a loyalty card that gives customers a free drink after they buy ten. This not only encourages repeat business but can also bring in more foot traffic as word spreads.

Why it’s a smart move: By focusing on market penetration , you’re building on your existing successes. It’s a tried and true method among business development techniques that can lead to increased sales without the costs and risks associated with targeting entirely new markets or developing new products from scratch.

In essence, beefing up your presence in current markets with strategies that have proven their worth can be a game-changer for your business. It’s about maximizing what you already do best and making sure as many people as possible know about it.

2. Market Development Strategy

Market development strategy - an infographic

Diving deeper into our exploration of business development strategies, let’s chat about the market development strategy. It’s like being an explorer, charting unknown territories, except instead of new lands, you’re venturing into new markets or customer segments with your tried-and-true products or services.

Why it’s exciting: Market development is thrilling because it opens up a world of possibilities. You could take your existing product and introduce it to a different city, country, or even a completely new demographic. It’s about finding new playgrounds where your product can shine.

Examples: Imagine you’ve been selling an innovative bike lock in urban areas where biking is a popular mode of transportation. A market development strategy might involve launching this product in suburban areas where there’s a growing interest in biking, thanks to new bike-friendly infrastructure.

How it works: This approach requires research and understanding of the new market. You’ll need to know what these new customers want, how they shop, and what kind of messaging speaks to them. It’s a classic technique in business development strategies that can pay off by expanding your customer base and opening new revenue streams.

Why it’s a brilliant tactic: By leveraging market development, you’re not just sticking to the safe confines of your existing market. Instead, you’re taking a calculated risk to grow your business. It’s a powerful way to utilize your existing successes and replicate them in a new context, making it a cornerstone among business development techniques.

In conclusion, market development is about seizing new opportunities and taking your successful product or service to new frontiers. It’s an adventurous and strategic move that requires understanding and adapting to new markets, but with the right approach, it can significantly amplify your business’s growth.

3. Product Development Strategy

The product development strategy stands out as a beacon for innovation. This strategy is about bringing new products or services to the table in your existing market. It’s akin to a chef creating a new, exquisite dish to wow patrons who already love the menu.

Why it sparkles with potential:  Product development is exhilarating because it taps into your creative resources to meet evolving customer needs or fill gaps in the market. It’s your chance to say, “Look what we can do!” and strengthen your position in the market with fresh offerings.

Examples:  Consider a tech company known for its consumer electronics. They might leverage a product development strategy by introducing smart home devices to their lineup, catering to their tech-savvy customer base’s desire for a more connected living experience.

The practical part:  Successful product development hinges on understanding your customers’ needs and staying ahead of industry trends. It requires a blend of market research, product innovation, and sometimes, a dash of daring. Among business development techniques, this one is particularly challenging because it involves creating something new, yet it’s also immensely rewarding.

Why it wins:  Embarking on product development can reinvigorate your brand and encourage customer loyalty. By continuously evolving your product offerings, you’re showing customers that you’re committed to innovation and addressing their changing needs. It’s a way to keep your audience engaged and interested in what you’ll do next.

In essence, a product development strategy is about breathing new life into your business with innovative offerings that captivate your existing market. It’s a vibrant testament to your commitment to growth and adaptation, positioning you as a forward-thinking leader in your industry.

4. Diversification Strategy

What is Diversification Strategy - an infographic

Diversification strategy is all about spreading your wings and flying into new territories with new products or services. It’s like opening a new chapter in your business’s story, venturing into uncharted waters to uncover new opportunities and revenue streams.

What makes it intriguing: Diversification is exciting because it pushes your business beyond its comfort zone. You’re not just expanding; you’re transforming. This could mean developing new products that complement your existing offerings or stepping into a completely different market with something innovative.

Examples: Consider a company that manufactures high-end cameras. They decide to diversify by entering the smartphone market with a device that boasts superior photography features. This move not only taps into the lucrative smartphone market but also leverages the company’s expertise in imaging technology.

How to implement it: Successful diversification requires thorough market research , innovation, and sometimes, a bit of courage. It’s important to assess how your new product or service fits with your brand and whether it addresses a genuine need in the market.

Why it’s a game-changer: Diversification is among the more ambitious business development techniques because it can significantly reduce risk by not putting all your eggs in one basket. Plus, it can rejuvenate your brand, making it relevant to a broader audience.

In summary , a diversification strategy is about boldly expanding your business into new areas with new offerings. It’s a move that requires careful strategic planning and a deep understanding of both your capabilities and the needs of the market. When done right, diversification can be a transformative growth strategy, setting your business on a path to new heights and successes.

5. Strategic Partnerships and Alliances

Business Partnership Concept

This strategy is about joining forces with other businesses to achieve common goals, leveraging each other’s strengths to unlock new opportunities.

Why it’s compelling: Strategic partnerships are like having a buddy system in the business world. They allow you to share resources, knowledge, and markets with another organization, making it easier to tackle ambitious projects or enter new markets. It’s about creating a win-win situation where both parties can grow and succeed.

Examples: Imagine a software company offering custom software development services and specializing in educational technology. By forming an alliance with a content creation firm that produces high-quality educational material, they can offer a more comprehensive learning platform. This partnership not only enhances their product offering but also opens up new customer segments.

How it works: Forming a strategic partnership or alliance involves identifying potential partners who share your vision and complementary strengths. The key is to clearly define the terms of the partnership, including roles, responsibilities, and how success will be measured.

Why it’s effective: This approach is one of the more synergistic business development techniques, as it enables companies to combine their efforts for greater impact. Partnerships can help businesses achieve objectives that would be difficult or impossible to achieve alone, such as expanding into new geographical markets or combining technologies to create innovative solutions.

In essence, strategic partnerships and alliances are about collaboration and mutual growth. By carefully selecting the right partners and aligning your goals, businesses can unlock new potentials and navigate the path to success more efficiently.

6. Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) represent a powerful avenue among business development strategies, where companies either merge with or acquire another company to boost growth, access new markets , or enhance capabilities. Think of it as joining forces with others to conquer territories or pooling resources to build an empire. It’s a fast track to expansion that can otherwise take years to achieve organically.

Why it’s impactful: M&A can dramatically change the scale of your business, providing instant access to new customers, technologies, and resources. It’s a strategy that can lead to significant market power and competitive advantages almost overnight.

Examples: A classic example would be a large tech company acquiring a smaller startup that offers innovative technology or services that complement the larger company’s product offerings. This not only eliminates a potential competitor but also integrates new technologies into the company’s portfolio, driving further innovation and growth.

Executing the strategy: Success in M&A requires diligent due diligence, strategic alignment, and effective integration planning. It’s crucial to ensure that the companies’ cultures, values, and business models align to avoid integration challenges post-acquisition.

Why it’s a savvy move: From a business development perspective, mergers and acquisitions can offer a shortcut to growth that organic methods can’t match. It allows companies to diversify their offerings, enter new markets rapidly, and acquire strategic assets or skills they lack.

In essence, M&A is about making bold moves to accelerate your company’s growth trajectory. While it comes with its set of challenges and risks, including cultural integration and financial investment, the potential rewards in terms of market expansion, enhanced capabilities, and increased competitiveness make it a crucial tactic in the arsenal of business development strategies.

7. Customer Retention Strategies

Customer Retention Strategies - an infographic

Venturing further into our journey through business development strategies, let’s zero in on customer retention strategies. Unlike the exploratory nature of entering new markets or launching new products, customer retention is all about deepening relationships with the customers you already have.

Why it matters: Retaining customers is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Loyal customers not only continue to buy from you but are also more likely to recommend your products or services to others, acting as brand ambassadors.

Examples: An online streaming service introduces a tiered membership program, offering exclusive content and early access to new releases for premium members. This not only incentivizes longer subscription commitments but also enhances the perceived value of the service.

Key techniques: Effective customer retention strategies can include loyalty programs, exceptional customer service, feedback loops for continual improvement, and personalized marketing efforts. These techniques recognize and reward customer loyalty, creating a more personalized and satisfying experience.

Why it’s a cornerstone strategy: Focusing on customer retention is a crucial component of business development strategies because it builds a stable revenue base and fosters a community of loyal customers. This, in turn, can lead to more predictable sales and a stronger brand.

In essence, customer retention strategies are about showing appreciation for your current customers, ensuring they feel valued and understood. This not only secures their continued business but also transforms them into vocal supporters of your brand, contributing to a virtuous cycle of growth and loyalty.

8. Networking and Relationship Building

Business Network Illustration

Let’s talk about networking and relationship building. Unlike direct sales tactics or digital marketing efforts, networking is about cultivating long-term relationships that can lead to opportunities, referrals, and partnerships down the line.

Why it matters: In the realm of business development, who you know can be just as important as what you know. Building a strong network can open doors to new clients, insights into industry trends, potential partners, and even investors. It’s about creating a web of connections where value is exchanged mutually over time.

Example: Imagine attending industry conferences, not with the primary goal of immediate sales, but with the intention of meeting other professionals in your field, sharing knowledge, and learning about their needs and challenges. Over time, these connections can lead to collaborative projects, referrals, or simply valuable advice.

How to approach it: Effective networking is rooted in genuine interest in others and a willingness to offer help and resources without the immediate expectation of getting something in return. It’s about building trust and rapport by being reliable, knowledgeable, and generous.

Why it’s a strategic move: Networking and relationship building are fundamental business development techniques because they leverage the power of human connections. Relationships built on trust and mutual respect can be the most durable and valuable assets in your business development arsenal.

N etworking and relationship building aim to cultivate meaningful relationships that can evolve into powerful catalysts for business growth.

9. Digital Transformation and Innovation

As we dive deeper into the world of business development strategies, it’s impossible to overlook the immense impact of digital transformation and innovation. This strategy is about leveraging the latest digital technologies to fundamentally change how your business operates and delivers value to customers. Think of it as the process of turning your traditional analog business into a smart, tech-savvy enterprise ready to face the modern digital world head-on.

Why it’s crucial: In today’s fast-paced business environment, technology can be a major differentiator. Digital transformation not only streamlines operations but also enhances customer experiences, opens up new channels for engagement, and fosters innovation. It’s about staying relevant and competitive in a digital-first world.

Examples: Consider a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer that adopts an omnichannel approach, integrating their in-store experience with a seamless online shopping platform. This might include a mobile app that customers can use to scan products in-store, read reviews, check out online, and even receive personalized recommendations based on their shopping history.

How to implement it: Embracing digital transformation requires a clear vision, strong leadership, and a willingness to invest in new technologies. It often involves adopting cloud computing, leveraging big data analytics, automating processes with AI, and enhancing customer interactions through digital channels.

Why it’s a game-changer: Digital transformation and innovation can revolutionize the way you do business, making you more agile, efficient, and customer-centric. It’s a powerful business development technique that not only drives growth but also builds resilience against disruptions in the market.

The journey towards digital transformation and innovation is about reimagining your business for the digital age. It offers a unique opportunity to innovate, differentiate, and deliver exceptional value to your customers.

10. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR is about businesses taking responsibility for their impact on society and the environment. It’s a strategy that aligns a company’s operations with social values and environmental sustainability practices. Think of it as doing well by doing good; when companies invest in CSR, they not only contribute positively to the world but also build trust and loyalty among customers and employees.

Why it’s important: Today’s consumers and workers are increasingly conscious of the ethical practices of the companies they buy from and work for. Implementing CSR initiatives can enhance your brand’s reputation, attract and retain top talent, and open up new business opportunities with like-minded partners and customers.

Examples: Imagine a clothing manufacturer that decides to source materials exclusively from suppliers that adhere to fair labor practices and environmental standards. Additionally, they might launch a recycling program, encouraging customers to return used items for recycling in exchange for a discount on their next purchase.

How to engage in CSR: Effective CSR goes beyond one-time charitable donations; it involves integrating sustainable and ethical practices into everyday business operations. This might include reducing carbon footprints, enhancing employee welfare programs, engaging in community development projects, or supporting social causes through partnerships with non-profits.

Why it’s a strategic move: CSR is among the most impactful business development techniques because it builds a strong emotional connection with stakeholders. Companies that are seen as socially responsible can differentiate themselves in crowded markets, foster loyalty among customers, and create a positive corporate image that attracts investment and partnership opportunities.

Corporate Social Responsibility is not just a moral obligation; it’s a strategic business development approach that can drive long-term success. By prioritizing CSR, companies not only contribute to a better world but also build a strong, sustainable brand that resonates with today’s ethically minded consumers and employees. It’s a testament to the power of combining profit with purpose to achieve growth and impact.

FAQs on Business Development Strategies

Frequently Asked Questions Concept

1. What is the purpose of a business development strategy? The primary purpose of a business development strategy is to identify and implement opportunities for growth within and outside a company. This can include increasing revenue, expanding into new markets, developing new products or services, enhancing customer relationships, and forming strategic partnerships or alliances.

2. How do I choose the right business development strategy for my company? Choosing the right business development strategy involves understanding your business’s current position, goals, and the specific challenges and opportunities in your industry. Analyze your target market, competition, internal capabilities, and resources. It’s also essential to align the strategy with your company’s overall vision and mission.

3. Can you give examples of effective business development techniques? Effective business development techniques include networking and relationship building, leveraging social media and digital marketing, attending industry events and trade shows, conducting market research to identify new opportunities, and employing customer feedback to improve products and services.

4. How does market penetration differ from market development? Market penetration focuses on increasing the market share of an existing product within its current market, often through competitive pricing, marketing initiatives, and sales promotions. Market development, on the other hand, aims to enter new markets or target new customer segments with existing products, requiring adaptations to marketing strategies and possibly the product itself to meet different customer needs.

5. What role does innovation play in business development strategies? Innovation is crucial for sustaining growth and staying competitive. It involves developing new or improved products, services, processes, or business models that meet emerging customer needs or create new markets. Innovation can differentiate a company from competitors and drive long-term success.

6. How important are strategic partnerships and alliances in business development? Strategic partnerships and alliances are vital for leveraging complementary strengths, resources, and markets to achieve mutual growth objectives that might be difficult to accomplish independently. These collaborations can provide access to new markets, technologies, expertise, and customer bases.

7. What are some common mistakes in implementing business development strategies? Common mistakes include failing to conduct thorough market research, not aligning the strategy with the company’s core competencies and goals, underestimating the resources required, neglecting existing customers in pursuit of new ones, and not adapting to market feedback or changing conditions.

8. How can a company measure the success of its business development strategies? Success can be measured through various metrics, including revenue growth, market share expansion, customer acquisition and retention rates, profitability improvements, and achievement of strategic goals. Regularly reviewing these metrics and adjusting strategies as necessary is key to sustained growth.

9. Why is customer retention considered a business development strategy? Customer retention is crucial because acquiring new customers can be significantly more expensive than keeping existing ones. Retained customers often make repeat purchases and can become brand advocates. Effective retention strategies can lead to sustained revenue growth and profitability.

10. How does CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) enhance business development? CSR enhances business development by building a positive brand image, fostering customer loyalty, attracting and retaining talent, and potentially opening up new markets or customer segments. Companies that are viewed as socially responsible can differentiate themselves from competitors and achieve sustainable growth.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

In conclusion, navigating the complexities of today’s business landscape requires a strategic approach to development that encompasses a broad range of tactics and methodologies.

From diving into the depths of market penetration and development strategies to exploring the innovative horizons of digital transformation, businesses have at their disposal a plethora of paths to achieve growth and sustainability.

The key takeaways from our exploration into business development strategies and techniques underscore the importance of a multifaceted approach tailored to your company’s unique goals and market conditions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Strategic Alignment: Ensure that your business development strategies are in harmony with your company’s overall vision, mission, and capabilities. Tailoring strategies to fit your unique strengths and market position can lead to more effective and sustainable growth.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Whether it’s through retention strategies, innovation, or CSR initiatives, keeping the customer at the heart of your business development efforts is crucial. Understanding and addressing their needs can drive loyalty and long-term success.
  • Adaptability and Innovation: In a rapidly changing business environment, staying adaptable and open to innovation can set you apart from competitors. Embrace digital transformation and continually seek new ways to improve your offerings and processes.
  • The Power of Relationships: Building and maintaining strong relationships through networking, strategic partnerships, and alliances can open up new opportunities and resources critical for growth.
  • Measure and Adjust: Regularly measuring the success of your business development strategies with clear metrics is essential. Be prepared to adjust your approach based on performance data and shifting market dynamics.
  • Sustainability and Responsibility: Incorporating CSR into your business development strategies not only contributes positively to society but also enhances your brand’s reputation and appeal to modern consumers and employees.

By embracing these key insights, businesses can develop a robust framework for growth that leverages the best practices in business development strategies and techniques.

Remember, the path to success involves not just the pursuit of growth for its own sake but doing so in a manner that is sustainable, responsible, and aligned with your core values.

Here’s to your business’s continued growth and success in navigating the exciting challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

About The Author

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Silvia Valcheva

Silvia Valcheva is a digital marketer with over a decade of experience creating content for the tech industry. She has a strong passion for writing about emerging software and technologies such as big data, AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), process automation, etc.

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What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

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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.

How to build an organizational strategy

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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? 


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? 


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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Write better AI prompts: A 4-sentence framework

9 steps for writing a strategic business development plan

Updated 04 October 2023 • 7 min read

Developing a business plan can mark the start of an exciting phase, as you start charting future growth. This document serves as the roadmap for your business development strategy as you take your business to new heights.

Creating an effective business development plan can be a tough task. It requires you to think through several aspects of your business that you may not consider on a day-to-day basis.

Don’t worry — we’re here to help. This article will walk you through how to write a business development plan, so you can grow your business in the most effective way possible. 

What is a business development plan?

A business development plan is the growth roadmap for your business. It’s a strategy document that lays out where you want to take your business and how you intend to get there. 

A thorough and carefully crafted business development plan lays out your growth targets, financial projections and the tools and resources your company needs. It may also define your marketing and efforts that support your goals.

A business development plan provides clarity and helps you keep your objectives in focus during the day-to-day grind. It also provides a strong foundation for making business decisions — if you’re not sure whether a move makes sense, you can always consult your plan.

Why do you need a business development plan?

Creating a proper business development strategy can be a lot of work. But it pays dividends by providing clarity and focus. It also helps when trying to secure funding, as it shows you've thought through all the possibilities. 

A business development plan helps you:

Get clarity

A strong business development plan helps you get clear about priorities during the hectic launch phase of your business. It helps you define your goals and objectives, as well as chart out how you’ll reach them. 

Stay focused

As you dive into the day-to-day running of your business, it can be easy to get bogged down in details and lose sight of your larger goals. Your business plan provides an anchor that keeps you in place. And if you’re already in business, it can help you take a step back and refocus on the fundamentals.

Secure funding

A detailed business plan is one of the most effective ways to show investors that you can be trusted. This is especially important when you’re just starting out and have no track record of performance. Your business plan shows that you’ve thought about how your business will fare in the long run, not just in the short term.

Achieve growth

A proper business development plan should include a roadmap. This is your high-level strategy document that serves as the map to your company’s growth. It lays out how you’ll measure success, provides targets to aim for and defines your plans for hitting them.

How to write a business development plan

If you’re convinced that you need to write your own business development plan (or update the one you have), you might be wondering where to start. Let’s walk through the process. 

1. Set clear financial goals

Your business development strategy should include clear financial goals. For example, every business wants to increase sales; however, that’s not a specific goal. Instead, set a target for your sales figures within a certain timeframe, and keep it realistic by using your current numbers as a baseline.

To do this, project your revenue, profit and expenses if business were to stay the same. Then consider what a realistic target might be and include that. This number may be lower than you'd expect, but it’s more important that it’s actually achievable.

2. Refine customer profiles

Detailed customer and audience profiles help your business effectively target its marketing efforts. Your business might already have customer profiles — updating your business plan is a perfect time to update these profiles, as well. And if you don’t have profiles yet, there’s no time like the present.

You can start refining your customer profiles by examining your current customer base. Look at their demographics and habits. Then use a similar strategy to create profiles of your ideal customers.

3. Identify key growth opportunities

Next, identify your key growth opportunities. These could be new products or services, an expansion into a new market, or even a complete rebuild of your current offerings.

Whatever these opportunities are, include them in your business development plan. Articulate how and why these opportunities will help grow the business. 

4. List funding sources

Your plan should include not just the amount of funding you’ll need, but how you plan to get it — loans , equity investors or crowdfunding , for example. Now is the time to come up with an in-depth funding strategy. Doing this legwork on the front end, while developing your plan, makes it easier to focus on execution when stress inevitably creeps in. 

This part of your plan should include the sources you’ve secured, as well as those you’d like to seek funds from. It should also include how much you’ll seek from each source, what form those funds will take, and any obstacles you might encounter.

5. Determine operational needs

You’ve laid out your goals, growth opportunities and potential funding sources. Now, look over these items and determine how to make all this happen. 

Be aware that as your operational needs expand, your business expenses will also increase. For example, you may require additional equipment, a new warehouse to enable expanded logistics, or more employees to help serve customers. Whatever it is, build it into your business development plan.

6. Develop a sales and marketing strategy

Your business development plan is the perfect place to include sales and marketing strategies. Ultimately, these will be some of the key drivers for leveraging your growth opportunities and hitting your financial goals.

As you draft these ideas, run them through this simple test: Will they still hold up if you reach your growth targets, or will you need to rework them? Ideally, you want sales and marketing strategies that can grow along with your business.

7. Create your elevator pitch

Your elevator pitch is the short-and-sweet version of your company’s mission. The premise is simple: If you were to meet someone on an elevator and only had that brief ride to pitch your company, what would you say?

Some people adopt arbitrary rules on their elevator pitch, such as limiting it to a Twitter-length 280 characters. While this limitation isn’t necessary, it should give you a good idea of the brevity of an elevator pitch and the impact you’ll need to make. 

8. Identify your resource needs

You’ve identified your broad operational needs — equipment, facilities and employees. You’ll also want to identify your resource needs. These include how you might manage your technology and team members in a more specific way.

For example, if your marketing plan involves creating video content, you’ll need the proper equipment and software to create it. Your sales strategy might involve retooling your CRM or migrating to a new system. Or, your growth targets might mean that you need to move to a new accounting platform .

9. Determine how you'll measure success

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to decide how you’ll measure progress towards your goals. How will you know when you’ve hit that ambitious sales target or grown your business in that new market? 

You need to be able to measure your business performance and progress. Setting targets and KPIs for your employees may be good ways to keep things on track.

Business Development Plan Template

If you need a business development plan example, we’ve put together this template . It’ll help you shape your own business plan and outline the key sections. 

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A strong business development plan is a powerful asset for driving growth. It helps you outline your plans and stay on course, even when you’re overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks. 

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How to make a business plan

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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


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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Write a business development plan

Now that you’re in the growth stage of your business, set things in motion with a business development plan.

A business development plan sets goals for growth and explains how you will achieve them. It can have a short-term or long-term focus. Review and revise your plan as often as you can. And keep building on it as your business evolves.

How to write a business development plan

Your business development plan is your roadmap to growth, so make it clear, specific and realistic.

What to include in a business development plan

  • Opportunities for growth: Identify where growth will come from – whether it’s in creating new products, adding more services, breaking into new markets, or a combination of these.
  • Funding plan: Determine how you’ll fund your business growth. How much capital do you already have? How much more do you need and how will you get it? Check out our guide on financing your business.
  • Financial goals: Work out what revenue, costs and profits you’ll have if things stay the same. Use those numbers as a basis for setting new, more ambitious financial goals.
  • Operational needs: Identify what things about your business will need to change in order to achieve growth. Will you need extra people, more equipment, or new suppliers?
  • Sales and marketing activities: Figure out what sales and marketing efforts will effectively promote growth and how these efforts will change as the business gets bigger and better. Make sure your sales and marketing plan is sturdy enough to support your growing business.
  • Team needs: You may need people to take on some of the tasks you’ve been doing. Think about what parts of running the business you enjoy most – and you’re good at – and what parts you might want to delegate to others. And give some thought to the culture you want to develop in your business as it grows. Check out our guide on hiring employees.

A sample business development plan

Avoid these common business development mistakes.

  • Thinking short-term instead of long-term
  • Underestimating how much money it will take to grow
  • Not budgeting enough money to cover the costs of growth
  • Focusing on too many growth opportunities: think quality, not quantity

Micro-planning can keep you focused

You may want to create some micro-plans for specific growth projects so their details don’t get overlooked. And you can build in some KPIs to measure your progress and successes. As your business grows, take note of your progress and make periodic adjustments to your business development plan to make sure it’s still relevant.

Support is out there

Remember you’re not the first to go through this. Seek out mentors, advisors or other business owners who can help you with your planning. Your accountant or bookkeeper may also be able to help or point you in the direction of the right people.

Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

Growing your business

Are you ready to drop the hammer and take your business to the next level? Let’s look at how to grow.

Before you leap into growth, reflect on where you’ve come from. Find out the stage of business growth you’re at.

Understanding your business performance will help you grow. Check out common examples of small business KPIs.

Increasing sales revenue is one obvious way to help grow your business. But how do you sell more?

You can grow your business by selling more things to more people, or fewer things to fewer people. Let’s look at how.

You’re all set to grow your business. But there’s so much to keep track of. Xero’s got resources and solutions to help.

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How to Create a Business Development Strategy for Your Sales Team [Template]

Clint Fontanella

Updated: May 19, 2021

Published: June 05, 2019

Before HubSpot was named "HubSpot," it was LegalSpot.

sales team creating a Business Development Strategy

According to Brian Halligan , LegalSpot was going to be "a suite of applications that helped you manage your law firm." He and Dharmesh Shah then "tinkered" with their business model until they transformed it into the universal Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service Hub it is today.

The moral of the story? Brian and Dharmesh had a business plan from the start. They created a development process that fostered growth and strategized for long-term success. That's what propelled a lunch table idea into the first software for Inbound Marketing .

Free Download: Sales Plan Template

If you want your business to grow, you need a business development process that's organized and consistent. If you're not sure where to start, let's begin with discussing what a business development process is and how to create a strategy to improve it. Then, we'll wrap up with a free template you can use to implement a plan at your company.

Business Development Process

The business development process refers to the steps your business takes to improve the organization as a whole. This includes everything you do to attract, engage, and delight your customers. Outlining this process helps your team understand current business conditions and set goals for the future.

It's important that your sales team understands your business development process because they can use that knowledge to set annual sales targets.

For example, let's say your business development team finds that your U.S. sales are growing and are projected to hit five million dollars in five years. With this information at hand, sales management can set hiring goals and review sales strategies to ensure they meet their projected growth.

Once you hash out your business development process, you'll need a plan that improves it over time. To help you get started, let's go over what a business development strategy is and how you can implement one at your company.

Business Development Strategy

A business development strategy is a detailed plan outlining how an organization will grow and succeed over time. Companies use business development strategy to address specific business needs that influence the organization's growth. By creating a long-term development plan, marketing, sales, and customer service departments have a better understanding of how their work contributes to the business's success.

If your company doesn't have a development strategy, or you're unsure about how to make one, let's go over the steps to creating a plan in the next section.

Business Development Strategy Plan

1. mission statement and background.

Your business development strategy should begin with outlining your company's purpose as well as any relevant background information. This includes your mission statement, vision statement, and company history. Having this information front and center makes your organization's intentions clear to the reader and present throughout the document.

Before you start describing your goals and strategies, it's important to highlight the employees that will make this plan possible. You should outline who your sales leadership consists of, the team's overall structure, and any new hires that join the organization. This not only develops a chain of command, but it also helps you identify hiring needs and fill vacant positions.

3. Target Market

Once we have the background information out of the way, the next step is to describe your target audience. You'll need to identify who your product or service is designed for and how you'll segment this audience for your sales team. You should also discuss audiences that shouldn't be pursued to ensure your team is engaging with qualified leads.

The best place to start is by describing the location of your target audience. Are they nation-wide or region-based? If region-based, how will you reach them?

Then, include your buyer personas . Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customers based on market research and existing customer data. This will highlight to your sales team the exact type of customer they should be pursuing.

4. Tools, Software, and Resources

The next section should describe the tools, software, and resources that will help you achieve your goals. This includes your CRM , marketing automation, social media, and customer service tools. These assets streamline functions and store valuable information about your customers. Your sales team should be aware of each of these tools as they may be useful for closing a deal.

While your sales team may work with a variety of tools, there are some core ones that should always be listed in this section. For example, email and calling software are essential tools for sales teams. Without them, your salespeople wouldn't be able to effectively communicate with your customer base.

5. Positioning

The positioning section should describe how your product or service is viewed in your industry. Start by outlining the market conditions, then explain how your business brings value to the industry. This information is important for new hires who need to understand how your company is different from competitors.

You can take it one step further by including a competitor analysis as well. A competitor analysis highlights your company's strengths and weaknesses and provides counterpoints to address your organization's flaws. This will help your sales team maintain consistency when communicating with customers.

6. Marketing Strategy

This section should include an overview of your entire marketing strategy. This includes any email, blog, event, video, social media, or direct mail campaigns. It's important for marketing and sales teams to work together, so your team will need to know which campaigns are being executed and when.

7. Prospecting Strategy

Your prospecting strategy should describe the steps your sales team will take to qualify leads. If this process is inconsistent, your team will have trouble closing deals. Be sure to list each step in your prospecting strategy so your team knows exactly how to engage customers.

You should first list your criteria for reaching out to a prospect. Explain what a prospect has to do in order to be viewed as a good fit for a sales pitch. Then, describe your inbound and outbound prospecting strategy. These are the steps your team takes to convert a prospect into a customer.

Now, it's time to set goals. Determine what your sales targets are and list them in this section for your team to see. This should include metrics like revenue, deals closed, and units sold. Make these goals clear to your team and keep them relevant to your work over time. If there are any lulls or declines, remind your team about your goals and what they can do to achieve them.

9. Action Plan

Once your goals are set, you'll need a plan to achieve them. This section is reserved for the steps your sales team will take to hit your goals. This includes the number of calls they'll make, locations they'll visit, and high-profile clients they'll work with. Making these quotas clear provides your team with a realistic strategy for meeting your goals.

You should conclude your business development strategy by outlining your sales budget. Explain how much you're willing to spend on your sales initiatives and forecast what you predict the actual amount will be. Be sure to consider factors like payroll, commission, travel, food, and anything else that keeps your sales team operating.

Business Development Strategy Plan Template

Now that you're familiar with every aspect of a business development strategy, it's time to create one for your sales team. To help, we put together the free template below that you can download here .


For more ways to improve business strategy, read about these business development skills .

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How to write a business development plan: a step by step guide.

How to Write a Business Development Plan: A Step By Step Guide

So we’ve already tackled how to write the infamous business plan , but now that you’re in the growth stage of your business – what’s next?

Many business owners will look to write a business development plan with the aim to make their business better. Running a business is never a stationary job, you constantly have to be looking to grow and improve.

But what exactly is a business development plan and how do you write one? Let’s find out.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Is a Business Development Plan?

How to write a business development plan, key takeaways.

A business development plan is a document put together by the business owner with the aim to grow and improve their business. The plan will set goals for growth and explain how you will achieve them.

A business development strategy can have a short-term or long-term focus, or both. They should also be constantly reviewed and revised as things shift and your goals may change.

A health plan is one that builds as your business evolves.

development strategy business plan

A standard business development strategy can be split up into 6 different sections, each one with a different aim and purpose. These sections are:

You should always be looking to grow your business. In this section, you will identify where growth will come from. For example, whether it’s new product development, adding different services or breaking into new markets. Your main business development goals should always point towards growth.

According to a U.S. Bank study, 82% of small businesses fail because of poor cash flow management and understanding. That’s why it’s vital that you have a constant eye on your funding and your bottom line.

You need to understand how you’ll fund your business development. So in this section, you should lay out your current capital, and how much more you will need to sustain growth.

3. Financial Goals

You should have a good idea of your current revenue, costs and profits. These numbers can then be used as a starting point for setting new, more ambitious revenue goals. This is for when you have expanded and developed your business.

4. Operational Needs

When growing a business, your operational needs will change. For example, what started out as a two-person job can develop into needing a whole team of people. So in this section, you will need to identify what things about your business will need to change to accommodate and promote growth.

5. Sales and Marketing

No business can succeed without a strong and stable sales team and marketing team. As your business grows, so will your sales and marketing needs. So you will need to take the time to figure out your target market and what sales and marketing efforts will promote growth. You should then put all of your focus on those efforts.

It’s vital that your sales process and marketing strategies are strong and sturdy enough to support a growing business.

development strategy business plan

6. Team Needs

Every strong business needs a strong team around it. When you started your business, it’s likely that you shouldered a lot of the jobs and responsibilities. As your business grows, you’ll soon come to realize that you can no longer do this alone.

So as a business developer, you need to think about what jobs and tasks you are best and most effective at. You should then correctly delegate the other responsibilities to the appropriate team members. This is often a good way to figure out if you have the right team around you. If you dread the thought of offloading tasks to your team, you may not have the trust in your team that you should.

Business development plans may seem like a relatively daunting task. But once you figure out the basics then they can almost write themselves.

You need to have an open mindset, a realistic approach and the ability to accept some potential failures.

Expanding and developing a business is hard work, but with the right plan in place, you are giving yourself the best chance possible.

Are you looking for more business advice on everything from starting a new business to new business practices?

Then check out the FreshBooks Resource Hub .


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What Is Business Development?

  • Business Development Basics
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  • Business Development Process
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  • Skills Needed

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Business development is the process of planning for future growth by identifying new opportunities, forming partnerships, and adding value to a company. It involves understanding the target audience, market opportunities, and effective outreach channels to drive success.

Business development may involve objectives around sales growth, business expansion, strategic partnerships, and increased profitability. The process impacts every department, including sales, marketing, manufacturing, human resources, accounting, finance, product development, and vendor management.

Key Takeaways

  • The overarching goal of business development is to make a company more successful.
  • It can involve many objectives, such as sales growth, business expansion, the formation of strategic partnerships, and increased profitability.
  • The process impacts every department, including sales, marketing, manufacturing, human resources, accounting, finance, product development, and vendor management.
  • Business development leaders and team members need a diverse range of both soft and hard skills to meet these objectives.

How Business Development Works

Business development strives to increase an organization’s capabilities and expand its reach to achieve financial and strategic goals. This process can significantly impact various departments within the organization, utilizing their specialized skills to drive growth.

Business development serves as the thread connecting all of a company’s functions or departments. It helps a business grow and improve in areas such as sales, revenue, product offerings, talent acquisition, customer service, and brand awareness.

Business development encourages teamwork and strategic planning across all departments, ensuring that the organization grows cohesively and sustainably.

Sales and Marketing

Sales personnel often concentrate on specific markets or clients, aiming to achieve targeted revenue numbers. For example, a business development team might assess the Brazilian market and determine that $1.5 billion in sales is achievable within three years. With this goal, the sales department develops strategies to target the new market’s customer base .

Business development often requires a longer-term approach than traditional sales strategies. The Society for Marketing Professional Services describes sales as akin to hunting, while business development is more like farming—a long-term investment of time and energy without immediate payoff.

Marketing supports sales by promoting and advertising the company’s products and services. A business development leader and their team can help set appropriate budgets based on the opportunities involved.

Higher budgets enable aggressive strategies like cold calling , personal visits, roadshows, and free sample distribution. Lower budgets tend to focus on more passive strategies, such as online, print, and social media ads, as well as billboard advertising.

Legal and Finance

To enter a new market, a business development team must decide whether to go solo by navigating all required legal formalities or to form a strategic alliance or partnership with firms already operating in that market. Assisted by legal and finance teams, the business development group weighs the pros and cons of each option and chooses the one that best serves the business.

Finance may also become involved in cost-cutting initiatives. Business development is not just about increasing market reach and sales, but also about improving the bottom line.

For example, suppose an internal assessment reveals high spending on corporate business travel. In that case, the team may change travel policies such as hosting videoconference calls instead of on-site meetings or opting for less expensive transportation modes. The outsourcing of noncore work, such as billing, technology operations, or customer service, may also be part of a development plan.

Project Management/Business Planning

International business expansion involves critical decisions about whether to establish a new facility in the target market or manufacture products in the base country and import them. If opting for the latter, it may also require assessing the need for an additional facility in the base country.

The business development team evaluates and finalizes such decisions based on cost and time assessments. Once a decision is made, the project management and implementation team can begin working on the desired goal.

Product Management and Manufacturing

Regulatory standards and market requirements can vary across regions and countries. For example, a medication permitted in India may not be allowed in the United Kingdom. This can necessitate a customized or entirely new product for the new market.

Almost all countries require specific documentation and have regulations that must be met to ensure the safety, quality, and conformity of imported products.

These requirements drive the work of product management and manufacturing departments, which are influenced by the business strategy. Cost considerations, legal approvals, and regulatory compliance are all critical aspects assessed during the development process.

Vendor Management

Will the new business need external vendors ? For example, will shipping require a dedicated courier service, or will the company partner with an established retail chain for sales? What are the costs associated with these partnerships?

The business development team collaborates with relevant internal departments to address these questions and determine the best strategies for external engagements.

10 Potential Areas for Business Development

Business development often requires employees from various departments to collaborate, facilitating information flow, strategic planning, and informed decision making. Here is a summary of potential areas where business development may be involved, depending on the organization:

  • Market research and analysis : Identifying new market opportunities and developing effective strategies
  • Sales and lead generation : Prospecting, qualifying leads, and coordinating with the sales team to convert leads into customers
  • Strategic partnerships and alliances : Forming strategic alliances, joint ventures, or collaborations that create mutually beneficial opportunities
  • Product development and innovation : Conducting market research, gathering customer feedback, and collaborating with internal teams to drive innovation
  • Customer relationship management : Implementing customer retention initiatives and loyalty programs, and gathering customer feedback, to enhance satisfaction and drive repeat business
  • Strategic planning and business modeling : Identifying growth opportunities, setting targets, and implementing strategies to achieve sustainable growth
  • Mergers and acquisitions : Evaluating potential synergies, conducting due diligence , and negotiating and executing deals
  • Brand management and marketing : Creating effective marketing campaigns, managing online and offline channels, and leveraging digital marketing techniques
  • Financial analysis and funding : Exploring funding options, securing investments, or identifying grant opportunities
  • Innovation and emerging technologies : Assessing the potential impact of disruptive technologies and integrating them into the organization’s growth strategies

The Business Development Process in 6 Steps

While the specific steps in the business development process will depend on the particular company, its needs and capabilities, its leadership, and its available capital, some common steps include:

Step 1: Market Research/Analysis

Begin by conducting comprehensive market research to gain insights into market trends, customer needs, and the competitive landscape. Analyze data and gather additional information to identify potential growth opportunities and understand market dynamics.

Step 2: Establish Clear Goals and Objectives

Leveraging that research, define specific objectives and goals for business development efforts. These goals could include revenue targets, market expansion goals, customer acquisition targets, and product or service development. Setting clear goals provides a focus and direction for the business development process.

Step 3: Generate and Qualify Leads

Use various sources, such as industry databases, networking , referrals, or online platforms, to generate a pool of potential leads. Identify individuals or companies that fit the target market criteria and evaluate them based on predetermined criteria to determine their suitability and potential value.

Step 4: Build Relationships and Present Solutions

Initiate contact with qualified leads and establish relationships through effective communication and engagement. Utilize networking events, industry conferences, personalized emails, or social media interactions to build trust and credibility.

As your relationship forms, develop and present tailored solutions that align with the client’s needs. Demonstrate the value proposition of the organization’s offerings and highlight key benefits and competitive advantages.

Step 5: Negotiate and Expand

Prepare and deliver proposals that outline the scope of work, pricing, deliverables, and timelines. Once the client agrees, collaborate with legal and other relevant internal teams to finalize and execute the contract to ensure all terms are clear and agreed upon. Maintain communication with the client throughout this process to address any questions or concerns.

Step 6: Continuously Evaluate

Continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of business development efforts. Analyze performance metrics , gather feedback from clients and internal stakeholders, and identify areas for improvement. Regularly refine strategies and processes to adapt to market changes and optimize outcomes.

While it’s common for startup companies to seek outside assistance in developing the business, as a company matures, it should aim to build its business development expertise internally.

How to Create a Business Development Plan

To effectively create and implement a business development plan, the team needs to set clear objectives and goals—ones that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). You can align these objectives with the overall business goals of the company.

Companies often start by analyzing their current state through a  SWOT analysis , evaluating their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This helps identify target markets and customer segments and define a unique value proposition.

The external-facing stages of a business development plan are crucial. These stages should outline sales and marketing strategies to generate leads and convert them into customers. They should also explore potential strategic partnerships and alliances to expand reach, access new markets, or enhance offerings.

Teams should also conduct a financial analysis and resource planning to determine the resources needed for implementing the plan. Once implemented, progress should be tracked against the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ve chosen to ensure the plan’s effectiveness.

Skills Needed for Business Development Jobs

Business development requires a wide range of hard and soft skills.

Leaders and team members in business development need well-honed sales and negotiation skills to interact with clients, understand their needs, and influence their decisions. They must build rapport, handle challenges, and close deals. Effective communication, both verbal and written, with customers and internal stakeholders, is crucial.

Business development specialists should be thoroughly aware of the market in which they operate and keep up with market dynamics, competitive activities, and industry developments. They need to identify potential opportunities, make informed decisions, and adjust strategies as necessary, requiring strong analytical skills.

Internally, business development practitioners must clarify priorities, set realistic deadlines, manage resources efficiently, and monitor progress to guarantee the timely completion of tasks.

Finally, business development professionals should conduct themselves with high ethical standards. They must maintain confidentiality, act legally and ethically, and build trust with customers and stakeholders.

Why Is Business Development Important?

In addition to its benefits to individual companies, business development is important for generating jobs, developing key industries, and keeping the economy moving forward.

What Are the Most Important Skills for Business Development Executives?

Development executives need to have leadership skills, vision, drive, and a willingness to work with a variety of people to get to a common goal.

How Can I Be Successful in Business Development?

Having a vision and putting together a good team are among the factors that help predict success in business development. A successful developer also knows how to write a good business plan, which becomes the blueprint to build from.

What, in Brief, Should a Business Development Plan Include?

A business development plan, or business plan , should describe the organization’s objectives and how it intends to achieve them, including financial goals, expected costs, and targeted milestones.

Business development is key to companies’ growth and achievement of their goals. It involves setting clear objectives, leveraging market research, forming strategic partnerships, and aligning efforts across all departments to drive success.

A well-executed business development plan not only supports short-term revenue growth but also ensures long-term sustainability. As companies across various industries increasingly recognize its importance, the role of business development continues to grow.

Society for Marketing Professional Services. “ What Is Business Development? ”

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A strong business development strategy allows your business to create strong relationships with promising prospects and generate revenue.

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If you ask 10 professionals what business development, or ‘biz dev,’ is, you’ll likely get 10 different answers.

To some, business development is just another term for sales. Many view it as the process of forming strategic partnerships. Others define it as a marketing tactic.

Business development expert Scott Pollack describes it best : “Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets and relationships.”

This makes business development unique from other professional fields because the day-to-day tasks vary greatly by industry and by the specific needs of each organization. It is often the link between several different departments, such as marketing, branding and sales, and business development professionals collaborate with these teams to discover opportunities and develop relationships that ultimately have a positive impact on the organization.

Sales vs. business development

It’s easy to view business development as a sales process, but they’re not quite the same job.

The main objective of sales is to close deals with customers to drive revenue and maintain a high profit margin. A salesperson works at the end of the sales funnel to close deals, ensure products or services are delivered, and create repeat customers.

Business development, on the other hand, looks for prospects, nurtures relationships and guides leads toward the sales funnel. It is the process of identifying ideal customers and partnerships, building relationships and developing solutions that can then be handed off to the sales team to close.

While they are two very different roles within an organization, sales and business development work in tandem to generate revenue and grow the business.

Why you need a business development strategy

A strong business development strategy is the roadmap that instructs your team how to find and generate high-value leads to support your long-term goals.

Without a strategy, your team may struggle to find qualifying prospects or, at worst, spend months developing a relationship with prospects who don’t convert.

Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets and relationships.

Scott Pollack, business development expert

How to create a business development strategy for your business

There are four main steps to take in creating a firm, reliable business development strategy.

Identify your audience

Creating a successful business development strategy starts with identifying your ideal audience. Focus on specific firms or individuals that will propel your business forward. You don’t need to have a large audience, but you do need a high-quality one.

Business development can be a long process, and the relationships you develop may take months or even years to turn into a sale. The last thing you want is to foster a relationship with an unqualified prospect.

Perform market research

Once you have defined your audience, learn everything you can about them. Before you can encourage your audience to work with you, you have to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are their primary issues?
  • What specific services do they need?
  • How are they solving their problems right now?
  • How does your product or service improve their current situation?

With these questions answered, you can start analyzing your competition. Understand what makes you different from all of your competitors. This is the competitive advantage that you will use to communicate your value to prospects.

Determine which channels to use

The next step is to assess your total revenue goals for the year and determine which channels will help you achieve that target. The most common business development channels are a combination of networking, referrals, advertising, cold calls and content marketing.

  • Networking is one of the oldest and most commonly used business development strategies. Depending on your industry, face-to-face networking may still be the best way to connect with your target audience and build strong relationships. However, this method of networking can be time-consuming and expensive, so many industries have shifted to primarily digital networking through social platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Referrals can be a great business development strategy, as a positive relationship with a satisfied customer can lead you to a whole new network of prospects. Many small businesses get most or all of their business from referrals. However, relying on your clients to drum up business for you is passive and may not always result in steady leads.
  • Paid advertising , especially through digital platforms, is another solid business development tactic. The key to digital advertising is to find your target audience on their preferred platform and start there. If your audience are avid YouTube users, create strong, targeted video ads and post them there. If your audience has a high engagement rate with your brand on Twitter, advertise there.
  • Content marketing has become one of the best ways for companies to interface with their audience and showcase their expertise. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute , content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. It has a strong ROI, and it gives your audience the space to discover your brand organically.

Define S.M.A.R.T. goals

For each channel, set S.M.A.R.T—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-related— goals to measure and track your progress. Your business development goals don’t have to be directly tied to generating revenue, but they should involve methods of introducing prospects to your sales funnel.

If you need help or inspiration defining your goals, take a look at these five S.M.A.R.T. goals for business development from Rapidan Inbound.

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Meet any target: business development plan template

development strategy business plan

A company’s goals are an integral part of its productivity. When your team understands what targets they need to hit, they have something clear to strive for and feel a sense of pride when they succeed. Setting intentions about where your business is going and how to get there is an important part of the building process.

Gain clarity about what your company’s objectives are with the help of a free business development plan template. We’ll share a fully customizable template with you that you can use on monday.com. But before that, this article looks at the benefits of using such templates and what you should include in a business development plan.

Get the template

What is a business development plan template?

development strategy business plan

A business development plan template is a customizable document that outlines the objectives of your business and actionable steps to meet them. These can be your company’s long or short-term goals, amounts needed for start-up costs, or specific milestones, such as hitting a specific monthly sales target, or getting your first repeat client. The plan outlines steps to take to get to those goals and assigns specific tasks to individuals to hold them accountable for meeting the deadlines.

A business development plan template is a pre-formatted tool that describes your business objectives and how you’ll achieve them.

Although you can always write these plans down in a regular, static document, many businesses opt to use a customizable pre-built format to get off to a strong start.

Why use a business development plan template?

As a business owner, creating a custom, agile business development plan helps you gain clarity regarding decision-making on areas, such as investments, resources, and budgeting. Unlike with pen and paper, or even a word doc, a template is dynamic. You can move initiatives around, assign ownership, store all relevant information on the template itself, and customize any aspect of the template from labels, template structure and appearance, automations, and more.

Of course, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to creating a well-thought-out document. Below, we’ll discuss some of the things you may want to consider and include in your business development plan.

What to include in a business development plan

A business development plan comes into play during the growth stage of your business. By specifying your targets and plans of action, the business development plan becomes a roadmap for achieving growth and success. To ensure you have a strong plan, consider including the elements summarized below.

Financial goals

A business’s growth is largely based on its financial success, so it’s critical to assess your current financial position to set targets for the future. Start by:

  • Looking to your past and current revenue as a baseline for what your business brings in
  • Assessing your overhead costs versus your profits
  • Setting goals for bringing in higher profits and revenue in the coming months and years
  • Getting specific about your timeline, so you can reassess your financial position when you hit those dates

Funding plan

Meeting your financial goals and achieving financial growth requires funding. Use this section of the business development plan to determine the amount of business capital you currently have and what steps you can take to secure more funding in the future within your target market segment.

Opportunities for growth

Look at your business to identify where you have room to grow. This will vary depending on what industry and business you work in. For some, this might mean developing a new line of products or adding additional services that can attract new clients and boost revenue.

Operational needs

Examine operational needs and take a practical look at what needs to change in the daily function of your business to support expansion and further development. This could mean investing in new equipment or hiring additional personnel to oversee specific departments or projects.

Sales and marketing plans

An important part of business growth is how you promote your company to consumers. Determine a marketing strategy to get customers excited about your new products and services or to inform consumers of investments you’re making in equipment upgrades. Your marketing plans are how you’ll communicate your investments and improvements to drive growth through customer interest.

Understand strengths and weaknesses 

Creating a business development plan requires a firm understanding of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. To identify these, consider performing a SWOT analysis . You can use the resulting information to develop a strategic plan to leverage strengths and improve on weak areas across all aspects of your business.

Building your team

For a business to grow successfully, you must also expand your workforce. This means hiring new team members and learning to delegate tasks with a lower priority or difficulty level, so you can focus on matters of high-level priority. Use this part of your plan to assess what tasks you can assign to someone else and how many people you might need to hire to meet the demands of your growing business.

Having a plan to develop your business is a great foundation. But you also need tools to put that plan into action. Starting with a solution that lets you bring people together, communicate priorities, and manage tasks can increase your chances of success.

monday.com supports business development and planning

Your business development plan template is the starting point for your company’s expansion. As you move toward creating targets and future plans for your business, you can make use of the many other features and templates on monday.com to understand where you’re at with your business and what areas are ready to support growth.

monday.com lets you create workflows to plan and track projects and day-to-day processes. Connect off-platform tools necessary for collaboration and communication with team members from around the world, and leverage no-code automation opportunities to streamline repetitive tasks.

You can start with our Business Development Plan Template, customizing the columns to meet your specific needs.  Take notes, mention team members on tasks to get their feedback, or color-code your business development plan to create a visual that’s easy to digest at a glance.

development strategy business plan

Once you’re ready to put your business development plan into action, turn to our Template Center for plenty of other tools to help you get started on various tasks.

Related templates 

A business development plan template isn’t the only useful tool for growing your business. Consider some of these other options to help your teams increase efficiency and promote growth.

One-page business plan template

Our easy-to-use One-page Business Plan Template is meant to provide an overview of your objectives and deadlines at a glance. Completing the one-page business plan template creates a reference point for the scope of your business objectives that you can easily return to at any time.

Business executive summary template

Our Business Executive Summary Template is an ideal tool when you’re preparing to pitch your company to investors. It offers a guide for emphasizing the core of your business plan in a way that appeals to the interests of your target audience. You can include sales/marketing plans, staff expenses, and long-term goals to provide prospective stakeholders with a clear picture of where your business stands and where it’s going.

Writing business plans is easier when you start with a template. But knowing what to include and what might be most important can help you make the most of such documents. Check the FAQs below for some more tips.

FAQs about business development plan templates

development strategy business plan

What are the main parts of a business plan?

A solid business plan should have four key components. The main parts of a business plan include:

  • An executive summary
  • A marketing plan
  • Key management bios
  • A financial plan that includes cost and pricing information

What is the most important part of a business plan?

The executive summary is the most important part of any business plan. The executive summary acts as the preface to the overall business plan and the hook that gets readers excited about the possibility of investing in your company. The goal of the executive summary is to entice the investor to read the rest of your plan, so aim for the most polished version possible.

Build your company’s future with a business development plan template from monday.com 

Your business development strategy is critical to growing your company and meeting future goals. Using templates from monday.com can help you build your business development plan to drive success.

Having a business plan creates a 30% higher chance of growth for your business compared to businesses that don’t start with written action plans. A customizable, user-friendly business development plan template provides a starting point to realizing your objectives.

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Strategic Planning: How to Write a Strategic Plan That Works

Strategic Planning: How to Write a Strategic Plan That Works

Learn the essential steps to writing a strategic plan that delivers real results and aligns with your business objectives. Contact us for more information!

Strategic planning is essential for any organization aiming to achieve its long-term goals and sustain growth. ClearPoint Strategy offers a powerful platform that streamlines the strategic planning process, making it easier for your organization to develop, implement, and monitor your strategic initiatives.

See ClearPoint Strategy in action! Click here to watch a quick DEMO on the software

“Why isn’t my strategy working?”

Statistics around the failure rates of corporate strategies vary—some put it as high as 9 out of 10 while others say nearly 7 out of 10.

It doesn’t matter which number is right; both estimates are higher than they should be. That means the majority of organizations are floundering when it comes to crafting and executing their strategy. Many executives, when faced with these stats, are wondering, “How do I avoid coming up short in my strategy?”

But don’t worry—these abysmal statistics don’t mean you’re doomed to failure. You can be in the small percentage of businesses that actually achieve the goals in their strategic plans, and we’re here to tell you how. (You’re already a step ahead of your competitors simply by taking the time to research the problem!)

Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of clients beat the odds using the steps outlined in the guide below. It covers everything you need to know about strategy planning and execution, from beginning to end, in each of the three critical phases:

  • Preparing for strategic planning
  • Creating your strategic plan
  • Putting your strategic plan into practice

Based on our experience, we know that following this three-phase approach will significantly increase your odds of getting high-quality results. ‍

So let’s get started.

What is Strategic Planning and Why is It Important?

Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its direction and long-term goals, creating specific plans to achieve them, implementing those plans , and evaluating the results. On one hand, that definition makes strategy planning sound like a Business 101 concept—define your goals and a plan to achieve them. Unfortunately, the strategic planning process isn’t as straightforward as it seems, especially for large companies.

Some experts say there’s a simple explanation behind the dismal statistics mentioned above: companies are failing to strategize at all. They may talk a good game and be able to explain an innovative new mission, but they cannot articulate the processes and business models that will make it happen.

As a result, nothing about their way of doing business—including their priorities, projects, or culture—changes. Months or years later, strategic leaders are left wondering why the company never achieved what was intended.

This absence of a strategic plan demonstrates why having one is so important.

The strategic planning process is about looking forward, outside the immediate future for your organization, to reach a particular set of goals. But as noted in the definition above, it also involves laying out—step-by-step—how you’re going to get there. Without this foundation in place, you’ll either continue on a path to nowhere, or get caught up in a tornado of urgent activities that may not actually benefit your organization in the long term. Neither of these scenarios will give you the competitive edge you hoped for.

Why Strategic Planning Fails

There are also plenty of organizations that do take steps to fulfill the requirements of strategic planning, yet still fail to see results. These strategies fail for many reasons, including:

  • Lack of communication : This is a big one. Research shows that 95% of most companies’ employees don’t understand their organization’s strategy, and 85% of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy.
  • Poor research around customer trends, organizational threats, and market opportunities : Companies tend to spend more time on internal issues (resolving conflicts and reconciling budgets) than they do analyzing important external information.
  • Lack of management support : Organizations neglect to rally support for middle managers, who are key to making sure strategy is executed on a daily basis.
  • Ineffective or inefficient performance evaluations : Organizations dedicate all their time to coming up with a plan, but either forget to follow through by tracking progress or have no organized, reliable way to track performance data.
  • Lack of clear priorities : Organizations try to do too much at once and/or fail to identify the right activities that will help them achieve their strategy.
  • Insufficient resources : Companies don’t acquire new resources, or shift existing resources, to support identified priorities.
  • Disjointed departmental goals and activities : There’s no alignment of departmental goals with organizational strategy. Without everyone working together, goals become more difficult to reach.

Whatever is preventing you from meeting your strategic goals—whether it’s the absence of a strategic plan altogether or an imperfect plan execution—it’s worth your time to address the issue.

Analysis has shown that strategic planning has a positive and significant impact on organizational performance. Most importantly, it enhances an organization’s ability to achieve its goals, but there’s more to it than that. Because strategic planning forces companies to adopt a long-term view, it helps them better prepare for the future, setting them up to initiate influence instead of just responding to situations.

It also strengthens communication between employers and employees. The participation and dialogue that takes place among managers and employees throughout the strategic planning process improves transparency and engagement on everyone’s part.

However, the same team that conducted the above analysis also noted that, for strategic planning to work, it requires some specific ingredients, including formal analysis of the internal and external environment, consideration of several strategic options, and careful consideration around whom to involve during the different steps of the strategic planning process. We’ll go through all these ingredients—and more—in the strategic planning guide that follows.

Claim your FREE eBook on 8 effective strategic planning templates here

1. preparing for strategic planning, - gather your team, set up meetings, and create a timeline, get the right people involved.

Let’s get one thing straight right now: If your organization has turned to you (or your department, a colleague, etc.) and requested that you “make a strategic plan and then report back to the leadership team when you’re done”—stop right where you are. That’s not an effective plan. Why? You need to have buy-in across your organization, and so you need leadership involvement from the beginning.

Now let’s talk about the major player needed for this process: The strategic planner. The strategic planner’s job is to align thoughts from the leadership team with a process the organization can use to execute on their strategy. If this is your role (or even if you’re just highly involved in the process), this guide will be immensely helpful as you navigate the coordination of the strategy.

The strategic planner will also need the help of a cross-functional team that involves members of the board or leadership, along with representatives from finance, human resources, operations, sales, and any other critical functions. We’ll discuss this further when we talk through the Office of Strategy Management.

Set up your strategy review meetings

This is also a good time to think about your strategy review meetings, which are a necessity for staying on track over the long haul. However, try to avoid adding yet another meeting onto everyone’s plates; instead, there may be a current meeting you can replace or redesign to make time for strategy discussion.

For now, decide how often you’ll meet and who should be involved. As for timing, there are three types of strategy review meetings:

  • Monthly , where you review progress on projects and initiatives
  • Quarterly , where you review progress on strategy and discuss key action items
  • Annually , where you review year-to-date performance and adjust the strategy as needed

For each of these, you’ll want to send out calendar invites in advance and make sure people know these meetings are a top priority.

Monthly meetings typically include department heads and subject matter experts. Quarterly review meetings may include department heads and upper management. Annual refresh meetings may include upper levels of management and occasionally board members.

Download your FREE 40-page eBook to lead effective Strategy Review Meetings

Create a reasonable timeline.

Next, you need to work out a timeline in which you can complete your strategic plan and move through the process. Reasonable is the key word here, as that depends on your organization’s maturity level with regard to strategic planning.

  • If you refresh your strategic plan every year, you might be able to work through this process in 4-5 weeks .
  • If you’ve never done strategic planning before, 6 months could be more realistic.

Whatever the case, don’t expect this to be done by the end of the week. You’ll be disappointed.

It’s important to understand strategy vs. tactics . Strategy is focused on the destination and how you are going to get there, and tactics are focused on the specific actions you plan to take along the way.

So while this whole process is focused on your overall strategy (i.e. your long-term goals and how you’ll achieve them), we’ll be placing a lot of emphasis on the smaller steps (i.e. practices, resources, initiatives) you’ll take to get there. Make sure your leadership team knows the difference between strategy and tactics going forward!

Sometimes it is smart to keep leadership out of the tactics, but other times, you might need a strong hand to guide the organization through some details.

- Gather the inputs to your Strategic Plan

Get appropriate background information for your strategic plan.

Now it’s time to dig into your internal and external information.

  • Internal inputs : Do you know if one branch of your business is growing faster than another? If so, does this mean you’ll focus more energy on the faster growing area, or shift to help the underperforming areas? These are key questions you’ll have to assess. ‍
  • External inputs : You may find that parts of your business have shifted, or outside factors are playing a role in where your business is headed. For example, in the late 1990s, the music industry evolved from albums to streaming, impacting many businesses who were associated with the industry. Or if you’re in the manufacturing industry and do a great deal of business overseas, political unrest or a trade dispute between your country and the foreign one you operate in could impact your strategy.

Once you’ve gathered up the quantitative data from the sources above, you’ll also want to get feedback from a number of different sources:

  • Discuss the above findings with your leadership team and managers to see what their thoughts are about the future of the business.
  • Talk with board members, customers, and industry experts to see what they think your organization is doing well and what needs improvement. These suggestions could deal with anything from operations to company culture.

Combined, all of this data will help you get a better grasp on the future of the business.

‍ Don’t reinvent the wheel—use our assortment of strategic planning templates to get your strategy up and running more easily. See our most popular templates here.

‍ A SWOT Analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This exercise offers a helpful way to think about and organize your internal and external data.

  • What are your organization’s strong points?
  • What are your organization’s weak points?
  • Where are your biggest opportunities in the future?
  • What are the largest threats to your business?

Sometimes it is helpful to use the SWOT analysis framework to organize your interview questions for your qualitative data gathering.

‍ Porter’s Five Forces is another tool used to find these inputs. It’s a time-honored strategy execution framework built around the competition in your industry. Who are your rivals? What are they doing? You then need to look at the threat of substitutes. Is there another product consumers could purchase instead of your industry’s product, for example, substituting natural gas or solar for coal when it comes to electricity generation?

Now that you’ve prepared for your strategy...

  • You have a team of people who can help you with the strategic planning process.
  • You have the raw material for strategy evaluation, including internal and external data.
  • You can organize your raw data into a SWOT analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, or another strategy planning framework as you begin to create your strategic plan.

Pro tip You may have researched risk assessments, core competencies, scenario planning, or industry scans as part of your strategic planning. If you’re wondering where these tools fit, they’re all relevant to this first stage of strategic planning. They help you prepare to create the strategic plan. If you have worked through one of these tools before, the results can act as inputs to help you in the next stage.

2. Creating your strategic plan

You now have all the background information necessary to create your strategic plan! But this plan doesn’t live in a vacuum—so we’ll start by revisiting your mission and vision statements and then get into the nuts and bolts of the planning process.

- Confirm your mission and vision statements.

Mission & vision.

If you haven’t created formal mission and vision statements, this is the time to do so.

  • Your mission statement describes what your company does and how it is different from other organizations in your competitive space
  • Your vision statement describes a future state of what your organization wants to achieve over time.

Where the mission is timeless, your vision is time-bound and more tangible.

‍ Two tools that will help build your mission and vision statements:

  • OAS statement : OAS stands for Objective, Advantage, Scope. Talking through these concepts as they apply to your organization will help formulate a vision that is tangible and interactive. Note that while this exercise may be helpful to you, it is optional. You can read more about creating your OAS statement here .
  • Strategic shifts: A second tool some people find helpful is called Strategic Shifts. These are exercises for the leadership team to help them define today’s strategic priorities vs. tomorrow’s . For example, your leadership team may say, “We want to shift from central control to autonomy when it comes to our decision-making capability.” If the whole team can get on the same page with these shifts, it can help tremendously once you define your objectives, measures, and projects.

If you’ve already created mission and vision statements, confirm that both are aligned with your current strategy before proceeding to the next step.

During your search for strategic planning tools, you’ve almost certainly come across a Strategy Pyramid (shown below). This pyramid can be visualized in countless different ways, the order of the pyramid isn’t what’s important. The importance lies in ensuring you’ve chosen the elements in the pyramid that work best for your organization, and making sure those components are going to help you achieve strategic success.

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- Build out your five-year plan

Develop the framework that will hold your high-level priorities.

You can use your OAS or Strategic Shift exercises to help you define your priorities and objectives—but more importantly, you need a way to manage these elements. The way to do that is by selecting and developing a strategy management framework that will bring all your priorities together in one cohesive format.

Using a framework such as Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Theory of Change (TOC), or Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is critical to your strategic success. Many management teams fail at this point simply because of their disorganization!

Note: Choose only one of these three frameworks, as they have numerous similarities!

The Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard , developed by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, has been one of the world’s top strategy management frameworks since its introduction in the early 1990s. Those who use the BSC do so to bring their strategy to life, communicate it across their organization , and track their strategy progress and performance.

‍ The BSC divides up your objectives by perspectives—financial, customer, process, and people—and themes, like innovation, customer management, operational excellence, etc. (The idea of perspectives is fully developed in Norton and Kaplan’s book The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action .) Here’s an example:

  • Financial goals —“What financial goals do we have that will impact our organization?”
  • Customer goals —“What things are important to our customers, which will in turn impact our financial standing?”
  • Process goals —“What do we need to do well internally, to meet our customer goals, that will impact our financial standing?”
  • People (or learning and growth) goals —“What skills, culture, and capabilities do we need to have in our organization to execute on the process that would make our customers happy and ultimately impact our financial standing?”

For an in-depth look at how your organization could use the BSC, check out this Full & Exhaustive Balanced Scorecard Example .

Claim your FREE Balanced Scorecard Excel template for better strategic management

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Theory Of Change (TOC)

The Theory of Change is a logic model that describes a step-by-step approach to achieving your vision. The TOC is focused on how to achieve the change you’re looking for , and is popular amongst mission-driven organizations who are describing a change they’re making in the world instead of putting change in their pockets.

The idea behind TOC is that if you have the right people doing the right activities, they’ll affect change on your customers, which will impact your financials, and bring you closer to your vision. A great example of a this theory of change is the nonprofit RARE .

According to the Harvard Family Research Project , the steps to create a TOC are:

  • Identify a long-term goal.
  • Conduct “backwards mapping” to identify the preconditions necessary to achieve that goal.
  • Identify the interventions that your initiative will perform to create these preconditions.
  • Develop indicators for each precondition that will be used to assess the performance of the interventions.
  • Write a narrative that can be used to summarize the various moving parts in your theory.

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Objectives & Key Results (OKR)

OKR was originally created by Intel and is used today in primarily two ways: At the enterprise/department level and at the personal performance level.

  • Objectives are goals.
  • Key results are quantitative measures that define whether goals have been reached.

Claim your FREE Excel OKR template to set and achieve key objectives here

The idea is that your defined objectives and measurements help employees, managers, and executives link to and align with overall strategic priorities. Not only does OKR strive to measure whether objectives are successful, but also how successful they are.

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Define your objectives, measures, and projects.

‍ The strategic planning frameworks above are all meant, in different ways, to help you organize your objectives, measures, and projects. So it’s critical that these elements are well thought-out and defined.

Here’s how objectives, measures, and projects interact:

‍ You have a high-level goal in mind—your objective. Your measures answer the question, “How will I know that we’re meeting our goal?” From there, initiatives, or projects, are put in place to answer the question, “What actions are we taking to accomplish our goals?”

‍ We’ve defined each of these concepts more thoroughly below with a few business strategy examples:

  • Objectives are high-level organizational goals. The typical BSC has 10-15 strategic objectives.

Examples include:

  • Increase Market Share Through Current Customers (Financial)
  • Be Service Oriented (Customer)
  • Achieve Order Fulfillment Excellence Through On-Line Process Improvement (Internal)
  • Align Incentives And Rewards With Employee Roles For Increased Employee Satisfaction (Learning & Growth)
  • Measures help you understand if you’re accomplishing your objectives strategically. They force you to question things like, “How do I know that I’m becoming an internationally recognized brand?” Note that while your measures might change, your objectives will remain the same. You may select 1-2 measures per objective, so you are aiming to come up with 15-25 measures at the enterprise level.
  • Cost Of Goods Sold
  • Customer Satisfaction & Retention
  • Percentage Of Product Defects
  • Percentage Of Response To Open Positions
  • Initiatives are key action programs developed to achieve your objectives. You’ll see initiatives referred to as “projects,” “actions,” or “activities outside of the Balanced Scorecard.” Most organizations will have 0-2 initiatives underway for every objective (with a total of 5-15 strategic initiatives).
  • Develop Quality Management Program
  • Install ERP System
  • Revamp Supply Chain Process
  • Develop Competencies Mode

- Create your strategy map or graphic strategic model

Whether or not you’re using a Balanced Scorecard as your strategy framework, you’ll benefit from using a graphic model to represent your strategic plan. While many people use a strategy map (shown in the example below), you could also use icons or a color-coding system to visually understand how the elements of your strategy work together.

If you’re just becoming familiar with how strategy mapping works, this article will teach you exactly how to read one—and what you need to do to create one.

Get your FREE eBook with Balance Scorecard strategy maps for better strategic visualization

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Now that you’ve created your strategic vision...

  • You have a fully-defined mission and vision to use as you move forward with your strategy implementation process.
  • You have chosen a strategic framework that will hold your five-year strategic plan.
  • You have defined objectives, measures, and projects, and you know how they work together.
  • You have a graphic representation of your strategic model.

Feeling the strategic fatigue? It’s okay! This is a tiring process—so be careful to tailor everything in this section to what those in your organization will tolerate. Putting your strategic plan into practice (our final step) is the key to making it all work during the strategy implementation plan, and getting these details 80% right in a timely fashion is much more important than getting them 100% right in a year.

3. Putting your strategic plan into practice

You’ve made it this far—now you have to be sure you launch correctly! To do so, you need someone from the Office of Strategy Management to push that process, ensure resources are aligned to your strategy, put a solid strategy communication program in place, and get technology to keep you organized.

- Launch your strategy

Ensure the office of strategy management (osm) is pushing things forward.

The Office of Strategy Management is comprised of a group of people responsible for coordinating strategy implementation. This team isn’t responsible for doing everything in your strategy, but it should oversee strategy execution across the organization. Typically, the OSM lives in the finance department—or it could be its own separate division that reports directly to the CEO.

Create your internal and external strategy communication plan

Internal— Be sure all elements of your strategy—like strategy maps or logic models—are contained within a larger strategic plan document. (If you use strategy software , the strategic plan document will likely be contained there.) A great way to be sure your leadership team has a firm grasp on your strategy is to ensure they each have a copy of this document, and they can describe the strategy easily to someone who wasn’t involved in the creation process .

More broadly, the strategy must be communicated throughout your organization. You should be shouting it from the rooftops to keep it top-of-mind across your organization. People won’t give it a passing thought unless you engage them—so every department head should be charged with explaining how their team fits into the strategy and why it matters. For actionable tips, check out this article that highlights how you can effectively communicate your strategic plan across your organization.

‍ External— You also need to be sure you have a plan for communicating your strategy outside the organization—with board members, partners, or customers (particularly if your organization is municipal or nonprofit). Think through how it will be shared, and which parts of it are relevant to outside parties.

Align your resources to your strategy

In the short term—which would be your next budgeting cycle or something similar—work to structure the budget around the key components of your strategy. You don’t need to completely rewire your budget, but you do need to create direct linkages between how your resources are allocated and how those efforts support your strategy. Over time, the areas that contribute less directly to strategic goals will become clear, and you can work on gradually aligning everything you fund.

But even if your budget only extends through the fiscal year, consider how you’ll align your strategy to projects in the future. For future resource allocation, link your operations (what some refer to as the “work planning process”) to your strategy. Your expectation should be that the process of aligning your resources to your strategy can happen within year two of your strategic planning execution.

- Evaluate your strategy

At this point, your strategy has been launched: Now you need to know whether or not you’re making progress! Here’s how to do that.

Claim your FREE Measure & Goal Evaluation Toolkit for streamlined analysis

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Create reports to highlight your results

Ten years ago, you may have evaluated your strategy annually. But in today’s business environment, that’s not a feasible option. At a minimum, you should be reporting on your entire strategy on a quarterly basis, or breaking down your strategy into pieces and reporting on one of those pieces each month.

The report you use should highlight progress on your measures and projects, and how those link to your objectives. The point is to show how all these elements fit together and relate to the strategic plan as a whole.

Hold regular strategy meetings

Report on strategy progress via the quarterly or monthly review meetings you scheduled early in the process.

It’s important to note that throwing together an impromptu meeting to go over results isn’t going to get you anywhere. Instead, your strategy review meetings should be meticulously organized and accompanied by an agenda. (See this article for a sample agenda.)

‍ Your meetings should revolve around three key issues:

  • What is your organization trying to accomplish? This may include reiterating your mission and vision to add context around the conversation.
  • Are you making progress toward these goals? You might review key metrics and the status of initiatives and milestones.
  • What actions need to be taken to continue making progress? If metrics are off-track, for example, what can be done to get back on course.

Encourage candid dialogue and make sure the discussion stays focused.

You may want a facilitator for the first few meetings, and you may want to script a few open discussions where a goal owner explains why they are behind schedule (red) on their goal, and the business leader offers support, not criticism. This will generate the atmosphere you need for everyone to start reporting honestly and working together to achieve the organization’s goals.

Deploy strategy reporting software (if you haven’t already)

To make strategy execution work, reporting is unavoidable. While you might be able to track your first strategy meeting in Excel or give your first presentation via PowerPoint, you’ll quickly realize you need some kind of software to track the continuous gathering of data, update your projects, and keep your leadership team on the same page.

If you want to learn more about the major areas of responsibility you should be covering in your strategy management process—and how strategy software can help with that— take a look at our ClearPoint tour .

Here are two additional helpful pieces of content as you move forward:

You’ve probably seen reference to the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” framework before. If you want to integrate this checklist, this is the time to do so. Here’s a breakdown on what it means:

  • Plan refers to creating your strategic plan.
  • Do refers to making progress on or executing on the plan.
  • Check refers to the reporting and monitoring process.
  • Act refers to taking action through projects, work plans, or the budgeting process to continue to manage and execute on the strategy.

The Benefits Of Strategic Planning (& Challenges You Should Be Aware Of)

Done right, strategy planning can benefit your business tremendously, but a certain degree of stick-to-itiveness is required to get the job done. (As we noted at the beginning of this guide, organizations that actually meet their strategic objectives are in the minority. Don’t worry, though, yours can be one of the success stories.) But those that develop a disciplined approach to both planning and execution have been shown to improve performance significantly.

‍ Why is strategic planning so effective? Because it fosters healthy organizational practices that drive better outcomes. Engaging in strategic planning will benefit you in multiple ways:

1. You have quality data available to support better decisions

Setting goals and choosing the relevant metrics to track progress toward achieving them means you always have meaningful data to reference. That naturally leads to faster, more efficient decision-making, especially when that data is readily accessible to employees at every level.

Timely, valid, and actionable information is especially valuable in situations where organizations need to react quickly, so they can make the best decisions possible for all their stakeholders.

2. You allocate resources more effectively

In Chapter 3, we discussed structuring the budget around the key components of your strategy. Doing so helps ensure resources are allocated correctly, and in a way that aligns with your goals.

Tying the budget directly to goals also makes it easy to adjust when necessary, if circumstances change and new goals are prioritized over old. For example, a local government may have had a goal to develop a green infrastructure plan at the beginning of 2020, but then had to pivot with the onset of COVID-19.

To support a new goal of developing a COVID-19 response plan, they could simply review the resources used by current projects, evaluate those projects’ priorities and budget needs in comparison to the new goal, and reallocate funds as necessary.

3. You maintain focus

Having a strategic plan brings your main focus points to the forefront, so you don’t have to dig into the details of everything your organization is doing. That means there’s no time wasted analyzing irrelevant and extensive data points in strategic meetings; instead, everyone stays focused on what is most important or where improvements need to be made.

4. You improve communication and build employee engagement.

Strategic planning is intended to create a single, focused vision of where an organization is headed. When that shared vision is communicated clearly and consistently, it inspires employees to take ownership over their role in the plan, and they are typically more motivated to do their best work. High engagement will directly impact your organization’s financial health and profitability.

3 Things To Consider Before You Embark On A Strategic Plan

Having helped hundreds of organizations—for-profit, nonprofit, and local governments included—navigate through the strategic planning and implementation process, we’ve seen firsthand the many challenges that arise along the way. There’s no “typical” scenario, but there are some common pitfalls that have the power to make or break your chances of success. Below are three things you should be aware of going into the process.

1. Everything about strategic planning takes time

Don’t expect your plan to materialize after a few meetings. The initial planning activities usually unfold over the space of several months, but strategy execution itself is an ongoing process. Anticipate devoting extensive time and effort in particular to:

  • Choosing the appropriate planning model . Before you can even begin to articulate your strategy, you need to choose a strategy framework that fits your organization’s needs. All models can be customized to suit the way your business works, but this is a key decision that will shape all your efforts going forward.
  • Creating a plan that everyone agrees on. It’s crucial for your leadership team to support the plan’s objectives if you want it to be adopted. Making sure everyone on the team has been heard and gaining a consensus is a time-consuming process.
  • Getting “buy-in” for the plan. Research shows that, on average, 95% of an organization’s employees don’t understand its strategy—there’s no surer way to guarantee failure than to neglect communicating your goals to your employees. You must continuously keep your strategy top-of-mind in a creative and meaningful way over the long term to gain the buy-in you need to succeed.

2. There is a danger of “analysis paralysis”

Data and analytics are an integral part of strategic planning. And while it may be tempting to use all your available metrics, charts, and graphs for every business decision, doing so unnecessarily can be a detriment to the decision-making process. It’s easy to find yourself drilling deeper into data when perhaps only a high-level view of the information is needed. Avoid squandering time and energy on excessive analysis by making sure the right people are focusing on the right data and actions:

Leadership should focus on organization-wide goals and progress. Teams should focus on the individual projects and daily tasks that are helping to accomplish those goals (and the data that goes with them).

3. Having a plan doesn’t mean your organization will execute on it

Good planning is only half the battle; the lion’s share of forward progress is in executing that plan. But the execution stage is where many organizations stumble. They aren’t prepared for the work involved with follow-through, both in terms of the time commitment and the tools necessary to support performance improvement. Strategy consultants are excellent guides for plan creation, but most offer no guidance on how to carry it out; as a result, organizations are left floundering.

It’s imperative to have a system in place that will measure and monitor your progress toward goals during the execution phase. Performance management tools like ClearPoint allow organizations to track a variety of metrics related to strategic projects, helping to maintain focus over the long term. And our team of strategy implementation experts is always available to provide guidance on every aspect of execution, from setting up an efficient management process to using our reporting tools optimally.

With the right plan in place, tools to support it, and committed leadership, every organization has a good chance of seeing their strategy come to life.

See ClearPoint Strategy in action! Click here to watch our quick 6-minute demo

You’ve made it through these steps…..

...but be sure to place a great deal of emphasis on rightsizing this process for your own organization.

Did you recently do a SWOT analysis and create new vision and mission statements? Don’t do it again.

Do you already manage with a robust set of KPIs ? Use them.

Do you currently create reports for your board and management team? Modify them or use a strategy evaluation framework to make sure they’re focused and move on.

Rather than doing everything, it’s more important to realize there is overlap between these steps. Understand how they all fit into your own strategic planning process, and then move forward with the sections you’re missing.

And if you have any questions along the way, get in touch with us. We live and breathe strategic planning and are here to help!

Transform Your Strategic Planning with ClearPoint Strategy Software

Struggling with the execution of your strategic plans? You’re not alone. ClearPoint Strategy is here to turn your strategic planning around.

Our software is designed to address the common pitfalls in strategy execution, such as poor communication, misaligned goals, and ineffective tracking. By booking a demo with us, you’ll see firsthand how ClearPoint can enhance transparency, improve alignment, and boost execution efficiency across your organization.

Don't let your strategic efforts fail—discover how ClearPoint Strategy empowers you to be among the few who successfully achieve their strategic goals. Book your demo today and start making your strategy work for you!

Book your FREE 1-on-1 DEMO with ClearPoint Strategy

What are strategic planning tools.

Strategic planning tools are methodologies and frameworks that help organizations formulate, implement, and monitor their strategic plans. Common strategic planning tools include:

- SWOT Analysis: Identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. - PESTEL Analysis: Examines political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal factors. - Balanced Scorecard: Links strategic objectives to performance metrics across financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth perspectives. - Porter’s Five Forces: Analyzes competitive forces within an industry to understand its attractiveness. - Scenario Planning: Envisions different future scenarios to plan for uncertainties. Gap Analysis: Identifies the gap between current performance and desired goals.

What are strategic planning techniques?

Strategic planning techniques are methods used to develop and implement strategies effectively. These include:

- Visioning: Creating a clear, compelling vision of the future state. - Benchmarking: Comparing performance against industry leaders or best practices. - Stakeholder Analysis: Identifying and understanding the needs and influences of stakeholders. - Environmental Scanning: Systematically analyzing external and internal environments. - Strategy Mapping: Visualizing the relationships between different strategic objectives and actions. - Resource Allocation: Determining the best use of resources to achieve strategic goals.

How can strategic planning improve the performance of an organization?

Strategic planning can improve the performance of an organization by:

- Providing Direction: Clarifies the long-term vision and mission, guiding all organizational activities. - Aligning Resources: Ensures that resources are allocated efficiently and effectively to priority areas. - Enhancing Coordination: Fosters better communication and collaboration across departments. - Facilitating Decision-Making: Supports informed, data-driven decisions aligned with strategic goals. - Tracking Progress: Establishes benchmarks and performance metrics to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments. - Encouraging Innovation: Promotes creative thinking and innovation to achieve competitive advantage.

What is strategic planning in healthcare?

Strategic planning in healthcare involves developing long-term goals and strategies to improve healthcare delivery, patient outcomes, and operational efficiency. It includes:

- Assessing Needs: Evaluating patient demographics, healthcare trends, and community needs. - Setting Objectives: Defining specific goals related to patient care, quality, and efficiency. - Resource Management: Allocating resources such as staff, technology, and funding to meet healthcare goals. - Implementing Policies: Developing and implementing policies and procedures to enhance healthcare services. - Monitoring Outcomes: Continuously tracking performance metrics to ensure goals are being met and to identify areas for improvement.

Why is strategic planning important in business?

Strategic planning is important in business because it:

- Provides Clarity and Focus: Establishes clear goals and priorities, aligning efforts toward achieving them. - Enhances Competitiveness: Helps businesses identify opportunities and threats, enabling them to stay competitive. - Improves Resource Allocation: Ensures that resources are used efficiently to achieve the most significant impact. - Fosters Long-Term Thinking: Encourages a forward-looking approach, preparing the organization for future challenges and opportunities. - Increases Accountability: Sets clear expectations and performance metrics, holding individuals and teams accountable for results. - Drives Growth and Innovation: Supports the development of new products, services, and processes to drive growth and innovation.

8 Strategic Planning Templates [FREE]

Ted Jackson

Ted is a Founder and Managing Partner of ClearPoint Strategy and leads the sales and marketing teams.

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Business Development Plan Template

Business Development Plan Template

What is a Business Development Plan?

A business development plan outlines the strategy and goals for a business to achieve growth and success. It can help with the development of new products and services, customer acquisition, market expansion and other activities that drive a business forward. The plan will also include key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and help determine when changes need to be made.

What's included in this Business Development Plan template?

  • 3 focus areas
  • 6 objectives

Each focus area has its own objectives, projects, and KPIs to ensure that the strategy is comprehensive and effective.

Who is the Business Development Plan template for?

This Business Development Plan template is designed to help business teams of all sizes and industries create a plan to grow and develop their business. It's an ideal tool for small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs who need to develop and execute a strategy to achieve their goals.

1. Define clear examples of your focus areas

Focus areas are the broad topics that you'll be tackling with your business development plan. These may include generating new business opportunities, improving customer retention, and streamlining business processes. Think about what you want to achieve and what areas you should focus on in order to reach your goals.

2. Think about the objectives that could fall under that focus area

Objectives are the goals you want to achieve under each focus area. For example, under the focus area 'Generate New Business Opportunities' you may have the objective 'Increase Sales Lead Generation'. By breaking down a focus area into objectives, you'll be able to create a plan to reach your goals.

3. Set measurable targets (KPIs) to tackle the objective

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable targets that you can use to track your progress towards an objective. For example, under the objective 'Increase Sales Lead Generation' you may set a KPI to 'Increase number of leads generated'. By setting a KPI, you'll be able to track your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your strategy.

4. Implement related projects to achieve the KPIs

Projects are the specific actions you'll need to take in order to achieve your KPIs. For example, under the KPI 'Increase number of leads generated' you may implement a project to 'Launch marketing campaigns'. Projects are the building blocks of your plan and should help you achieve each KPI.

5. Utilize Cascade Strategy Execution Platform to see faster results from your strategy

Cascade Strategy Execution Platform helps business teams create, plan, and track their strategic goals. Cascade's easy-to-use interface makes it simple to create a business development plan and track progress towards your goals. With Cascade, you'll be able to see the results of your strategy faster and make data-driven decisions to ensure success.

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Free Strategic Plan Template and Best Practices

Free Strategic Plan Template and Best Practices

Written by: Raja Mandal

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As a business owner, you know the excitement of witnessing your business thrive, outperforming competitors in a challenging market and achieving the goals you've been longing for.

Strategic planning can make all these things happen by helping define your goals, aligning your business with them, and creating a roadmap to reach them. However, you need the right template to help you get started with strategic plans like business plans, employee development, OKRs, Porter’s Five Forces and more.

That's why we've compiled a list of 11 easy-to-use strategic plan templates. These templates will help you kickstart your journey toward success or refine your existing plan for maximum effectiveness.

Along with the templates, we'll explain what a strategic plan is, its purpose and critical elements to help you get the most out of your strategic business plan.

Table of Contents

What is a strategic plan in business, 11 strategic plan templates, key elements of a strategic plan, types of strategic plans, the main purpose of a strategic plan, strategic plan vs. work plan: what’s the difference, best practices to execute your strategic plan.

  • A strategic plan is a written document outlining an organization's strategy and the tactics it will employ to achieve its goals.
  • To effectively execute a strategic plan, it is essential to clearly communicate goals, take actionable steps, remain flexible and adaptable, and regularly evaluate the plan's progress.
  • The most popular types of strategic plans include Porter's Five Forces, SWOT analysis, PEST model, VRIO, OKRs, Gap planning, Balanced Scorecards, and Blue Ocean Strategy.
  • The primary purpose of a strategic plan is to provide guidance and keep an organization focused on its objectives.
  • Save time and effort by utilizing Visme's user-friendly strategic plan templates for creating a solid strategic plan.
  • With Visme's wide selection of templates , drag-and-drop editor, and variety of design assets such as icons, illustrations, charts and graphs, creating professional strategic plans is easier than ever.

A strategic plan is a comprehensive framework that outlines an organization's vision, goals and the strategies needed to achieve them. It’s an excellent business tool that allows you to coordinate resources, capabilities and actions in a unified manner.

A well-crafted strategic plan covers important areas like analyzing the market, understanding the competition, making financial projections and creating operational strategies. With a strategic plan, you can make smart decisions, take advantage of opportunities and reduce risks for your business.

What Is a Strategic Plan Template?

A strategic plan template is a tool that helps you start or refine a strategic plan with a solid foundation. It’s a document or presentation that comes equipped with the pages or slides a strategic plan needs. Strategic plan templates come in all shapes and sizes to match your needs.

If you regularly conduct strategic planning initiatives, creating a strategic plan template for your brand will help save time and effort. You won’t have to start from scratch every time.

Now comes the most exciting part of this article—the templates. We’ve gathered together eight of the best strategic plan templates out there, so you can easily create your own long-term strategy.

1. Porter's Five Forces Strategic Plan Template

development strategy business plan

Let’s start with this Porter's Five Forces strategic plan template. The template simplifies the process of presenting each of Porter's five forces: supplier power, buyer power, competitive rivalry, the threat of new entrants, and the threat of substitutes.

Clear headings, concise instructions and visually engaging elements ensure you can input data and interpret the results effortlessly. Additionally, it includes data widgets that enable clear communication of the analysis findings. This feature enhances your ability to effectively present the results, making it a valuable tool for visually showcasing strategic insights.

2. VRIO Framework Strategic Plan Template

development strategy business plan

Maximize your business growth by utilizing this strategic plan template, which helps identify opportunities for sustainable competitive advantage and allocate resources effectively.

Each element of the VRIO framework (Value, Rivalry, Imitability, and Organization) is presented on separate slides, featuring a clean and minimal design that focuses on essential information for your strategic plan.

Personalize the slides with your brand's unique identity by adding brand colors , brand fonts and logos . With Visme's brand design tool , this process becomes incredibly easy. Simply set up your branding kit in Visme and apply your branding assets to your presentations with just one click.

This seamless integration allows your strategic plan to reflect your brand consistently and professionally.

3. Gap Planning Strategic Plan Template

Company Gap Planning Whiteboard

Do you need a tool to close the gap between your company's present and future state?

Our user-friendly gap planning template helps you visually map your organization's current situation and identify the gaps between your current position and desired goals. Defining these gaps allows you to create effective strategies to bridge them and achieve success.

The template's whiteboard format provides flexibility and promotes collaboration, making it perfect for team discussions, brainstorming sessions and strategic planning meetings . Utilize Visme's online whiteboarding tool to brainstorm with your team using this template and many other whiteboard templates like it.

Creating a strategic plan is almost impossible without effective collaboration between teams and stakeholders. That's why Visme comes with a wide range of collaborative design features that empower your team to work collaboratively.

Invite your team members via email or a shareable link, allowing them to edit, pin, circle or point out specific parts of the plan, leave comments, reply to discussions and resolve issues seamlessly.

With the live editing feature, you can edit any part of the design and the changes will be visible to every collaborator in real-time.

Here is a video guide that you can watch to learn more about how to collaborate with your team in Visme.

Visme has been instrumental in revolutionizing how businesses approach design collaboration. But don't just take our word for it; hear what one of our satisfied customers, Jaime Kelm, the Director of Business and Data Strategy at LAFC, had to say:

"I absolutely recommend Visme due to its dynamic functionality and ability to integrate everchanging media and digital technologies. That combined with a collaborative environment which empowers our team to be more efficient with time has been a huge plus."

4. Balanced Scorecard Strategic Plan Template

Balanced Scorecard Whiteboard

Are you unsure if your company is making progress in the right direction? Our Balanced Scorecard Strategic Plan Template can help you assess and measure your organization's performance in various areas.

Imagine a visual representation of your organization's performance across various dimensions, all in one place. Our template lets you see the big picture by showcasing the financial, customer, internal processes and growth perspectives. It's like having a clear roadmap right before your eyes.

By utilizing this powerful tool, you'll uncover valuable insights and pinpoint areas for improvement. You can find other strategic planning charts in the Visme template library.

5. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) Strategic Plan Template

Company OKRs Objectives and Key Results Whiteboard

As your company expands, you may encounter challenges aligning goals among different teams and departments, resulting in inefficiencies and resource wastage.

The OKRs strategic plan template offers a straightforward solution to address this issue by assisting you in effectively managing your company's goals and ensuring their successful attainment.

The strategic framework template simplifies the process by allowing you to define precise objectives and track the progress of three key results associated with each objective. Using this strategic plan template, you can streamline goal management and enhance productivity.

6. General Strategic Plan Template

development strategy business plan

The General Strategic Plan Template provides a solid foundation for businesses in the early stages of planning their growth. It covers essential components such as company vision, mission, goals, objectives, implementation strategies, and resource allocation.

Using this template ensures that your company stays focused on its mission and vision while promoting employee alignment. It serves as a simple yet effective tool to keep everyone moving in the same direction.

Customize the template by including your own text, images, brand elements and more. Editing the templates gets even easier with Visme's dynamic fields , which eliminate the need for manually entering certain information repeatedly.

Simply set your company name, address, contact information, and other details once, and the templates will automatically populate the relevant fields whenever you use them.

Watch the video below to learn more about this amazing feature.

7. Marketing Strategic Plan Template

development strategy business plan

Are you searching for a simple and clear marketing strategic plan template to guide your marketing efforts? Look no further! This template is specifically designed to assist you in strategizing and planning your marketing initiatives.

The marketing strategic plan template encompasses all the essential components required for a comprehensive marketing strategy, including a value proposition, promotional strategies, and SWOT analysis.

By providing in-depth details for each section, this template offers a deeper understanding of the crucial elements necessary to thrive in today's highly competitive marketplace.

Moreover, this template features a unique Flipbook effect , allowing you to navigate your strategic plan conveniently. Experience the flipbook-like view as each page turns seamlessly, providing a user-friendly interface for easy accessibility.

8. Communication Strategic Plan Template

development strategy business plan

Clear and effective communication is crucial for any successful business. It involves not only speaking but also actively listening and understanding your audience's needs.

With the communication strategic plan template, you can evaluate your company's current communication strategies and identify improvement areas.

Utilize a combination of complementary colors and legible fonts to emphasize the significance of communication to your employees.

Enhance your texts by utilizing Visme's text animation feature, which offers eight different styles to make them more engaging. You can also adjust the animation speed to suit your preferences.

Consider incorporating interactive elements like hotspots, clickable menus and hover effects into your visuals to engage your audience further. These additions will make your content more captivating and interactive.

9. Company Bundling Business Model Plan Template

Company Bundling Business Model Plan

Are you looking for a new strategy in your business promotion efforts? Follow the idea from this strategic plan template and bundle services together to offer packages that bring better value and more affordable prices.

In this business model strategy plan, you can highlight the packages themselves and why they’re important in terms of convenience, value and customization.

Other pages include an overview, ideal customer cohorts, and an explanation of why the approach is a good idea.

Use the AI Image Edit Tools inside the Visme editor to edit the images for your strategic plan by removing backgrounds or unwanted objects. If you have a blurry image, you can unblur it and if the image is too small, you can enlarge it.

10. Strategic Business Plan Template

Company Strategic Business Plan

This strategic business plan template spans 7 pages to get you set up with a solid foundation for your business’s strategic plan. The layout starts with an executive summary and continues with a company overview, product description, market analysis, and planned strategies.

Do you need a shortcut to create a strategic plan document like this one? The Visme AI document generator can help you with content and visuals at the same time. In the document templates gallery, choose the generator and input a prompt that explains what you need and let the AI work its magic.

11. Leadership-Based Employee Development Strategy Plan Template

Leadership-Based Employee Development Plan

Help your employees improve in their career trajectory by planning a development strategy for them that’s leadership-based and well planned out.

This template for a strategic plan includes sections such as development objectives, a candidate profile, a skills assessment, a training roadmap and an evaluation.

Work with your Learning and Development team to create the best strategy plan with this template using the workflow feature . Assign specific pages to different people, set due dates and keep track of what’s done or still needs doing. Collaborate with the team to create the best employee development strategy plan.

Though there are no universal standards for what a strategic plan should contain, there are several key elements that most plans share. Each element of a strategic plan plays a crucial role in achieving the organization's long-term goals.

Here are the five of them:

1. Vision and Mission

A strategic plan should begin with a concise statement of your organization's vision and mission. The vision statement describes what the company hopes to achieve in the long term, while the mission statement focuses on how it plans to accomplish that goal.

A clear and compelling vision and mission statement can motivate employees and stakeholders to collaborate more effectively toward achieving their objectives.

These are also the first sections you should write when creating a plan because they provide direction for the rest of the document.

2. Objectives

The next element of a strategic plan is a list of specific goals or objectives. These are the things that you're trying to achieve over a given period, such as increasing sales by 15 percent over the next year.

You should have an objective for each section of your strategic plan: marketing, finance, human resources and so on.

Set SMART goals, which stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Here is an example of a SMART goal:

Increase company revenue by 15% (Specific) through targeted marketing campaigns and expanding customer base in new geographic regions (Achievable, Realistic). Achieve this goal within the next fiscal year (Timely), allowing for clear measurement of progress (Measurable).

Visme's SMART goal-setting templates are the best tools to set and achieve your goals.

Printable SMART Goals Worksheet

3. Strategy

Once your goals are set, it's time to develop a strategy to achieve them. A strategy is a plan that outlines how you will achieve your goals. It should include what actions you will take, who will be responsible for each action and when each action needs to be completed.

This is the part where you choose how to allocate resources, differentiate from competitors and position the organization in the market.

4. Approach

The approach specifies the methods and actions to put the strategy into action. It involves using available resources wisely and adjusting to changes in market conditions.

Include a description of how you will measure success, track progress toward your goals and what resources are required to achieve them. It can also include a timeline if your goals are set for the future.

Tactics are the specific steps you take to implement your strategy and achieve your goals. They can involve changing processes, reorganizing departments and even changing personnel.

Suppose you want to increase sales by 15%. In that case, a few possible tactics could be:

  • Offer limited-time discounts or promotions
  • Implement a referral program
  • Enhance product displays and packaging
  • Increase social media presence and engagement

The difference between approach and tactics is that the approach in your strategic plan serves as the foundation or framework for deciding tactics. And tactics are the actions you will take to execute your strategic plan.

Here’s a pyramid chart template that you can use to document your sales tactics.

Sales Tactics Pyramid Chart

Strategic plans come in various types, and each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. To help you find the right one for your business, we will now provide an overview of the eight most popular strategic plan types.

Go through them and choose the best one that best suits your business needs.

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT Analysis is a widely used strategic planning tool that evaluates an organization's internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.

By conducting a SWOT analysis, businesses gain valuable insights into their current position, competitive landscape and areas for improvement. This analysis enables decision-makers to identify strategic priorities, capitalize on strengths, address weaknesses, exploit opportunities and mitigate potential risks.

With a clear understanding of internal and external factors, you can formulate effective strategies to achieve your goals.

Here’s a SWOT analysis template you can use to create your own. Customize these templates using Visme’s SWOT analysis generator to fit your business needs.

development strategy business plan

PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. The PEST analysis model helps you identify external factors that affect your business environment and can impact its success. It involves analyzing:

  • Political Factors: What laws govern your industry? How do they impact your business operations?
  • Economic Factors: What are the trends in your industry or economy? How will these trends affect your company's performance?
  • Social Factors: Who are your customers, and what does their behavior tell you about them?
  • Technological Factors: What new technologies can help your business? Are there any new technologies that will make it harder for you to compete?

To examine your business's internal and external factors, you can use this strategy alongside another one.

This whiteboard is an excellent starting point for brainstorming your company’s PESTEL analysis.

RMG Company PESTEL Analysis Whiteboard

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

This is a popular technique developed by Intel for setting goals.

An OKR is an objective, or a goal, broken down into key results (KRs), which are measurable actions taken to accomplish the objective. For example, if you want to increase sales by 10%, one KR might be “Increase website conversion rate from 2% to 3%.”

To implement this strategy, you have to set an objective and then break it down into a list of critical results.

Porter's Five Forces

If you are looking to increase your business's competitive advantage, Porter's five forces is the perfect strategic plan for you. It's a framework for analyzing your business's competitive environment and understanding where the opportunities and growth lie.

The five forces are

  • Competition in the industry
  • Competition from new entrants
  • Bargaining power of suppliers
  • Bargaining power of buyers
  • Threat of substitutes

The tool offers a simple way to quantify the threat posed by each of these forces. In addition, it provides you with a clear picture of how your business stacks up against its competition and what's preventing you from gaining market share.

Here's Porter's Five Forces Model template from Visme to help you create your own.

Porter’s Five Forces Framework Infographics

VRIO Framework

Understanding the competitive landscape and how your business measures up against your peers is the first step to developing strategies for success. The VRIO Framework helps you do just that.

The framework uses four key variables that determine a company's competitive advantage:

  • Value : Determines if the resource or capability provides value and contributes to the business's competitive advantage.
  • Rarity : Evaluate the uniqueness of the resource or capability compared to competitors in the industry.
  • Imitability : Examines the difficulty of replicating or imitating the resources or capabilities of others.
  • Organization : Assesses the company's ability to effectively organize and exploit the resource or capability for sustained competitive advantage.

Gap Planning

Gap planning is a strategic approach that helps you bridge the gap between your business's current and desired future states. It involves identifying the gaps or discrepancies between where your company currently stands and where it aims to be and then formulating a plan to close those gaps.

You need to do a gap analysis to utilize the power of gap planning. Here's how it works:

1. Identify the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. 2. Determine what prevents you from closing those gaps (for example, time, resources, or technology). 3. Develop strategies for bridging those gaps by providing solutions for each one.

Balanced Scorecard (BSC)

As the name suggests, a balanced scorecard measures organizational performance by focusing on four key areas: financial, customer, internal business processes and learning and growth.

The idea behind BSC is that organizations are more successful when they have a clear and balanced view of their overall performance.

For example, a company may excel at generating high returns but neglect customer satisfaction, leading to a decline in brand loyalty and market share.

By incorporating the customer perspective into the balanced scorecard, the organization can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to enhance customer experiences.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Imagine a market where your business faces no competition. That's a blue ocean—a market that either doesn't exist yet or where you can offer a fresh value proposition for customers.

But it's not a magic show where you wave a wand and suddenly, your business is completely unique. There's much more to the blue ocean strategy than just creating new market spaces.

The idea is to focus on what matters most to customers, develop innovative solutions and find a path where your business stands alone, free from competition.

The main purpose of a strategic plan is to set growth targets for your business and create effective strategies to achieve them, turning those strategies into actionable tasks.

The plan also helps businesses focus their efforts, prioritize objectives, and create a sense of urgency around key initiatives. It provides a framework that enables businesses to make better choices even when faced with difficult situations or obstacles.

Made with Visme Infographic Maker

While they may sound similar, a strategic plan and a work plan serve different purposes and are used at different times in business planning.

A strategic plan is a high-level document that outlines a business's long-term goals and objectives. It considers the company's mission, vision, values and overall strategy and provides a roadmap for success. A strategic plan is typically created at the beginning of a planning cycle and is reviewed and updated periodically.

On the other hand, a work plan is a more detailed document that outlines the specific tasks and activities that need to be completed to achieve the goals and objectives outlined in the strategic plan. It is a more tactical document that focuses on the business's day-to-day operations. Businesses create a work plan as part of the implementation phase of the strategic planning process.

For example, a software development team creates a work plan to outline coding tasks, testing and deadlines for a new mobile app project. Meanwhile, the company's strategic plan focuses on long-term growth by diversifying the product line, expanding into international markets and investing in emerging technologies.

If you have successfully created the strategic plan, you're just halfway there. And your execution plan is equally important.

So, follow these four best practices to get the most out of your strategic planning process.

1. Communicate Goals Clearly

Clearly define your strategic goals and ensure they are effectively communicated to everyone in your organization. This helps align all employees towards a common objective and ensures everyone understands their role in achieving it.

2. Take Actionable Steps

Break down your strategic goals into actionable steps or initiatives. Assign responsibility and create a system of accountability to ensure these steps are executed effectively and on time. Regularly review progress and make adjustments as needed.

3. Stay Flexible and Adaptable

Recognize that the business environment is dynamic, and plans may need to be adjusted. Remain open to feedback and monitor changes in the market or industry that may impact your strategic plan. Build flexibility into your plan to allow for timely adaptations, seize emerging opportunities, or address unexpected challenges.

4. Evaluate Regularly

Establish a system for ongoing evaluation and learning. Regularly assess the progress and outcomes of your strategic initiatives. Identify areas of success and areas for improvement. Encourage a culture of learning from both successes and failures and use these insights to refine your strategic approach over time.

By following these best practices, you can enhance the execution of your strategic plan and increase the likelihood of achieving your desired outcomes.

Manage and Create Strategies with Confidence Using Visme

Creating a strategic plan is an important part of any business. But it's not enough to just create the plan and forget about it. You need to manage and execute this plan to achieve its goals.

Whether customizing your favorite template, collaborating with your team, or securely storing and updating the plan, Visme makes the entire process a breeze. Choose a strategic plan template from the list and customize it to make it your own.

In addition to the strategic plans and features mentioned above, Visme provides a vast selection of templates to fulfill almost all your business document creation requirements.

With over 50 different template types available, including presentations , infographics , whiteboards , budgets , roadmaps and more, there are endless possibilities for you to explore and create with Visme.

Sign-up for Visme and start creating your strategic plans now!

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Strategic planning: How to set and meet your long-term goals

July 1, 2024 - 10 min read

Morgan Jones

Strategic planning is an ongoing process that defines your business goals and creates a roadmap for achieving them. Done well, strategic planning will help you focus on your long-term business development, instead of just reacting to changes and challenges in the market.

Strategic planning is important for:

  • Creating a framework to track your progress
  • Defining the KPIs to measure your performance effectively
  • Identifying and eliminating mistakes in your planning
  • Proactively identifying new opportunities and threats to your business
  • Informing your resource allocation
  • Aligning your stakeholders around a shared purpose and objective, even when they're working across departments

It’s important to remember that strategic planning is a tool that informs your decision-making process rather than a list of steps set in stone at the start of a new business phase. Strategic plans are also different from tactical plans, which are action-oriented steps to take, or project plans, which relate to a specific aspect of your company’s work.

So, in this post, we’ll show you the  essential parts of a truly flexible and responsive strategic plan , take you through the steps to create one, and show you how to implement it in a way that supports your team.

Essential elements of a strategic plan

Let’s start with the common elements of a strategic plan and the things you can consider as you lay one out. 

The more you understand these aspects, the easier it will be to create a plan that bridges the gap between your planned strategy and the real-world work it entails. 

Values statement

Your values are the principles that guide your professional behavior and the decisions you make. In a values statement, you define what’s important to your organization and how you want to conduct business. 

Values statements influence the way businesses work internally as well as the way they build relationships with their customers. For example, values can inform everything from workplace communications , to the training and support you provide, to the way you recognize achievements within your team. 

There’s a lot of overlap between business values and company culture , and this internalization is what makes values so central to strategic planning. 

When you look at your goals for the next three to five years (the period typically covered by a strategic plan), you should make sure your plans align with the way you want your employees and customers to experience your business. 

Clarifying your values at the beginning of the strategic planning process helps you keep this in mind, even if your plan evolves.  

Vision statement

Your organization’s vision statement sets out your long-term aspirations, focusing on what you want to achieve in the future. Vision statements should be concise, aspirational, and connected to your business’s core values — like the ones you laid out in the first section of your strategic plan. 

Because of the motivational element of a vision statement, it can be helpful to involve different stakeholders from across your organization (and even your client base) when you write it. This helps create a vision statement everyone feels represented by, which you can rally around when your work runs into challenges later. 

Mission statement

In contrast to the vision statement, your organization’s mission statement describes why it exists, who it serves, and what it does. It also explains — in a nutshell — how you intend to achieve your vision. 

For example, a creative and design agency’s vision statement might be:

“ To be the premier creative agency in our city, transforming businesses through innovative visual experiences. ” 

This could translate into a mission statement of: 

“ To create exceptional, user-centric designs that combine creativity and modern techniques to drive client success. ” 

As you can see, the mission statement switches focus from the ideals laid out in the vision to the practical steps that make those ideals a reality. 

SWOT analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. SWOT analysis helps you understand the internal factors that could impact your strategic plan (your strengths and weaknesses). It also gives you a broader understanding of how your organization fits into the business landscape (the opportunities and threats). 

Another useful term for some business models is “PEST analysis,” which stands for political, economic, social, and technological. This type of “environmental scan” can give business leaders a deeper understanding of the external factors that could influence the entire organization during their next planning cycle. 

Understanding the internal and external pressures on your business before you start implementing your strategic plan will help you position yourself for success, develop strategies to gain a competitive advantage, and manage potential risks .

The business goals section of a strategic plan explains what your company wants to achieve in concrete terms. 

One of the most popular ways to approach goal setting is to use SMART principles , choosing goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

With SMART goals, you gain a clear sense of purpose (from the specificity of the plan), motivation (from the achievability and relevance of the goals), and an additional push from a deadline. What’s more, the measurable aspect means you can gauge your progress and compare your achievements to the anticipated results. 

Other goal-setting techniques used by businesses include: 

  • The balanced scorecard (or BSC) approach, which considers the goals from four perspectives: financial, customer, internal process, and learning and growth. This aligns the planned business activities with the company’s core vision and values, not just the finances.
  • Objectives and key results (OKR) frameworks, which look at the history, benefits, and key components of your goals to determine your focus. 
  • Management by objectives (MBO), which emphasizes the importance of clear goals, involves employees in decision making, and bases evaluations on whether the goals were achieved. 

Your objectives are the actions you’ll take to achieve your goals. 

To return to the agency example above, if one of the goals was to build long-term relationships with clients to ensure their ongoing success, the objectives could include:

  • Establishing a system for gathering feedback and reviews 
  • Conducting regular client satisfaction surveys 
  • Regularly sharing actionable client insights with your wider team 

Objectives start to put your strategic plan into more practical terms, so you can order or categorize them as you lay them out. Grouping or prioritizing your objectives will make it far easier to manage your resources, delegate tasks, and show your team which of the objectives they should address first. 

Action plans

Finally, your action plans , which are sometimes described as “tactics” or “approaches,” outline the specific steps you’ll take to achieve your objectives. These plans break your objectives down into actionable tasks and subtasks — the stepping stones that take you through your strategic plan.

Action plans address the way the rubber hits the road, so it can be helpful to include some buffer room in this area of your strategic plan. Some businesses even make contingency plans at this stage before introducing the plan to their team members. 

Considering contingencies now means that when changes occur, you should be able to adjust your plan rather than starting from scratch once the emergency has passed. 

When you truly get to grips with these elements, you’re more likely to see the benefits of strategic planning when work begins. These benefits include: 

  • A clear direction and focus for your team
  • Increased engagement from teams that understand their roles and goals
  • Effective decision making informed by up-to-date information
  • A proactive management approach , set up to take advantage of opportunities and address challenges as they arise
  • Long-term sustainability , based on an understanding of the business environment and risk mitigation 

Having said this, it’s essential to remember that any of these aspects could change over the course of the years you’ve planned for. Considering the vision, values, and opportunities that drive your business — and the steps you’ll take to put them into practice — should be an ongoing process as your work develops. 

When you get to grips with the idea of using your strategic business plan as a shared reference rather than a rulebook, you’re ready to create a plan of your own. 

Now, we’ll look at the strategic planning process in more detail. The examples here will show you how to bring an effective strategic plan together, align your  work with your goals, and put your team in the best position to focus, prioritize, and achieve their ongoing goals.

How to make a strategic plan: Step-by-step guide

The steps we detail here can help you create a solid but responsive strategic plan. 

1. Assess your business environment

  • Analyze internal pressures within your business 
  • Research the external environment you’re operating in
  • Gather data and feedback on your team’s past performance 

Strategy formulation starts with a thorough understanding of what’s going on inside your business and in the external environment. Alongside the SWOT analysis we discussed above, many strategic frameworks start with an analysis of your company’s current position, including your performance in the previous fiscal year or planning cycle. 

With this assessment, you’ll set yourself up to create and measure the short- and long-term goals that can bring your company’s vision to life. 

To make these judgments more accurately, strategic planners often pull up the following records at the very beginning of the process (and then continue to reference them as time goes on): 

  • Time tracking reports to assess what the team has been able to achieve in their billable hours and identify areas for improved efficiency 
  • Cash flow data to assess their budget, find out where investments can be made, and identify areas where they need to reduce waste
  • Feedback reports from customers, clients, or their team to quantify what the business does well, and identify areas where they’re not fully addressing a pain point 
  • Resource allocation, including the way tasks are delegated among the number of team members available (this information is particularly useful for human resources teams at the start of a new phase, as they may have to, for example, hire additional employees to tackle a larger project)

Once you’ve identified any issues with past performance, you can consider areas for improvement, what you can realistically achieve, and take the other factors that will impact your desired outcomes into account. 

2. Define goals, strategic objectives, and performance metrics  

  • Write out your long-term goals and break them into achievable steps
  • Decide how best to measure and compare your progress 
  • Find a logical way to visualize your tasks and your progress to keep your team on track

With the groundwork in place, you can turn your focus to operational planning and strategy development. 

In this planning phase, you consider the common goals shared across your organization. Then, you start to break them down into the short-term tasks you’ll need to achieve, and even the milestones that could make up those individual projects. 

With the goals as a framework, the next stage is to plan how to measure and visualize your progress. 

Consider which teams or team members need an overview and how to present the information in a way that fits their work. For example, while a marketing team might view a product launch as a series of dependent steps, the development team behind the scenes might be dealing with a backlog of tickets or bugs, where a linear overview doesn’t fit their more cyclical methodology. 

Finally, identify the first tasks in your strategic plan and decide who to delegate them to, how to communicate this, and how you’ll make sure the team members have the tools they need to start. This will make the execution phase much smoother. 

3. Implement and share your plan

  • Onboard your team
  • Delegate tasks 
  • Ask for initial feedback 

Prior to this stage of the process, strategic planning was largely the responsibility of senior leadership. Now, you move to strategy implementation, where you bring your team members up to speed, assign ownership of the different aspects of the plan, and give them the tools they need to track their work and collaborate. 

Your exact strategy execution depends on the size of your organization, the planning tools you prefer to use, and the structure of your teams. 

For example, you might share a plan document, explaining the next steps while emphasizing your intention to adjust the steps if necessary. Other teams might invite employees to a shared workspace where they’ll find the goals and milestones. Some teams might hold a formal meeting to launch the new strategy, whereas others will see it as an extension of their current work.

However you approach this implementation, once the team is up to speed, you can start working toward your strategic goals. Remember, it can be beneficial to ask for feedback from your team, even at this early stage, to promote transparency and make sure you’re on track. 

4. Revise and restructure 

  • Gather data on your progress 
  • Create and share reports with your team and key stakeholders 
  • Respond to changes and communicate the updated strategic plan

As we said above, successful strategic planning can respond to change. When you set out to create a strategic plan rather than a project plan or an annual business plan, you expect to adjust it as you learn more. The framework you create in the first three steps puts you in a strong position to do this. 

As your team starts to work through the action plans, you should monitor: 

  • Task status data , which can help you identify or preempt delays and bottlenecks
  • Your team’s capacity , to avoid burnout, reassign tasks, or adjust resource allocation
  • Your KPIs , to see how your real-time performance matches up to any projections or expectations you created in the initial planning phases 

Sharing reports with this information with stakeholders can motivate your team, help them adjust their priorities, and invite suggestions for improvements. The most useful reports will be based on real-time data, so you know you’re acting on the latest information, staying agile, and adjusting your plan as necessary. 

It is possible to plan for and implement these steps with spreadsheets, emails, and shared documents, but it’s not ideal. 

With several potential versions of your plan in play, it can be difficult to locate the most up-to-date information in email chains, announcements, or shared documents.

With work shared across your company, it can be hard to communicate and share resources without creating delays, bottlenecks, and information silos. 

And with collaborative, aspirational goals, you need to find a way to unite your team around your shared purpose.  

So now, let’s turn to the software features that can help you assess, define, implement, and refine your strategic planning and support your team as you put it into action.

Get the essential tools for strategic planning with Wrike

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With Wrike, you can: 

  • Assess a wealth of data relating to your work , whether you’re making a new strategic plan or adapting as you go
  • Implement your plan easily , and help your team see how their tasks contribute to your organization’s goals
  • Align your entire team , even when multiple, distinct departments have a role to play 

Note: Wrike gathers data on your team’s work, performance, and capacity as they move through their tasks, and we use this information to generate the highly detailed, targeted insights you need for ongoing strategic planning. You can also import data from XLS spreadsheets , Outlook Tasks, or MS Project when you set up Wrike, so you can start with all this essential planning data at your fingertips. 

Generate comprehensive overviews and reports to align your teams

Wrike’s real-time, dynamic workspaces make it effortless to set and share your organizational goals. In your workspace, you can list every task that makes up an objective and every milestone that represents a goal, and make sure everyone on your team knows the role they have to play. 

Most importantly, Wrike gives you multiple ways to create a business strategy map, so every subteam — and even the individuals who make them up — can view their progress in a way that makes sense for them. 

Try adding some of these views to your organization’s workspace:  

  • The Table view gives you a spreadsheet-style overview of your tasks, folders, projects, or spaces.
  • A project dashboard is configured with widgets to filter your work management data to show the headline statistics, track your key performance indicators, alert you to risks, and show you the project status information you need to plan your approach.
  • A Gantt chart helps you visualize your project timeline , find the critical path , and plan for the task dependencies that inevitably arise when a large team collaborates.
  • The Kanban board represents your tasks as cards, giving you an instant overview, helping you identify bottlenecks, and visualizing where each task sits in your workflow.
  • Wrike’s workload management tools help you accurately assess your team’s capacity and easily reassign tasks to help you meet your deadlines and goals.

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Cross-tagging for effortless resource sharing 

Wrike’s unique cross-tagging feature is a game changer for organizations that need to bring scattered or cross-team employees together. 

product screenshot of wrike cross-tagging on aqua background

Put simply, cross-tagging simplifies asset management, leads to better connectivity within and across teams, and dismantles the information silos that can slow a project down. 

Seamless communication in one platform

With Wrike, you can communicate seamlessly across your entire organization, with an intuitive system of notifications and automations. 

For example, whenever someone in your workspace is assigned a new task, they’ll receive a notification in Wrike, and also through one of the messaging platforms Wrike integrates with if you choose. The task (along with all the files and information they need to get started) will automatically appear in their personal dashboard, and they can start planning their approach straight away.

This is a fantastic way to speed up your review and approval workflows . Simply set tasks to notify designated approvers when they reach a certain status, or tag requested changes to team members with a simple @mention. 

This system speeds up your work and saves the confusion of endless internal email chains. It also builds the accountability and sense of ownership that can help keep your team on track to achieve their strategic goals. 

Strategic planning templates to get started fast

With Wrike, you can build a custom, automated workspace that meets all your team’s needs. 

Whether you’re looking for a single platform to track progress for a compact team or you need to scale up as you grow, Wrike helps you draw your strategic plan from a central source of truth and keeps everyone in the loop as you work toward your goals. 

To make strategic planning even easier, Wrike includes templates to help you build your workspace with your goals in mind. 

For example: 

  • The strategic action plan template gives you features to optimize your task management , with departmental folders; daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly dashboards; and a clear picture of your objectives.
  • The OKR template helps you define and work toward your objectives and key results at an earlier stage of the strategic planning process. This template is set up to record specific goals and metrics and determine the tactics to help you achieve them in Wrike. 
  • The business goals template will help you set clear objectives and simplify your internal strategic planning. This template focuses on assigning accountability and tracking your project milestones, so you can set solid targets, communicate effectively, and collaborate cohesively from the very beginning of your new planning cycle.

product screenshot of wrike space templates on aqua background

Plan strategically, optimize with Wrike 

Strategic planning requires oversight, nuanced understanding, and an element of flexibility. When your team works in Wrike, you access all this, and more, with ease. 

Take a look at some of the results our customers have seen: 

  • Staffing and recruiting company Aerotek cut weeks from its planning time and reduced internal emails by 85–90% .
  • Manufacturing and technology specialist House of Design saved 16,600 hours in three years by streamlining its workflows and collaboration systems.
  • TV advertising agency Marketing Architects slashed the response time on approvals from one day to only 20 minutes .
  • Health, technology, and software company Fitbit is saving over 400 hours in meetings each year, and spending 50% less time on timeline building and management. 

From your first goal-setting meetings, to bringing your team on board, to honing your plans as you learn more, Wrike gives you all the tools you need to make your strategic planning successful. 

Morgan Jones

Morgan Jones

As a Content Marketing Manager at Wrike, Morgan is focused on developing and creating content for various channels, including blog posts, articles, social media copy, and email newsletters. With 10+ years of marketing experience, she has created content and marketing materials for various industries, including tech, franchise operations, financial institutions, and an international professional association. Her interests are in communication, collaboration, and productivity. She lives outside Orlando, Florida, with her husband and three children.

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How to Use a Business Roadmap Template for Strategic Planning

How to Use a Business Roadmap Template for Strategic Planning

Strategic planning plays a crucial role in the success of any business. It allows organizations to set clear goals, align resources, define priorities, and make informed decisions. However, developing a strategic plan from scratch can be a daunting and time-consuming task. That's where a business roadmap template comes in handy. In this article, we will explore the importance of strategic planning in business and delve into the details of using a business roadmap template effectively. What is Strategic Planning? Strategic planning is the process of charting a course for the future of an organization. It involves analyzing the current state of the business, identifying opportunities and threats, and defining a clear direction for future growth. Without a well-defined strategic plan, businesses can easily lose focus, miss opportunities, and fail to adapt to changing market conditions. Similar to a roadmap, a strategic plan lays out the plan for achieving the organization's long-term objectives. It includes a framework for decision-making, helps allocate resources effectively, and assists in anticipating and adapting to any changes in the market. Key Elements of Effective Strategic Planning Clear vision and mission statements: These statements define the organization's purpose, values, and aspirations. They provide a sense of direction and inspire employees to work towards a common goal. Situational analysis: This involves assessing the internal and external factors that may impact the business. By understanding the business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, businesses can make informed decisions and develop strategies that leverage their strengths and mitigate potential risks. Goals and objectives: These are specific, measurable targets that the organization aims to achieve. Setting clear goals and objectives provides a sense of focus and direction, enabling employees to align their efforts towards achieving them. Strategies and action plans: These outline the approach and steps required to achieve the goals. Strategies provide a roadmap for how the organization will reach its objectives, while action plans break down the strategies into actionable steps, assigning responsibilities and timelines. Performance measurement: This requires tracking progress towards the goals and making necessary adjustments. By regularly monitoring key performance indicators and evaluating the effectiveness of strategies, organizations can identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions to stay on track. What Are Business Roadmap Templates? A business roadmap template is a pre-designed document that outlines the strategic goals, activities, timelines, and dependencies of a project or initiative. It serves as a visual representation of the planned journey towards achieving the desired outcomes, and it typically includes sections for defining goals, identifying tasks, allocating resources, and tracking progress. These templates tend to come in various formats, like spreadsheets, presentations, and online tools. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Template Choosing the right business roadmap template is essential so that it aligns with the organization's goals and requirements. When making a selection, it is important to consider several factors that can contribute to the effectiveness and usability of the chosen template. Flexibility: Confirm the template allows for customization and adapts to the unique needs of your business. A flexible template can accommodate changes and updates as the organization's goals and strategies evolve over time. User-friendly: Look for a template that is intuitive and easy to use, even for users with limited technical skills. A user-friendly interface can save time and reduce the learning curve, enabling teams to focus on the content and analysis rather than struggling with the tool itself. Compatibility: Verify that the template can be easily integrated into your existing tools and workflows. Compatibility with commonly used software platforms, such as Microsoft Office or project management tools, can streamline the process of creating and sharing the roadmap. Visual appeal: A visually appealing template can help engage stakeholders and make the information more accessible. Clear and attractive visuals, such as charts, graphs, and icons, can enhance comprehension and retention of the roadmap's content. Common Types of Business Roadmap Templates There are various types of business roadmap templates available, depending on the specific needs and goals of the organization. Each template serves a different purpose and provides a framework for planning and tracking different aspects of the business. Strategic roadmap: This template focuses on long-term strategic goals and the initiatives required to achieve them. It provides a high-level overview of the organization's vision, mission, and key objectives. The strategic roadmap helps align teams and departments towards a common goal, so everyone is working towards the same strategic direction. Product roadmap: This template is used to plan and track the development of a specific product or service. It outlines the product's lifecycle, from concept to launch and beyond, highlighting key milestones, features, and enhancements. A product roadmap helps product managers and development teams prioritize tasks, allocate resources, and communicate the product's roadmap to stakeholders. Technology roadmap: This template outlines the adoption and integration of technology within the organization. It identifies the technology initiatives, upgrades, and investments necessary to support the company's strategic objectives. A technology roadmap helps IT departments and decision-makers plan for future technology needs, for a smooth transition and alignment with the overall business strategy. Marketing roadmap: This template helps plan and coordinate marketing activities and campaigns. It outlines the marketing objectives, target audience, key messages, channels, and timelines. A marketing roadmap allows marketing teams to visualize their strategies, allocate resources effectively, and track the progress of their campaigns. It guarantees that marketing efforts are aligned with the overall business goals and objectives. Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Business Roadmap Template for Strategic Planning Now that you understand the importance of strategic planning and how to choose the right business roadmap template, let's dive into the step-by-step process of using the template effectively: Setting Your Strategic Goals Consider the long-term objectives of your business and identify specific outcomes you want to achieve. Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) and aligned with your vision and mission statements. Filling Out Your Business Roadmap Template Enter the goals in the designated section and break them down into smaller, actionable tasks. Assign owners, set deadlines, and establish dependencies between tasks. Use visual elements such as timelines, Gantt charts, or progress bars to make the information easier to understand. Reviewing and Adjusting Your Strategic Plan Monitor progress towards your goals, track key performance indicators, and gather feedback from stakeholders. Based on these reviews, make necessary adjustments to the plan and update the roadmap template accordingly. Overall, strategic planning is essential for business success, and a business roadmap template can greatly simplify and streamline the process. By understanding the importance of strategic planning, choosing the right template, and following a step-by-step guide, businesses can effectively utilize a business roadmap template for their strategic planning needs. Leverage a business roadmap template with Wrike's strategic planning tools. Start a free trial today and guide your business towards strategic success. Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality. 

Strategic Success: Overcoming Common Hurdles in Implementing Organizational Strategies

Strategic Success: Overcoming Common Hurdles in Implementing Organizational Strategies

The successful implementation of organizational strategies is key to achieving strategic success. However, this is often easier said than done, as organizations face various hurdles along the way. In this article, we will explore the common hurdles in strategy implementation and provide insights into how organizations can overcome them to achieve their desired outcomes. Understanding Organizational Strategies Organizational strategies are the plans and actions that organizations put in place to achieve their long-term goals and objectives. These strategies provide a detailed outline for how an organization will allocate its resources, compete in the market, and ultimately achieve success. Organizational strategies are not just limited to large corporations. They are equally important for small businesses, non-profit organizations, and even government agencies. Regardless of the size or nature of the organization, having a well-defined strategy is crucial for long-term success. The Importance of Strategic Planning Helps organizations anticipate and adapt to changes in the business environment. By conducting a thorough analysis of internal and external factors, organizations can identify potential opportunities and threats.  Assists in aligning the efforts of employees and departments. When everyone in the organization is aware of the overall goals and strategies, they can work together towards achieving them.  Provides a roadmap for resource allocation. By setting clear goals and objectives, organizations can prioritize their resources and investments.  Common Hurdles in Strategy Implementation Despite careful planning and preparation, organizations often face hurdles when it comes to implementing their strategies. These hurdles can hinder progress and prevent organizations from realizing the full potential of their strategic initiatives. Let's explore some of the common hurdles in strategy implementation. Lack of Clear Communication When the strategic goals and objectives are unclear or not effectively communicated to all levels of the organization, it can result in confusion and employees not understanding their roles and responsibilities. This lack of clarity can greatly impact the successful implementation of the strategy. Clear communication is essential in ensuring that everyone in the organization is on the same page. It helps align everyone's efforts towards the common goal, and it fosters a sense of unity and purpose. Overall, this can be accomplished by providing regular updates and feedback to employees. Open and transparent communication channels create an environment of trust and collaboration, enabling employees to contribute their ideas and concerns, ultimately enhancing the strategy implementation process. Resistance to Change Employees may resist changes that come with the implementation of new strategies due to fear of the unknown, concerns about job security, or the perception that the changes may not be in their best interest. As such, overcoming resistance to change requires effective change management strategies. Leaders need to address employees' concerns and fears by providing clear explanations of why the change is necessary and how it will benefit both the organization and the individuals within it.  Additionally, creating a supportive and inclusive culture that embraces change is crucial. Leaders should encourage open dialogue, provide training and development opportunities, and recognize and reward employees' efforts and contributions during the implementation process. Insufficient Resources Without the necessary resources, organizations may struggle to execute their strategic initiatives successfully. Therefore, it becomes imperative to secure sufficient resources and then allocate them accordingly. All of this involves careful planning, as organizations need to assess their current resource capabilities and identify any gaps that need to be filled. What's more, they need to prioritize and allocate resources based on the critical areas that will have the most significant impact on the strategy's success.  In addition, companies can explore partnerships and collaborations to access additional resources. By leveraging external expertise and resources, organizations can overcome resource limitations and enhance their strategy implementation capabilities. Overcoming the Hurdles While these hurdles can be daunting, there are strategies that organizations can employ to overcome them and ensure successful strategy implementation. Let's explore some of these strategies. Building a Strong Communication Framework Effective communication is key to overcoming the hurdle of lack of clear communication. It is essential for organizations to establish a strong communication framework that ensures the strategic goals and objectives are clearly communicated to all employees. This involves regular communication channels, such as team meetings, email updates, and intranet platforms, to keep everyone informed and aligned. In addition, organizations can leverage technology to facilitate communication. They can invest in collaboration tools that enable real-time communication and document sharing across teams and departments. These tools not only improve efficiency but also promote collaboration and knowledge sharing, which are crucial for successful strategy implementation. Managing Change Effectively To address resistance to change, organizations must manage the change process effectively. This involves providing employees with the necessary information, training, and support to help them adapt to the changes brought about by the implementation of new strategies. Engaging employees in the change process and addressing their concerns can significantly reduce resistance and increase buy-in. One effective strategy for managing change is to create a change management team or committee within the organization. This team can be responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive change management plan that includes clear communication, training programs, and support mechanisms. Businesses can also provide ongoing support to employees during the change process. This can mean coaching or mentoring programs to help individuals navigate the challenges associated with change.  Allocating Resources Wisely Organizations should carefully allocate their resources to maximize the chances of successful strategy implementation. This involves conducting a thorough resource analysis to identify any resource gaps and then allocating resources in a strategic and prioritized manner. Effective resource allocation ensures that the necessary tools, technology, and talent are available to support the execution of the organizational strategies. Companies can consider leveraging partnerships and collaborations to optimize resource allocation. By forging strategic alliances with external organizations or industry experts, organizations can access additional resources and expertise that may be otherwise unavailable. Furthermore, organizations can invest in continuous learning and development programs to enhance the skills and capabilities of their workforce. By providing employees with opportunities to expand their knowledge and acquire new competencies, organizations can strengthen their resource base and increase their capacity to execute strategies effectively. The Role of Leadership in Strategy Implementation Effective leadership plays a crucial role in driving successful strategy implementation. For instance, leaders must clearly articulate the vision and purpose behind the organizational strategies. They need to craft a compelling narrative that resonates with employees and inspires them to actively participate in the implementation process. By providing a clear sense of direction, leaders can create alignment and drive momentum towards the achievement of strategic goals. Leaders must also encourage team collaboration, by creating an environment that fosters open communication and values diverse perspectives. By promoting teamwork and collaboration, leaders can leverage the collective intelligence and creativity of their teams, leading to innovative solutions and successful strategy implementation. Implementing organizational strategies is a complex process that requires careful planning, effective communication, and perseverance. By understanding the common hurdles faced during strategy implementation and employing the strategies outlined in this article, organizations can overcome these hurdles and achieve strategic success. Through clear communication, effective change management, and resource allocation, organizations can navigate the path towards successful strategy implementation, ultimately driving sustainable growth and competitive advantage. Unravel strategic success by overcoming common hurdles in implementing organizational strategies with Wrike. Start your free trial now and set your organization on the path to success. Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality.

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How to Write a Business Plan: Your Step-by-Step Guide

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So, you’ve got an idea and you want to start a business —great! Before you do anything else, like seek funding or build out a team, you'll need to know how to write a business plan. This plan will serve as the foundation of your company while also giving investors and future employees a clear idea of your purpose.

Below, Lauren Cobello, Founder and CEO of Leverage with Media PR , gives her best advice on how to make a business plan for your company.

Build your dream business with the help of a high-paying job—browse open jobs on The Muse »

What is a business plan, and when do you need one?

According to Cobello, a business plan is a document that contains the mission of the business and a brief overview of it, as well as the objectives, strategies, and financial plans of the founder. A business plan comes into play very early on in the process of starting a company—more or less before you do anything else.

“You should start a company with a business plan in mind—especially if you plan to get funding for the company,” Cobello says. “You’re going to need it.”

Whether that funding comes from a loan, an investor, or crowdsourcing, a business plan is imperative to secure the capital, says the U.S. Small Business Administration . Anyone who’s considering giving you money is going to want to review your business plan before doing so. That means before you head into any meeting, make sure you have physical copies of your business plan to share.

Different types of business plans

The four main types of business plans are:

Startup Business Plans

Internal business plans, strategic business plans, one-page business plans.

Let's break down each one:

If you're wondering how to write a business plan for a startup, Cobello has advice for you. Startup business plans are the most common type, she says, and they are a critical tool for new business ventures that want funding. A startup is defined as a company that’s in its first stages of operations, founded by an entrepreneur who has a product or service idea.

Most startups begin with very little money, so they need a strong business plan to convince family, friends, banks, and/or venture capitalists to invest in the new company.

Internal business plans “are for internal use only,” says Cobello. This kind of document is not public-facing, only company-facing, and it contains an outline of the company’s business strategy, financial goals and budgets, and performance data.

Internal business plans aren’t used to secure funding, but rather to set goals and get everyone working there tracking towards them.

As the name implies, strategic business plans are geared more towards strategy and they include an assessment of the current business landscape, notes Jérôme Côté, a Business Advisor at BDC Advisory Services .

Unlike a traditional business plan, Cobello adds, strategic plans include a SWOT analysis (which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and an in-depth action plan for the next six to 12 months. Strategic plans are action-based and take into account the state of the company and the industry in which it exists.

Although a typical business plan falls between 15 to 30 pages, some companies opt for the much shorter One-Page Business Plan. A one-page business plan is a simplified version of the larger business plan, and it focuses on the problem your product or service is solving, the solution (your product), and your business model (how you’ll make money).

A one-page plan is hyper-direct and easy to read, making it an effective tool for businesses of all sizes, at any stage.

How to create a business plan in 7 steps

Every business plan is different, and the steps you take to complete yours will depend on what type and format you choose. That said, if you need a place to start and appreciate a roadmap, here’s what Cobello recommends:

1. Conduct your research

Before writing your business plan, you’ll want to do a thorough investigation of what’s out there. Who will be the competitors for your product or service? Who is included in the target market? What industry trends are you capitalizing on, or rebuking? You want to figure out where you sit in the market and what your company’s value propositions are. What makes you different—and better?

2. Define your purpose for the business plan

The purpose of your business plan will determine which kind of plan you choose to create. Are you trying to drum up funding, or get the company employees focused on specific goals? (For the former, you’d want a startup business plan, while an internal plan would satisfy the latter.) Also, consider your audience. An investment firm that sees hundreds of potential business plans a day may prefer to see a one-pager upfront and, if they’re interested, a longer plan later.

3. Write your company description

Every business plan needs a company description—aka a summary of the company’s purpose, what they do/offer, and what makes it unique. Company descriptions should be clear and concise, avoiding the use of jargon, Cobello says. Ideally, descriptions should be a few paragraphs at most.

4. Explain and show how the company will make money

A business plan should be centered around the company’s goals, and it should clearly explain how the company will generate revenue. To do this, Cobello recommends using actual numbers and details, as opposed to just projections.

For instance, if the company is already making money, show how much and at what cost (e.g. what was the net profit). If it hasn’t generated revenue yet, outline the plan for how it will—including what the product/service will cost to produce and how much it will cost the consumer.

5. Outline your marketing strategy

How will you promote the business? Through what channels will you be promoting it? How are you going to reach and appeal to your target market? The more specific and thorough you can be with your plans here, the better, Cobello says.

6. Explain how you’ll spend your funding

What will you do with the money you raise? What are the first steps you plan to take? As a founder, you want to instill confidence in your investors and show them that the instant you receive their money, you’ll be taking smart actions that grow the company.

7. Include supporting documents

Creating a business plan is in some ways akin to building a legal case, but for your business. “You want to tell a story, and to be as thorough as possible, while keeping your plan succinct, clear, interesting, and visually appealing,” Cobello says. “Supporting documents could include financial projects, a competitive analysis of the market you’re entering into, and even any licenses, patents, or permits you’ve secured.”

A business plan is an individualized document—it’s ultimately up to you what information to include and what story you tell. But above all, Cobello says, your business plan should have a clear focus and goal in mind, because everything else will build off this cornerstone.

“Many people don’t realize how important business plans are for the health of their company,” she says. “Set aside time to make this a priority for your business, and make sure to keep it updated as you grow.”

development strategy business plan

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  • Business planning

How to write a business plan

24 April 2024

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If you're planning to launch a start-up or small business, this guide on how to write a business plan will help you create an effective road map to success. A thoughtfully researched, well-structured business plan can give you greater clarity on your business’s vision, help you avoid potential pitfalls and can help ensure you stay on track for your business goals. Read on to discover the essential elements of business planning, common mistakes to avoid, and business plan tips on how to make your plan compelling and ready for investors.

What is a business plan? Why is a business plan important? What to consider when writing a business plan? What to include in a business plan? Business plan formats How to write a business plan How to start a business plan What does a business plan look like? How long should a business plan be? Common business plan mistakes FAQ on creating a business plan

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a strategic document that details your business's objectives and the steps you’ll take to achieve them.

It is a tool that covers everything from your business strategy and key goals to financial projections and management structure. A business plan is also your opportunity to describe your company or proposed project in detail, showcasing both your short-term and long-term goals, budget details, and unique selling propositions (USPs).

Let's dive into understanding what a business plan looks like, why it's so important, and how you can create one for your business.

Person sitting at desk in co-working space with a laptop, writing in a notebook

Why is a business plan important?

A business plan is important because it helps you create an effective plan for your new enterprise that allows you to make informed decisions, set clear goals, and manage your enterprise effectively.

The importance of a business plan becomes clear when you want to set your business apart from the competition.

Here’s how a business plan can help:

  • Guidance and structure: A plan outlines your goals and strategies, providing a roadmap for your business.
  • Attracting investment: It's essential for attracting investors and lenders who need to understand your strategy before funding it.
  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses: Business plan writing helps identify potential pitfalls and strengths in your business idea.
  • Planning for growth: Creates a strategy for facilitating future growth and expansion.
  • Understanding your market: Includes research that helps you understand your target audience and competition.

What to consider when writing a business plan

When you write a business plan, there are important questions you need to consider.

Step 1. Understand your target market

The first step is understanding your target market. Who are they? What do they need? How will your product or service cater to these needs?

Your business plan should be designed to serve this audience. You’ll need to conduct thorough market research and include this data in your plan.

Step 2. Define your business goals

The second step is to clearly define your business goals. What do you want to achieve in the next year, five years, or ten years?

Having clear, measurable objectives will guide your business plan and help you stay focused on your end goal.

Step 3. Know your USP

Next, consider your unique selling proposition (USP). This is what sets you apart from the competition. Highlighting your USP in your business plan will not only help you stand out but also attract potential investors.

The financial aspect is another key factor. You need to have a clear understanding of your financial needs, cash flow projections, and profitability forecasts. This information is particularly important if you're seeking funding from investors or lenders.

Lastly, remember that your business plan is a living document. It should evolve as your business grows and changes.

Be prepared to review and update it regularly to reflect new goals, strategies, or market conditions. This flexibility will ensure that your business plan remains relevant and effective.

What should you include in a business plan?

When developing a business plan, it can be helpful to first look at business plan examples in your relevant industry. There is no fixed business plan template, but many plans will include the following elements:

1. Executive summary

Your business plan should start with a succinct overview of your plan that highlights the key points and creates a strong initial impression. It should be compelling enough to encourage readers to read further.

2. Company description

This section should provide an overview of what your business does, the problems it solves, and the market it serves.

3. Market analysis

The market analysis section requires a thorough understanding of your industry, target market, and competition. You should demonstrate knowledge of market trends, customer needs, and the competitive landscape.

4. Business goals

Define both your short-term and long-term objectives to provide a clear vision of where you want your business to be in the future. You can also describe how you plan to achieve these goals.

5. Products and services

You should describe what you're selling or what services you offer, highlighting how your offerings stand out from the competition.

6. Financial plan

You should include a detailed overview of your finances, including cash flow statements and profit projections. This section shows potential investors that you have a solid understanding of the financial aspects of running a business.

Your business plan is a marketing document. It should be concise, engaging, and persuasive, convincing potential investors, partners, and employees of the viability and potential of your business.

Business plan formats

Business plan format can vary depending on industry. For instance, a restaurant's business plan might feature a sample menu and location demographics, while a tech start-up may focus on development timelines and patent protections.

A small business plan is likely to look very different to a large business plan. Tailor your business plan to your specific industry and business type.

The complexity of your business plan might also depend on its purpose. If you're seeking significant investment, you'll need detailed financial projections. However, if the plan is mainly for internal use, you might focus more on strategy and team organisation.

In short, while there are common components in every business plan, the specifics can vary widely. Ensure your business plan is relevant to your industry, audience, and business needs.

Writing a business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 9-step guide for researching and defining each element in the plan.

  • Write an executive summary
  • Draft a business description
  • Conduct market analysis
  • List your management and organisation structure
  • Outline services or products
  • Define your marketing and sales strategy
  • Describe your funding needs
  • Plan financial projections
  • Appendix of supporting documents

Two people sitting at a table smiling, one is typing on a laptop and the other is holding a pen and notebook

1. Write an executive summary

This is a brief overview of your business plan. It should include your business’s name, location, and the products or services you offer. Also mention your mission statement and your business’s USP (unique selling proposition). Remember, the executive summary should be concise yet compelling, persuading the reader to learn more about your business.

Your executive summary should include:

  • Business concept: What does your company do? What are your products or services? This section should clearly articulate your business’s core concept.
  • Company information: Include the company’s name, when it was founded (if applicable), the names of the founders and their roles, the team and size, and location of premises.
  • Growth highlights: If your business is already established, describe how much it has grown since inception, including financial or market highlights.
  • Products/services: Describe what you sell or the service you offer. Explain how it benefits your customers and what makes it unique to the market.
  • Financial information: If you’re seeking funding from investors, include a brief overview of your projections and what you’re asking for.
  • Future plans: Summarise where you plan to take your business in the future. This could include potential growth, new products or services, or expansion into new markets.

2. Draft a business description

Describe your business in detail. Include the business structure (sole trader, partnership, limited company), the nature of your business, and the marketplace needs that your business aims to fulfil.

3. Conduct market analysis

This is where you demonstrate that you understand your industry and market. Include information about your target customers, including their demographics and buying habits. Also analyse your competition, outlining their strengths and weaknesses.

What else to include:

  • Industry overview: This gives a broad view of your industry. You can include its size, growth rate, trends, and outlook.
  • Target market: Identify who your customers are. You should define them by demographic factors like age, gender, income level, and geographic location. Also consider psychographic factors such as lifestyle, values, and attitudes.
  • Market need: Determine what problem your product or service solves for your target market. This could be a gap in the market, an unfulfilled need, or an improvement on existing products or services.
  • Competition analysis: Identify your direct and indirect competitors. Analyse their strengths and weaknesses, and how your business compares.
  • Pricing and forecast: Set your pricing strategy based on your understanding of the market and competition. Include a forecast for your potential market share and sales.
  • Regulatory environment: Understand any laws or regulations that could impact your industry. This includes permits, licenses, or regulatory compliance requirements.
  • SWOT analysis: Identify your business's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT). This helps you understand your business's position within the marketplace.

4. List your management and organisation structure

Outline your business's organisational structure. Identify the owners, management team, and any key employees. Include an organisational chart if possible.

5. Outline services or products

Describe what your business offers. If you sell products, explain how they are produced, their cost, and how you will sell them. If you provide services, describe them in detail, and list any associated costs.

6. Define your marketing and sales strategy

Detail how you plan to attract and retain customers. Include your sales strategy and the marketing channels you plan to use. Here's what it should include:

  • Target market: Define who your customers are - their demographics, behaviours, and needs – and what kinds of marketing message they are likely to respond to. This will guide your marketing efforts.
  • Unique selling proposition (USP): Identify what makes your product or service unique. How does it stand out from the competition? How will you convey this in your marketing?
  • Pricing strategy: Explain how you have priced your products or services and why this will appeal to your target market.
  • Sales plan: Detail how you'll sell your product. Will it be online, in a physical store, or both? Will you have a sales team? How will you bring your business to the target market?
  • Promotional strategy: Describe how you will promote your business. This could include social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, advertising, public relations, and more.
  • Retention strategy: Outline how you plan to keep your customers coming back. This could involve excellent customer service, loyalty programs, regular updates or improvements to the product or service, etc.
  • Partnerships and collaborations: If applicable, discuss any partnerships or collaborations that will play a role in your marketing and sales plan.
  • Measurement: Define how you'll measure the success of your marketing and sales efforts. This could be through key performance indicators (KPIs) like website traffic, conversion rates, customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, etc.

Your marketing and sales strategy should be flexible. As you learn more about your market and customers, adjust your strategies accordingly.

7. Describe your funding needs

If you are seeking investors or applying for business loans, you should include a funding request section within your business plan. It should include:

  • Funding request: Start with the exact amount of funding you are seeking. Be clear and specific.
  • Use of funds: Explain in detail how you plan to use the funds. This could be for starting costs, working capital, business expansion, or any other business expenses.
  • Future funding: If you anticipate needing additional funding in the future, mention this. Provide an estimate of how much you might need, when you might need it, and what for.
  • Business financials: Provide a snapshot of your financial statements and forecasts. Include your income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, business loans, and any other relevant financial data.
  • Exit strategy: If you're seeking equity investment, describe your exit strategy. This could be selling the company, merging with another company, or going public with an IPO (initial public offering).
  • Repayment plan: If you're requesting a loan, outline your plan for repaying it. Provide a schedule and method of repayment.

When considering where to secure funding, it's essential to explore your options. You may want to consider our app-based HSBC Kinetic Current Account for sole traders and single director shareholder businesses, or our Small Business Bank Account for small enterprises. Eligibility criteria apply.

Both accounts are designed to support the growth and financial management of your business. These platforms provide a range of services that cater to your business's needs, from daily transactions to long-term financial planning.

8. Plan financial projections

Provide a forecast of your business's financial future. This can include balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements for the next three to five years. Consider incorporating HSBC Kinetic into your financial planning for a comprehensive and digital-first approach to managing your business finances. Eligibility criteria apply.

Here are examples of what to include:

  • Sales forecast: This is the amount of money you anticipate from sales of your products or services. It should be broken down monthly for the first year, then annually for the following two to five years.
  • Income statement (profit and loss statement): This document shows your business’s profitability over time. It should include revenue, costs of goods sold, operating expenses, and net income.
  • Cash flow statement: This demonstrates where your business is earning and spending money by highlighting how balance sheets and income affect your cash or cash equivalents.
  • Balance sheet: This document provides a snapshot of your business's financial position at a particular moment in time. It lists your assets, liabilities, and equity.
  • Capital expenditure budget: If there are large expenses for long-term assets such as property or equipment, these should be detailed here.
  • Break-even analysis: This analysis shows when your company can cover all the expenses and make a profit.
  • Financial ratios: These ratios compare financial metrics from your financial statements to assess your company’s financial health. They can provide valuable insights into how well the company is performing.

Your projections should be realistic, with all assumptions clearly stated. If you're a start-up with no financial history, base your projections on research and industry averages. If you're an existing business, use your past financial performance as a guide.

It can be beneficial to seek professional advice when preparing this section of your business plan, as it will be scrutinised by investors and lenders.

9. Appendix of supporting documents

An optional section that includes any additional supporting documents such as legal documents, permits, and contracts.

Writing a business plan is not a one-time event. It should be updated regularly as your business grows and changes.

How to start a business plan

Starting a business plan generally involves seven practical steps and may require consultation with other professionals. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to start:

Understand the purpose of your plan:

Research your industry:, outline your plan:, write the plan:, review and edit:, get feedback:, finalise your plan:.

Here are some people you might want to talk to when you write a business plan:

  • Industry peers or mentors: People with experience in your field can provide valuable insights and advice.
  • Business advisors or coaches: These professionals can offer guidance and help you avoid common pitfalls.
  • Accountants: They can assist with the financial aspects of your plan, including projections and identifying potential costs.
  • Potential customers: Speaking with your target audience can help you understand their needs and preferences, which can inform your marketing and sales plan.
  • Legal advisors: If your business has any legal considerations, such as patents or regulations, a legal advisor can ensure these are properly addressed in your plan.

A business plan isn't a static document - it should evolve with your business. Regularly updating your plan can help you adapt to changes and stay on track towards your goals.

How long should a business plan be?

The recommended length of a business plan can vary depending on the complexity of your business model and the purpose of the plan. However, a typical business plan ranges from 15 to 35 pages.

What does a business plan look like?

Your business plan can and should be branded to reflect your business identity. Here's how:

Cover page:

Headers and sub-headers:, colour scheme:, images and graphics:, tone of voice:, consistency:.

Your plan is a reflection of your business. By incorporating your brand into the design, you're not just creating a strategy document - you're showcasing your business's identity.

FAQ on creating a business plan

You may have many questions when creating your new business plan. Below we look at some of the common ones.

How much information should I include in my business plan?

Your business plan should be concise yet comprehensive, providing all the necessary information. The length might also depend on whether you're writing the plan for internal use, for potential investors, or for a loan application, as each audience might have different expectations.

It can be helpful to mark out which sections are for which audience, so that you can edit into a new document as required, rather than starting a new business plan from scratch.

What is the proper business plan format?

Printed versions of your business plan should be on standard A4 paper, bound neatly, and presented in a professional manner. All electronic versions should be in a PDF format and have a clear file name for ease of sharing.

The layout should be clear and easy to navigate, with headers, sub-headers, bullet points, and plenty of white space to make the document easy to read.

Common business plan mistakes

There are common mistakes that businesses can make when writing a plan. These include:

Lack of planning:

Wrong audience:, it’s too long:, insufficient market research:, unrealistic financial projections:, not addressing potential risks:, poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation:, unclear business model:.

Writing a business plan may seem like a daunting task at first, but with careful planning, thorough research, and thoughtful consideration of each section - from the executive summary to financial projections - you can create a powerful document that serves as a roadmap for your business's success.

Business plan template

Remember, a business plan is not a static document. As your business grows and evolves, so too should your business plan. Regular reviews and updates will ensure your plan remains relevant and continues to guide your strategic decision-making.

Whether you're seeking investment, planning for growth, or simply setting the course for your day-to-day operations, a well-crafted business plan is an invaluable tool for every business owner. With the advice and guidance provided in this guide, you're now well-equipped to create a robust and compelling business plan.

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More From Forbes

14 tips to develop a diverse client base that will grow your business.

Forbes Business Development Council

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Once a company is up and running successfully, and is ready to scale, one strategy to keep the business relevant in the current marketplace or boost sales is to find ways to expand and diversify the client base.

Networking with brand champions or highlighting the success stories of current customers are good places to start building on the next chapter of your business plan. Below, 14 experts from Forbes Business Development Council provide business leaders with additional examples of how to diversify their clientele, and why these are some of the best ways to keep a business growing.

1. Be Empathetic And Innovative

To effectively broaden and diversify your client base, use empathy and innovation. This means understanding clients' needs and offering them tailored solutions to address their problems. Also, remember that less is more—prioritize quality over quantity when targeting new clients. This strategy will help you break into new growth markets and remain competitive. - Greynier Fuentes , Veritran

2. License Your Brand

Brand licensing is a great way to diversify a client base. Licensing allows brands to move to new, adjacent product categories and services. Therefore, company brands can capitalize on existing customers and move them into new revenue opportunities, while at the same time leveraging brand familiarity to gain new, additional customers. It’s a win-win for customers and brand owners. - Amanda Cioletti , Informa Markets

3. Hire A Diverse Team With Different Perspectives

In management consulting, clients often request a diverse team and for us to bring something new and different to the table. To win the trust of a new client, you need to have a team with different backgrounds and perspectives who also represent the diverse world around them, steering clear of the cookie-cutter format that may have served you well 20 years ago. - Tara Duke , Slalom Consulting

Samsung Issues Update Warning For Galaxy Smartphones As Google Confirms New Threat

Fed chair powell issues ‘critical’ warning, sparking sudden $60,000 bitcoin price and crypto crash, biden vs. trump 2024 election polls: trump’s lead reaches record high in 2 prominent surveys as more voters say biden’s too old, 4. host industry events as an expert in your field.

As a subject matter expert, you will have access to a wider audience up and down the supply chain and organizational chart. Providing useful content adds credibility and builds trust. In our industry, this is done by hosting events for trade organizations, organizing "lunch and learns" and presenting at industry events. - Mike Janes , Direct Line Global, LLC

5. Be Open To Learning About Other Industries

The best way to diversify your client base is through strategic partnerships and networking in varied industries. It exposes your business to new markets and audiences, leveraging partners' credibility and customer bases. By aligning with companies in different sectors, you can cross-promote services and tap into previously inaccessible customer segments, enhancing market reach and resilience. - Dr. Saju Skaria , Digitech Services

Forbes Business Development Council is an invitation-only community for sales and biz dev executives. Do I qualify?

6. Network With Brand Champions Who Support Your Cause

A great way to expand and diversify a database is by zeroing in on different client niches and exhibiting at conferences. We do that quite a bit in our company, and it's expanded our leads because these conferences are an excellent chance to connect to new people and meet champions who love us and sing our praises. - Wayne Elsey , The Funds2Orgs Group

7. Engage Directly With Customers To Understand Their Needs

A priority in generating business development ideas is to focus on fulfilling customer needs. We provide comprehensive solutions that boost productivity and efficiency by deeply understanding and addressing market demands. Engaging directly with customers, collecting feedback and monitoring industry trends allows us to create effective solutions that meet genuine needs and drive growth. - Jim O'Brien , The Raymond Corporation

8. Strategize A Robust Digital Marketing Plan

The best way to expand and diversify your client base is through strategic networking and robust digital marketing. Networking allows personal connections across industries, while digital marketing reaches diverse audiences through targeted social media investment focused on SEO best practices. This approach effectively combines personal engagement with broad digital reach, enhancing visibility and appeal across various market segments. - Rahul Saluja , Cyient

9. Develop Services And Products That Are Relatable

Building services or products for a varied customer base is the key to attracting a diverse set of clients. Your product and services need to stay relevant to multiple industries or functions from a positioning perspective. Sustained investments in strategic marketing and outbound sales are the most effective ways of refreshing the narrative to attract more diverse prospects. - Anuj Srivastava , Beyondsoft

10. Create A Comprehensive Referral Program

Diversify your client base by building a comprehensive referral program with your customer success teams and tapping into new segments. For example, if your organization has been traditionally focused on an enterprise go-to-market strategy, then exploring a strategy to tap into a small- or medium-sized enterprise segment is essential. This can lower the cost of new logos and offer an expansive, inside sales function that is more beneficial. - Pradeepa Kolli , LHH (The Adecco Group)

11. Bridge New And Existing Customers Through Their Similarities

Diversification can occur in several dimensions—geography, industry and scope. To be effective at ensuring diversification is to find a "critical mass" of similarities and orthogonality between new and existing customers. For example, having a marquee group of food processing customers could lead to targeting the nutrition industry in the EU, where nutrition extraction is a byproduct of food processing. - Srinivas Kuppa , SymphonyAI

12. Seek Out Clients With Diverse Portfolios

The answer to this question is very simple: Target clients who are diverse not only in their own portfolios and verticals but also inwardly in their culture and teams. The real work starts when you need to provide them with a compelling reason why there are synergies between you and them. From there, you can build an alignment strategy and model that will target the core values of diversity and uniqueness. - Mustansir Paliwala , Zomara Group & EQUANS

13. Retain A Mix Of Small- And Large-Revenue Clients

Expanding and diversifying your client base by targeting a mix of small- and large-revenue clients reduces dependency on a few key accounts, enhancing financial stability. This approach mitigates risks, as losing one small client won’t significantly impact overall revenue, ensuring a more resilient and sustainable business model. It’s a strategic way to protect and gradually increase revenue streams. - Raviraj Hegde , Donorbox

14. Highlight The Success Stories Of Your Current Clients

Leverage your existing client base as an asset to expand and diversify your client base. Sharing success stories and results of how your current clients have achieved measurable outcomes and business results from doing business with you can go a long way to establishing your credibility. - Julie Thomas , ValueSelling Associates

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4 Efficient Employee Development Plan Examples (+ Templates)

Published on: 25 Jun 2024 , 14 mins to read

4 Efficient Employee Development Plan Examples (+ Templates)

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Today, new technologies emerge at lightning speed. Skills requirements evolve. Competition for top talent is fierce. In this ever-shifting landscape, how can organizations ensure agile and adaptable employees?

The answer: employee development plans. Employee development plans are no longer optional extras. They’re a strategic necessity if you’re looking to cultivate a future-proof workforce.

They provide a roadmap for continuous learning and growth for employees to develop the skills and knowledge to keep up and thrive.

Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or a manager looking to empower your team, harnessing the power of employee development plans will help you build a stronger, more successful organization. So what exactly is an employee development plan? And how do you build one?

To answer these questions and look at some employee development plan examples. Plus, you’ll get your very own templates to help you get started.

What you’ll find in this article:

1. What is an employee development plan?

2. Why are development plans important for professional development?

  • For employees
  • For organizations

3. 4 employee development plan examples and templates

  • Skill development plan
  • Leadership development plan
  • Career advancement plan
  • Ad-hoc development plan

4. A step-by-step guide for creating employee development plans

5. Tailoring employee development plans for individual success

What is an employee development plan?

An employee development plan, or employee growth plan, is a roadmap that outlines an employee’s growth trajectory within a company.

It lets the employee and their manager (or HR) work together on career development . They identify goals, skills, and knowledge they need to succeed in their current role. And to advance in their career.

Both employers and employees benefit from employee development planning. They help employers build a stronger, more skilled workforce prepared to tackle future challenges.

For employees, employee development plans provide a clear path for professional growth, increasing their engagement, job satisfaction, and overall value to the company. (We’ll go into more detail on the specific benefits in a minute).

A well-crafted employee development plan is:

  • Individualized . Tailor employee development plans to the specific employee’s needs, strengths, and career aspirations.
  • Goal-oriented . Set clear, measurable goals that align with both the employee’s development and the company’s objectives.
  • Actionable . Good employee development plans outline specific steps to help the employee achieve their goals.
  • Collaborative . Employees and managers work together to develop plans, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • Regularly reviewed . You should review employee development plans periodically to track progress and make adjustments.

4 Efficient Employee Development Plan Examples (+ Templates)

Why are development plans important for professional development?

An employee development plan is much more than just a piece of HR paperwork. It’s a strategic investment in both your employees and your company’s future.

It provides a clear path, setting career goals and putting them into action for growth and development.

Here are some of the biggest benefits you’ll get from this investment.

Employee development plan benefits: For employees

Increased engagement and satisfaction.

Employee development plans show employees you’re invested in their long-term success. They help people see a future for themselves within the organization.

Plus, 77% of employees report that learning new skills provides a sense of purpose at work. Learning opportunities help them feel more motivated, engaged, and satisfied in their jobs.

Enhanced skills and knowledge

An employee development plan develops the skills and knowledge people need in their current roles. It can also help them look to the future and prepare to take on new challenges.

This proactive approach to skill building gives them more confidence in their work. And a greater sense of accomplishment as they see their progress.

More career advancement opportunities. Employee development plans provide a clear roadmap for career advancement. With an outline of specific goals and development steps, employees can see the path they need to take to move up within the company.

Greater marketability

The skills and knowledge people gain through employee development plans also benefit them outside their current roles. They make them more marketable in the job market, both within and outside the company.

Employee development plan benefits: For organizations

Improved performance and productivity.

Intentional L&D planning leads to a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce. These skills translate into improved performance, increased productivity, and better problem-solving abilities.

Reduced skill gaps

A good employee development plan helps you identify and address skill gaps early. When you anticipate and prepare for your needs, you ensure you have the workforce you need to meet future challenges.

Better innovation

Employee development plans are part of a culture of continuous learning. When employees value learning, innovation and creativity get a boost.

Higher employee retention rates

Employees who see your company invest in their growth are more satisfied. Which means they’re more likely to stay with you longer. You’ll save significant time and money on recruiting and training new employees.

Stronger employer brand

In today’s competitive job market, candidates value an employer that prioritizes growth. A commitment to employee development helps build your employer brand so you can attract and retain top talent.

4 employee development plan examples & templates: Putting it into action

Employee development plans come in all shapes and sizes. It all depends on you and the employee’s specific needs. However, four common types of employee development programs will cover almost any scenario.

Let’s take a look at each type and the different use cases they cover. We’ll also share some examples of how each can be tailored to different situations, plus templates you can use to get you started.

1. Employee development plan examples: Skill development plan

This type of plan focuses on honing a specific skill crucial to the employee’s current role. It fills skill gaps, improves the employee’s proficiency, and brings them up to speed with evolving technologies and processes.

Skill Development Plan

A software engineer’s employee development plan focused on mastering a new programming language. The plan might include activities such as:

  • Enrolling in a comprehensive online course on the new language
  • Working on internal projects that use the new language under the guidance of a senior developer
  • Obtaining a recognized industry certification to confirm proficiency

Want to nurture a team member’s specific skill further? Click to get started with our skill development plan template .

2. Employee development plan examples: Leadership development plan

Leadership development plans prepare high-potential employees for future leadership positions. They help you prepare your top performers to take on bigger roles.

They show employees that you’re invested in their future. Plus, this type of employee development plan ensures your executive team has the right leadership skills.

Leadership Development Plan

A customer service representative with strong interpersonal and problem-solving abilities shows leadership potential. Their employee development plan could involve:

  • Participating in employee training designed to hone leadership competencies and soft skills like communication, strategic thinking, and conflict resolution
  • Participating in cross-functional teams to gain a broader understanding of the organization and how different departments work together
  • Getting feedback from the employee’s manager and colleagues to identify their current skill set, their leadership strengths, and areas for improvement

Is a team member demonstrating leadership qualities? Click to get started with our leadership development plan template .

3. Employee development plan examples: Career advancement plan

This development program helps employees transition into a new role within the company.

These may be upward moves (e.g., into leadership or managerial roles) or more lateral moves (to a different team or department within the company).

The plan will outline steps to gain the specific skill sets and experience required for the new role.

It will open doors to new opportunities and allow your team members to explore their interests and keep their work engaging.

Career Advancement Plan

A graphic designer with a passion for user experience (UX) design wants to make a career shift. To help them move to a UX role, you might develop an employee development plan that involves:

  • A skill gap analysis to determine the employee’s current skill set and identify the skills and knowledge still needed
  • Online courses, workshops, or certifications focused on UX design principles, user research methods, and UX prototyping tools
  • Shadowing a UX designer in the company to gain insights into the day-to-day work and receive ongoing mentorship

An ambitious team member looking for career advancement? Click to get started with our career advancement plan template .

4. Employee development plan examples: Ad-hoc development plan

This about creating an employee development plan based on the employee’s own interests. It addresses something the individual wants to learn. The interest may not be required for their role. But could contribute to their performance and foster innovation.

Ad-Hoc Development Plan

A customer service representative with a knack for writing expresses an interest in learning content marketing. Development plan ideas could include:

  • Taking online courses to understand content marketing fundamentals. Things like content strategies, audience engagement techniques, and search engine optimization (SEO) principles.
  • Partnering with the marketing team to develop engaging content for customer service channels, such as FAQs or blog posts.
  • Opportunities to share their newfound knowledge with colleagues through internal workshops or presentations.

Is a team member interested in exploring a new skill? Click to get started with our ad-hoc development plan template .

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A step-by-step guide for creating employee development plans

An effective employee development plan isn’t created in a vacuum. It takes planning. While each plan will be different (like the above employee development examples), there is a basic structure for building a plan that works.

The key is to create a plan that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). One that aligns with both the employee’s aspirations and the company’s goals.

Think of the following steps as an employee development plan template that will ensure your development efforts benefit both you and the employee.

Step 1: Align with business goals

Before diving into individual development needs, take a step back. Analyze the company’s strategic objectives. Then identify future skill requirements for your team or department.

Consider factors like upcoming product launches, new market expansions, or anticipated technological advancements.

Aligning the employee development plan with the company’s bigger picture benefits you in more than one way. It ensures the employee’s development contributes to the organization’s success.

This not only strengthens the business. It also demonstrates to the employee that you value their growth. It shows them that they contribute to a larger purpose.

For example, say your company plans to expand into e-commerce. An employee development plan for a marketing associate might prioritize developing skills in online marketing strategies.

Step 2: Assess employee skills

Assess the employee’s skills to help you determine areas for development. You can run a skills gap analysis, and conduct assessments. Be sure to involve the employee in self-assessment.

This can mean completing a self-assessment questionnaire where they reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. Self-awareness is crucial for effective development initiatives.

When employees take part in assessing their needs, they become more invested in achieving their goals. This two-way dialogue fosters a sense of ownership. It empowers the employee to take the lead in their professional development plans.

Step 3: Collaborate on goal setting

Have managers and employees work together to set employee development goals. Involving both parties benefits your planning in two ways:

  • It promotes alignment and ownership. Collaborative goal setting gets both the employee and manager on the same page about what the plan should achieve. The employee also feels a sense of ownership over the goals they helped create. They’ll be more motivated and committed to achieving them.
  • It ensures goals are feasible and relevant. The manager understands the company’s needs and the employee’s workload. So they can offer valuable suggestions to refine the goals to make sure they’ll have an impact on results. And that they’re achievable.

Collaboration is key to creating a motivating and effective employee career development plan. You can help employees understand the process by offering training in career planning . Help them understand the purposes and procedure so they can participate fully.

Step 4: Identify development activities

With the goals set, it’s time to brainstorm the specific activities to help the employee achieve them. List all the resources you think could be useful for helping the employee reach their goals.

These might include internal employee training programs. Or connecting the employee with a more senior colleague who can provide ongoing coaching and support.

You might also include on-the-job projects as part of the plan. For instance, you could assign the employee work that requires them to apply the new skills they learn. Practical application is a way to learn quickly as they gain valuable experience.

Also consider external resources like workshops, online courses, or conferences. Some companies have programs that help pay for industry certifications or tuition reimbursement for college courses.

Development activities are the building blocks that turn goals into reality. A well-rounded selection gives the employee access to the resources and opportunities they need.

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Step 5: Make an action plan

Once you’ve identified the development activities, put the ideas into action. Here you determine what steps the employee will take and allot the necessary resources. This might mean budgeting for employee training programs or scheduling time off for conferences. Or securing access to specific software or tools.

You’ll also need to establish realistic timelines for achieving each goal as well as indicators of success to ensure progress is measurable. Take the employee’s workload and the complexity of the development activities into account as you fill out the calendar.

Resource allocation demonstrates the company’s commitment to the employee’s development efforts. Without proper resources, achieving goals becomes an uphill battle. Timelines keep everyone accountable. They also keep employee progress on track and within a reasonable timeframe.

Step 6: Monitor progress and review

An employee development plan isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it document. Schedule regular check-ins as the employee progresses through the plan.

Regular monitoring and review keep the employee development plan relevant and effective. Life circumstances, company priorities, and the employee’s career aspirations can change over time.

Checking in helps your development plan continue to support growth. It also keeps it aligned with the company’s evolving needs.

Schedule regular meetings with the employee (e.g., monthly or quarterly) to discuss progress. During these meetings:

  • Discuss the employee’s experience with the development activities. Are they finding them helpful and engaging?
  • Review progress toward established goals. Do you need to adjust timelines or the development activities themselves?
  • Address any challenges or roadblocks. How can you provide additional support or resources?
  • Explore the employee’s career goals. Have their goals shifted since the initial plan was created?

Bonus tips for a winning employee development program

Encourage open communication. Create a safe space for the employee to voice their concerns or frustrations about the development plan.

Celebrate successes. Acknowledge the employee’s progress and achievements, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement keeps them motivated and engaged.

Be flexible. Be prepared to adapt the plan as needed. New opportunities or unforeseen challenges may mean adjustments to the goals or development activities.

Beyond the checklist: Tailoring employee development plans for individual success

Employee development planning encourages a culture of continuous learning. The most impactful plans go beyond a generic checklist. They’re tailored to individual employees’ needs and aspirations.

Take the time to understand the employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. It will help you create a meaningful and motivating career development path.

A development plan for employees should be a collaborative effort. After all, you have a stake in the outcomes too. But first and foremost, they should focus on the individual.

Effective employee development plans are an investment in your most valuable asset—your people. Equipping employees with the skills and knowledge to succeed creates a more engaged, productive, and innovative workforce. This translates into a stronger, more competitive organization.

Save time, frustration and money with TalentLMS, the most-affordable and user-friendly learning management system on the market. Try it for free for as long as you want and discover why our customers consistently give us 4.5 stars (out of 5!)

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Marialena Kanaki - Content Marketing Manager

Marialena hates talking about herself in the third person. She loves to inspire people with authenticity. And she prioritizes that in all her content—without the need for smoke and mirrors.

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  1. Business Development Plan Template

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  2. Top 10 Business Development Plan Templates With Samples and Examples

    development strategy business plan

  3. Linear Strategy

    development strategy business plan

  4. 6 Step Plan

    development strategy business plan

  5. Business Development Plan Template

    development strategy business plan

  6. Business Development Strategy Plan

    development strategy business plan


  1. Unit 3 : Business Plan l Part 2 l Entrepreneurship and New Venture Planning l Semester 4 l

  2. My job is to help you achieve your goals, period. #businessowner #businessadvisory

  3. What is Winning Business Strategy?

  4. Navigating Business Success: Understanding Strategy, Plans, and Models

  5. Best Business Idea 💡#businessstrategy #businessideas #viralshorts

  6. Recipe for business success! #worksmarter #entrepreneur #businessgrowth


  1. How to Develop a Business Strategy: 6 Steps

    Business strategy is the development, alignment, and integration of an organization's strategic initiatives to give it a competitive edge in the market. Devising a business strategy can ensure you have a clear plan for reaching organizational goals and continue to survive and thrive.

  2. Your Guide to Business Development Planning

    Business development planning is incomplete without measurable goals, as the individual department members can't see where to go without a big, red "X" on the map. Strategy development. Create a game plan for reaching your goals, including tactics for marketing, sales, and partnerships. Resource allocation.

  3. Your Guide to Creating a Strategic Business Development Plan

    A strategic business development plan serves as a roadmap for guiding your company's growth and success. It outlines goals, identifies opportunities, and sets a clear path for achieving sustainable development. By aligning your business activities with a well-thought-out plan, you can enhance decision-making and improve overall efficiency.

  4. 10 Key Business Development Strategies (with Examples)

    A business development strategy is a plan that a company follows to grow and get better. Imagine it like a map that helps a business decide where to go next to make more money, find more customers, or introduce new products. It involves figuring out what the business is good at, what customers want, and how to reach more people or sell more ...

  5. The Ultimate Guide to Business Development and How It Can Help Your

    The purpose of a business development plan (or strategy) is to set realistic goals and targets that allow your reps to grow the business, close more deals, identify prospects, align members of the sales team (and other teams, company-wide), and convert more leads. 1. Craft an elevator pitch.

  6. Strategic Planning: 5 Planning Steps, Process Guide [2024] • Asana

    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.

  7. Strategic Planning Tools: What, Why, How, Template

    Strategic plans bridge the gap from overall direction to specific projects and day-to-day actions that ultimately execute the strategy. Job No. 1 is to know the difference between strategy and strategic plans — and why it matters. Strategy defines the long-term direction of the enterprise. It articulates what the enterprise will do to compete ...

  8. 9 steps for writing a strategic business development plan

    3. Identify key growth opportunities. Next, identify your key growth opportunities. These could be new products or services, an expansion into a new market, or even a complete rebuild of your current offerings. Whatever these opportunities are, include them in your business development plan. Articulate how and why these opportunities will help ...

  9. How To Make A Business Plan: Step By Step Guide

    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.

  10. Business Development Plan

    Now that you're in the growth stage of your business, set things in motion with a business development plan. A business development plan sets goals for growth and explains how you will achieve them. It can have a short-term or long-term focus. Review and revise your plan as often as you can. And keep building on it as your business evolves.

  11. How to Create a Business Development Strategy for Your Sales Team

    Business Development Strategy Plan 1. Mission Statement and Background. Your business development strategy should begin with outlining your company's purpose as well as any relevant background information. This includes your mission statement, vision statement, and company history. Having this information front and center makes your ...

  12. How to Write a Business Development Plan: A Step By Step Guide

    A business development strategy can have a short-term or long-term focus, or both. They should also be constantly reviewed and revised as things shift and your goals may change. A health plan is one that builds as your business evolves. How To Write a Business Development Plan. A standard business development strategy can be split up into 6 ...

  13. Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps, and Skills

    Business development is the process of planning for future growth by identifying new opportunities, forming partnerships, and adding value to a company. It involves understanding the target ...

  14. How to Create a Business Development Strategy

    To some, business development is just another term for sales. Many view it as the process of forming strategic partnerships. Others define it as a marketing tactic. Business development expert Scott Pollack describes it best: "Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets and relationships."

  15. Business Development Strategy Template

    A business development strategy is an action plan a company takes to achieve growth and expansion. It involves identifying and seizing opportunities, cultivating relationships, and implementing initiatives to increase revenue, market share, and overall profitability. At its core, a business development strategy focuses on exploring new markets ...

  16. Free Business Development Plan Template To Meet Targets

    A business development plan template is a customizable document that outlines the objectives of your business and actionable steps to meet them. These can be your company's long or short-term goals, amounts needed for start-up costs, or specific milestones, such as hitting a specific monthly sales target, or getting your first repeat client.

  17. Strategic Planning: How to Write a Strategic Plan That Works

    Why Strategic Planning Fails. There are also plenty of organizations that do take steps to fulfill the requirements of strategic planning, yet still fail to see results. These strategies fail for many reasons, including: Lack of communication: This is a big one.Research shows that 95% of most companies' employees don't understand their organization's strategy, and 85% of executive ...

  18. Business Development Plan Template

    A business development plan outlines the strategy and goals for a business to achieve growth and success. It can help with the development of new products and services, customer acquisition, market expansion and other activities that drive a business forward. The plan will also include key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and ...

  19. 14 Examples of Business Development Strategy

    A business development strategy is a plan to grow your business in a new strategic direction. This is typically done to find new sources of revenue growth and/or manage competitive threats. The following are illustrative examples of business development strategy.

  20. Free Strategic Plan Template and Best Practices

    This strategic business plan template spans 7 pages to get you set up with a solid foundation for your business's strategic plan. The layout starts with an executive summary and continues with a company overview, product description, market analysis, and planned strategies. ... Leadership-Based Employee Development Strategy Plan Template.

  21. Write your business plan

    Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts. Example traditional business plans. Before you write your business plan, read the following example business plans written by fictional business owners.

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

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  23. Strategic planning: How to set and meet your long-term goals

    How to make a strategic plan: Step-by-step guide. The steps we detail here can help you create a solid but responsive strategic plan. 1. Assess your business environment. Analyze internal pressures within your business ; Research the external environment you're operating in; Gather data and feedback on your team's past performance

  24. 12 Biz Development Strategies To Help Teams Discover New Ideas

    6. Create A New Solution In An Unmet Market. One way is to identify an unmet market requirement and create a differentiated solution that addresses the need.

  25. How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide

    According to Cobello, a business plan is a document that contains the mission of the business and a brief overview of it, as well as the objectives, strategies, and financial plans of the founder. A business plan comes into play very early on in the process of starting a company—more or less before you do anything else.

  26. How to write a business plan

    There is no fixed business plan template, but many plans will include the following elements: 1. Executive summary. Your business plan should start with a succinct overview of your plan that highlights the key points and creates a strong initial impression. It should be compelling enough to encourage readers to read further. 2. Company description

  27. 14 Tips To Develop A Diverse Client Base That Will Grow Your Business

    1. Be Empathetic And Innovative. To effectively broaden and diversify your client base, use empathy and innovation. This means understanding clients' needs and offering them tailored solutions to ...

  28. Guide to Business Development for Financial Advisors

    Business development focuses on strategies that are designed to help an organization grow and achieve its goals. For financial advisors, that often means connecting with new clients and increasing annual revenues. There are different growth strategies advisors might employ to realize success in the short and long term.

  29. How Well Are You Implementing Your Strategic Plan?

    Creating the strategic plan is only the first step. All the (nonbillable) time and effort that goes into creating a strategic plan is wasted if the plan is never implemented. And yet, only 18.6 percent of the respondents to the survey indicated that almost all their strategic plan had been implemented ("all" was not one of the response ...

  30. 4 Efficient Employee Development Plan Examples (+ Templates)

    An employee development plan isn't a set-it-and-forget-it document. Schedule regular check-ins as the employee progresses through the plan. Regular monitoring and review keep the employee development plan relevant and effective. Life circumstances, company priorities, and the employee's career aspirations can change over time.