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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Strategic Planning- Necessity or Nicety for Your Retail Business?

No matter what type of retail business you own, it is important to do a little business soul searching (we call this strategic planning) to make your business as successful as it can be.
Every business – no matter what- should do some sort of planning for the future. Besides making your day to day job easier—it’s just good business!

If you don’t create a plan, how can you tell your business is on track? How will you tell others where you business is headed if you don’t even know? Or better yet, how will you measure success if you don’t know what the plan is?
Let’s start with some definitions. What is Strategic Planning? Strategic planning is a process whereby you dissect your business to determine its strengths and weaknesses. During this process you set your company's goals, objectives and mission statement. In other words, it's a soul-searching exercise for your business. Strategic planning will help you answer the following questions that are key to your businesses’ success.

1) Why does my company exist?
Why are you in business? Are you in business because there is a need and you're filling the void? Are you in business because your hobby has grown to a whole new level and its time to make it a legitimate business? Look honestly at this question and answer it truthfully. It will save you much heartache- and profit- in the long term.

2) What does my business do?
Key here: Outline your core business. Writing down your core business will keep you and your employees from getting sidetracked. If your business strays from the core and starts to falter always go back to your strategic planning to see how far you've veered from 'what your business does'.
If it’s deemed that changing direction is what you do, then you need to re address our strategic plan to redefine and realign your business goals.

3) How does my business do what it does?
This is your small business philosophy. This is an important question to answer. Once you've come up with your company's philosophy or mission statement, make it well known to all who works for you. If you're true to your mission statement, your clients will see the fruits of your effort in all that you do. In the product that you bring in, with the employees you hire as well as how you merchandise your store.

4) How do I measure my business' success?
How do you know if you're on target? You must establish a quantification of your success. Define goals that are easily measured; increase customers by 15% each year, grow sales by 6% annually, improve profits by 10% annually. These are all goals you can measure. Once you've come up with your unit of measure, review your progress regularly.

5) Why come up with a strategic plan?
Your business' strategic plan will become your company's blueprint. Think of it as your road map and instruction manual. As your business grows and you are faced with difficult decisions, take a look at what you developed and written down during your strategic planning stage. It will serve to remind you and your employees of the company's core values and mission. It will help to redirect your energy and the energy of your employees when faced with tough decisions.

6) When should you to create a strategic plan?
It's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day operations of your business. Once you're up and running and meeting your customer’s demands, it gets more and more difficult to take the time to go through the business soul searching. You MUST find time even during the busy Holiday season to sit back, review your company mission and to create a plan that will guide you thru the upcoming seasons and year.

With time at a premium, it is better to work smarter than harder. A well thought out strategic plan will help you to work more efficiently rather than harder. Additionally, a strategic plan is a philosophy to share with your employees. Making sure that everyone on the team is marching to the same drummer will help you find success all year long.

Need help with a strategic plan for your retail business? Contact CBCG today. lynn@cbc-group.net.

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