Strategy is an important part of any business. Without developing strategies, your business may find itself unable to keep up with competitors or effectively develop new products or services that will interest its customers. With that said, there is more to building and running a successful business than just coming up with strategies.
To see those strategies implemented, you need to develop a strategic initiative for each one and create a plan to see your initiatives through. Learning how to properly create and execute a strategic initiative plan will take your business to new levels of success and significantly increase your share of the local market.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
A strategic initiative helps you implement your business strategies in a very real way, ensuring that you have specific milestones to follow and goals to meet.
What Is a Strategic Initiative?
While most business leaders are familiar with the importance of developing business strategies, some have difficulty actually implementing those strategies because they only set broad goals without defining how to achieve them. A strategic initiative is designed to solve this problem; instead of declaring a general goal or desire, the strategic initiative has a very specific goal that is constrained by well-defined parameters.
Each strategic initiative should be designed with one specific goal and should have both a start date and an end date during which the initiative is active. Milestones and other guidance are often part of a strategic initiative as well. These parameters create a road map for your company to follow as it works toward the strategy goal that the initiative seeks to meet.
Within the strategic initiative you should detail an operating budget, the department or departments involved, and any other details that help define exactly how your goal will be reached. Multiple strategic initiatives may be used in conjunction to reach your larger business goals, with each initiative serving as a single step in the process.
Developing a Strategic Initiative Plan
A strategic initiative plan may include multiple initiatives that are designed to work together toward a single larger goal. To create an initiative plan, you need to define both your larger goal and what is required to achieve it. Your plan should include the following:
- An end goal, or what you hope to achieve when the plan is complete.
- An overall budget that will be divided among the various initiatives.
- A breakdown of the steps required to meet your end goal; these may become individual initiatives.
- A SWOT analysis, providing details on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that must be considered when working toward your end goal.
- A list of measures by which the success or failure of initiatives can be determined, including options such as sales increases, customer engagement or other quantifiable changes.
- A support plan that details the chain of command and other company support that can be relied on to help achieve the initiatives within the plan.
- A timeframe within which the entire plan needs to be completed; this can be the end of the quarter, the end of the business year or some other custom time period.
Once you have this information, you can start developing the specific initiatives that are required to meet your end goal. Use the data from the SWOT analysis to help ensure the success of each initiative and organize the initiatives within your timeframe to ensure that each has enough time to meet its own goals.
A strategic initiative plan may require several revisions before it is approved. This will ensure the plan can achieve its goals without exposing your company to weaknesses or threats. The more care that is put into the plan, the more likely it is to be successful.
Gauging Plan Effectiveness
As the initiatives within your plan are completed, use the measures defined during the planning process to determine how successful they were. If your initiatives are struggling or not meeting their goals, consider restarting the strategic planning process to make adjustments to your remaining initiatives using what you have learned from the initial attempts.
In some cases, you may have to scrap a plan and start over from scratch; while this is not ideal, it will prevent you from wasting resources on initiatives that are not working. As you develop more initiative plans over time, however, you will gain a better understanding of what works in your market and learn how to create more effective strategic initiative plans.
Jack Gerard is a freelance writer and editor with over 15 years of experience writing about topics related to business and finance. His body of work includes copy for small businesses, how-to guides for entrepreneurs and even editing and copy work for international corporations.