Whether you’ve just opened a small business or you’ve been running one for years, you know better than anyone how challenging and rewarding it can be. As a business owner, you might struggle with prioritizing your goals—which is understandable when you consider all the directions your company could take. For example, do you want to rise above local competitors, or is expanding to other regions your objective? It’s difficult to determine your specific goals or measure success when your strategy’s just in your head—and not on written out where you can refer back to it.
You might not think it’s necessary to write down your business plan. After all, you know your organization like the back of your hand, and you probably don’t have much free time. But recording your strategy is essential to your company’s success, and it’s well worth the investment of your time.
These five things will happen when you have a written strategy for your small business.
With all the day-to-day responsibilities of running a small business, it can be easy to forget why you started your company in the first place. You likely (and understandably) are focused on today’s issues and tasks, not past ideas for the organization.
But when you write out your business plan, you’ll force yourself to concentrate on both the past, present, and future. A written strategy acts as a big-picture map that lays out your company’s long-term goals and tactics you can use to achieve those goals.
With a written strategy, you can also look back to past goals and tactics to see how you and your company have changed and grown. This isn’t just for taking a trip down memory lane—reviewing your plan will remind you why you opened for business: to help others, to solve problems, or simply to be your own boss!
Your business is the result of your hard work, and strategic goal-setting will help you accomplish even more. Your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Laura Handrick of Fit Small Business breaks this down nicely:
By writing down your strategy, you’ll have a precise plan for turning these goals into realities. While it may seem obvious, it’s true that having a strategy on paper makes you more likely to follow through and stay true to your (written) word.
While setting goals and keeping your big picture in mind are essential for your business, you must also identify and prioritize your target market: who they are, what they want or need, what problems they’re facing, and how you can help them find a solution.
It’s easy to justify promoting products or services to a mass market; after all, it takes more time to segment your audience and figure out exactly what they’re looking for. But when you make space in a written strategy for researching your ideal customers, you can narrow your search to those with specific needs that only your business can fully meet. What’s more, you’ll start forming relationships (not just transactions) with your customers.
It’s also challenging to frame your website, content, and branding in terms of problem-solving for your ideal customers—and not just talking about how great your business is. But with a written strategy that describes your target market, their wants and needs, and how you’ll help them solve problems, you’ll have a framework for how to speak to them. The extra effort is worth it to ensure they feel seen and heard.
Once you’ve refocused on the big picture, set SMART goals, and prioritized your target audience, you’re ready to create content that aligns with your written strategy. Having a plan in place will allow you to hone in on your ideal customers’ pain points and empathize with them while writing helpful pieces.
When you write out your strategy, be sure to draft a plan for creating, distributing, and promoting content. The pieces you create will depend on what content best resonates with your target audience—and what they’ll most likely engage with. So, your strategic content plan may include actions items such as writing blogs, shooting how-to videos, posting on social media platforms, or creating a website.
No matter which strategic content you decide to produce, focus on your ideal customers and keep your big-picture and short-term goals in mind. When you create strategy-backed content for a specific purpose, you’ll be pleased with the results!
Having a written strategy for your small business lets you go back to the strategy so you can determine how successful your plan was and make changes to improve in the future. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when analyzing your results:
Once you’ve thoroughly answered these questions and tracked results, you’ll have the information you need to adjust your strategy, refocus on your target market, and better position your small business as a helpful problem-solver in your community.
While creating your strategy is the first step to success, it’s also necessary to keep this document up to date. As your small business changes, so should your strategy! By reviewing your plan on a regular basis, you can better understand your company, make changes, and keep growing.
Treefrog Marketing is a marketing agency focused on small business and located in Lafayette, Indiana. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.