Entrepreneurs readily thrive on formulating great ideas for new products and business ventures and many even manage to muster credibility when it comes to formulating a vision for success, but all too often the busy road to market is littered with the debris of unrealized dreams and unfulfilled intentions. Initial investments generally are freely cast towards product development, manufacturing, packaging and market logistics, and while tangible and of paramount importance, these factors alone will not be enough to ensure successful marketability and viable business sustainability.
Robert Arnold, entrepreneur and CEO of Saffire Vapor comments, “Strategy keeps an entrepreneur focused on the larger goals – the big picture. It lays out a roadmap for ambitious and sweeping aims and breaks the impossible journey down into realistic and conceivable tasks. It is of the utmost importance for business. Without it you’re just walking over the hot coals, never realizing when you’ve made it to the other side.”
Business today gets done in a global marketplace and new technologies and change is occurring at an unprecedented rate, making time and distance less relevant thanks in great part to the explosive growth of the Internet and the development of new mediums of marketing like social, mobile and digital. There was a time when strategic planning was only done by large businesses and those companies known for leading change. For small and mid-size businesses, survival now rests on establishing strategies to weather the economic storm.
“Strategic planning is critical to business success. It is has not only kept us in business, but has been the key contributor to our continued growth,” says Daveenia Beller, Managing Partner & Founder, Infinite Resource Solutions. “Different from traditional business planning, our leadership team views strategic planning as our roadmap for survival and continued success. Strategic planning for our company is not your classic business operations plan. Ours involves vision, mission and outside-of-the-box thinking. Strategic planning has helped us define both where our company is heading, and how we are going to get there, while considering potential economic or market pitfalls. Without a defined strategy and plan, it’s like taking a trip without a predefined destination. We prefer to drive with our lights on, and possess a physical address for the stops along the way.”
Some good strategic advice from Daveenia to emerging entrepreneurs and small to mid-size companies; “budget more than you plan on spending, and borrow money when you don’t need it. Just don’t spend it until you do! A prime example is back in 2008 when many organizations saw a recession on the horizon. They braced themselves for the impact, knowing full well that banks are more likely to lend when you don’t need it, rather than when you do during an unstable economy.”
It is just as possible to grow yourself out of business, as it is to go out of business. It is important to have a solid cash flow analysis and anticipate potential constraints. “Our company doubled in size even during the recession,” commented Beller. “We had to control our growth, and make certain it was controlled at a sustainable rate, being that conventional loans were extremely difficult to secure at that point in time.”
Investing in an effective, well researched and targeted strategic plan is vital to assure success in a competitive market environment. Embarking on any new business venture without a clear plan which includes direction and sustainable goals is like setting out across a desert without so much as a simple compass to guide ones journey. Nothing planned, little achieved, everything at risk.