By Leona Barr-Jones, formerly Managing Director of Barr-Jones Associates and now Operations Director of Focus7 International Ltd

Once your business starts to grow, you take the big step of taking on staff and putting processes and procedures in place in order to keep your business on track. It is at this point that strategic management is critical if you want to continue to drive your business forward with its business growth and move to the next level. Here, I look at the concept of strategic management and its role in management and business planning.

Strategic management in essence is all about planning for growth and ensuring that you direct your efforts into the right parts of the business. As part of your strategic planning you must define both your short-term and long-term business objectives as a first step to developing your business plan going forward.

  • Knowing your business’s worth is at the heart of everything that you do to grow. A proper business audit will look at the finances of your business, both past and current, to help understand the effectiveness of your financial operations. A management audit looks more widely at the business and aims to spot potential managerial problems. There may be a need to change certain procedures in the business to adapt it as it grows – often business owners are so involved in their business that they don’t spot these;
  • Develop your own vision and mission statements for the business and set yourself goals and timescales in which to complete them. Really drill down into your business and analyse what works well and what doesn’t work well. You can use this knowledge to help plan the way ahead;
  • Set a short-term strategy and think about what you want to achieve in the next 12 months. As the strategy is short-term, it can be pretty detailed and comprehensive and can be used to help set staff objectives for the year ahead. Ensure that you keep your staff involved in your thinking so that everybody understands what the corporate goals are and you can work to achieve them together. Working towards shared goals can be hugely powerful in your business;
  • A short-term strategy is key for running the business day-to-day, but it is also important to have a long-term road map and goal for the next 3–5 years. A long-term strategic plan does not have to be as detailed as the short-term plan, but it can help to guide a business forward towards a common goal. Not forgetting that as a business owner you will need to think about your exit plan to ensure you are building the foundation for your personal goals and your legacy;
  • Depending on the size of your business, you may want to work up strategies for different parts of the business, such as sales and marketing. This will give you the chance to set specific targets for key parts of the business that may be critical in keeping the business afloat. You can also use these as the foundation to delegate the responsibility for the delivery of these targets and goals within the business. Remember that these will need to tie in with your overall long and short-term strategies.
However hard you work on setting strategic management goals, they will not be successful unless you work with your staff and achieve their buy-in to your plans. As a team you can help to move your business forward and remember that the work you do on strategic planning is not set in stone. Forces outside your control may push your plans off course so remain flexible and adjust them if you need to. Business success is just around the corner if you keep your eyes on the end result and work together to achieve those shared goals.