Strategic planning looks much different for small business vs. larger corporations for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being the number of people sitting around the brainstorming table.

If you’ve ever worked in a corporate setting, or even in a business that’s larger than your own, you know that planning and decision-making isn’t for the faint of heart. While it feels a lot easier to make decisions to help grow and guide your business, it can also be very frustrating.

Playing on your strengths becomes essential in small business. The agility you have, the ability to selectively bring experts to your team and even your budget-conscious mindset are assets when you go into your strategic planning cycles.

How to Use Strategic Planning Cycles to Your Advantage as a small business owner


You’re more agile

Being able to shift gears quickly is a blessing and a curse for small business owners. Our agility often revolves around our families and home lives, allowing us to structure our schedules around when and how our families need us.

At the same time, the fact that our businesses are often just us (or us and a small team) means that we don’t have a lot of moving parts to consider when making decisions inside our businesses. No back-and-forth among team leads and execs just to buy printer paper from a new supplier.

Strategic planning plus for small biz: Fewer people involved in the process = faster decisions.Click To Tweet

The downside of our small stature is that literally anything can take us (and our businesses) out. An ill family member, a car accident, natural disasters, a broken system–it all has the power to completely derail our businesses. Small businesses need to be able to adapt to these unavoidable challenges. In a corporate setting, there’s more team to spread out the work and responsibility. So if one team or team member is derailed, there’s someone else around to pick up the slack.


You’re not always an expert

Planning in a corporate space means department heads, executives and team members from different parts of the organization working together (or fighting for their cause) for the sake of a business goal. When it comes to ideation, more brain power is often better.

As a small business owner, however, you may not be the expert in every facet of your business. (Hun, you’re not. I promise. And it’s okay.)

And because you’re not an expert in everything, strategic planning often involves hiring team members or temporary help to both plan and execute. As the leader of the team, you get to make the ultimate decision. But with more brain power available to you, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing that you made the right decisions.


Budgets matter more

Budgets always matter, but when you’re working with the limited (or non-existent) budget of a small business, you tend to hold onto those dollar bills a little bit tighter. Larger businesses tend to have more waste–because they have more people trying to agree on one course of action. Not to mention it’s more financially feasible for larger businesses to shift gears when something isn’t working; small business owners have more skin in the game and are more willing to stick something out than give up.

Budgets always matter, but they matter more in small biz when there’s little to waste.Click To Tweet

Take advantage of your smaller budget to make educated decisions about how to move forward in your business. Do your research and take small steps, rather than huge leaps. Invest in your business, but invest wisely.


What can you do?

Ready to become strategic in your planning, but not sure where to start? Try out these tips!

  • Plan ahead, but don’t be so structured that you can’t change directions when needed. Having a long-term vision will give you some direction, but only truly plan out three to six months in advance.
  • Know your limits. You cannot be an expert in every area of your business, and that’s okay. Hire team members, if even on a short-term basis, when you need help working through a project. At the very least, have a coach or mastermind on your side to act as a sounding board.
  • Don’t worry too much about the details. Your team members are there to help you with that. Find others who are visionaries and who can help fill in the details that are outside your area of expertise.
  • Roll with the punches. Because you have a life outside your business, know that sometimes plans get derailed. Others in your small business world know this and understand. That’s what’s so great about our community, right?


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