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A Three-Step Model For Creating A Strategic Plan

Jacob M Engel

Author and CEO of The Prosperous Leader. I help CEOs and their organizations prosper.

Most people don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan. This adage has been around for a long time and still remains true.

In my experience as a business consultant and leadership coach, I find that few entrepreneurs and business leaders have well-thought-out strategic plans that they follow religiously. Often, when I ask a client where their plan is, they say they don’t have one or that it’s outdated, not relevant, in their head, etc. Even if they do have a plan, it's not being updated and followed. When I ask them why, they say it’s mainly because they're overwhelmed by so many tasks, and it seems like just another one to add to their lists. "When I have time, I'll do it" is their motto.

In my experience, though, many entrepreneurs and leaders really don’t care for plans. They like shooting from the hip and don’t appreciate being held accountable to plans.

However, some would really love to have one; they just don’t know how to create one and are too embarrassed to ask someone to help them do it. Let’s say you'd like to have a plan, but you just don’t know a simple yet effective format.

Here's one I use with my clients. It's a three-step model that I call the GSAP.

1. Goals

These are the biggest objectives that you want to achieve. Some might be short-term, some medium-term and some long-term. Think big and wide. In their book Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras call them BHAGs, which is short for "big, hairy, audacious goals." While you may want to consider setting anywhere from three to five goals, realistically, if you look at growing the top line (gross sales) as a goal and growing the bottom line (net profit) as another goal, they cover almost everything. I find that many companies don’t bother with other goals as these cover almost all the activities a company will be focusing on.

2. Strategies

This step includes the different strategies you can use to reach your goals. Let’s say your goal is to increase sales. You might strategize on how to sell more items to your current customer base or to a new customer base or both. If you're selling offline (wholesale, physical retail, etc.), you might strategize on how to sell online (perhaps on Amazon). If you sell online, then you might want to think about how to sell to brick and mortar retailers.

3. Action Plans