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Business plan vs Strategic Plan - What You Must Know

Business plan vs Strategic Plan - What You Must Know Sep 12, 2019

Like everything else in life, the nature of business needs a plan in place to follow and measure. Crafting a strategic roadmap isn't just a suggestion—it's a necessity.

This is one of the key elements of a startup or even a business division within an organization that is expanding or diversifying. It has every resource element and needs to be mapped out for the business, including projected milestones for the future.

However, every business strategist needs to know that there are some subtle differences between what constitutes a business plan, and the several differences it has with a strategic plan. Let’s walk through the different elements that comprise each and understand the outcome each aims to achieve.

Introducing The Business Plan

A business plan is exactly what the name suggests— a plan to start and run a business or a new entity of an existing business; usually either an expansion in a newer region or a diversification into a new market. Business plans are mainly created for internal reference purposes or external funding purposes, with the latter being the common usage. They form the basis of all business strategies and decisions made at the ownership level in an organization. The most essential components of a business plan include:

Organizational Plan - This is the core of a business plan, and it includes the mission and vision statement, along with the market in which the company plans to operate. This plan also encompasses thorough market research to gauge the potential of the business, crucial for securing funding or sponsorship. It articulates the rationale behind the business's growth trajectory, outlining clear timelines for achieving milestones along the way.

Financial Plan - A robust financial plan is the bedrock of any successful business venture, where cash flow reigns supreme, and a meticulously crafted balance sheet serves as the ultimate scorecard. A financial plan includes some of the most important elements of the entire business plan and includes elements like projected cash flow statements, capital requirements, a summary of projected overheads, a projected balance sheet including assets and liabilities, and income and expense statements.

Remember to regard this as the central nervous system, for it permeates and influences almost every aspiration the enterprise hopes to attain.

Sales and Marketing Plan- We mentioned “almost” everything above for this very reason. Sales and marketing form the other significant component of the business plan. These include sales forecasts and overheads, marketing and brand management summaries, and market share projections that the business hopes to achieve within a time frame.

Business plans are indeed comprehensive and all-encompassing. They form the basis of the business's existence or the rationale for investments in it. But what about translating these plans into action? How do we ensure that the sky-high goals set forth are actually achievable?

The Actionables- A Strategic Plan

Strategic plans constitute the basis of operations and responsibilities within the business. These plans lay the paths out for each member of the organization to follow and define the functional outline and the key outcomes for every project and process within the business. A strategic plan goes on to define the operations and their outcomes within the organization, its departments, and its employees. The single thread connecting strategic planning with the business plan is the vision of the organization, and for obvious reasons— vision serves as the guiding light for strategy formation, which, in turn, directs the day-to-day operations of the business.

Why A Strategic Plan is Crucial to The Organization

In a word— synchronization. A robust and well-laid-out strategic plan establishes the much-needed sync between teams and their objectives. Not only that, it also provides a guide for daily operations alongside the focus and direction that teams often need to get the job done, on time and within budget. When all these components are integrated into a cohesive network, the true value of a strategic plan emerges—a seamless and grand orchestration of departments, teams, and individuals using the resources allocated to them to achieve the key performance indicator that they are responsible for.

Elements to Consider in a Strategic Plan

When tasked with creating a strategic plan for your business, you will need to incorporate certain components that will ensure that the stakeholders are aligned completely with the organization’s goals and objectives. These include:

Vision and Values- The vision statement is the most important component of the strategic plan and the most overarching. It propels the organization towards established goals and the values that every employee and stakeholder must incorporate.

Goals - These are short, medium, or long-term, depending on the scope of the strategic plan. They provide the much-needed context for the organization to undertake initiatives that meet the vision while maintaining the values.

Guiding Principles - Often, organizations face crossroads where they must decide which steps to take next, to reach their vision. Principles are included in strategic plans to align teams towards the vision when faced with a dilemma and form a critical part of strategic planning.

Action Plans - A sum of key initiatives, processes, and projects that are required to be performed on a pre-determined periodic basis for the goal to be accomplished. These also include the time frames for each stakeholder responsible for each option. They usually follow the DACI format for each action (Driver, Approver, Contributor, Informed)

SWOT Analysis - The quintessential component, the Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis of the strategic plan lends context to all business actions vis-a-vis the external environment. This includes competitors, market forces and conditions, identification of internal and external threats, and several other factors.

Read This - SWOT Analysis: How to Strengthen Your Business Plan

Here’s a table highlighting the main differences between a Business Plan and a Strategic Plan with a focus on the key components of each—

Business Plan vs Strategic Plan

Learning All About Strategic Planning

In all businesses, a strategic plan serves as the foundational blueprint, akin to a meticulously drawn map for a general. It provides the essential guidance and direction needed for the entire organization to navigate toward success. It is crucial, therefore, to acquire the necessary skills and certifications for employment as a business strategist who would be entrusted with creating it. Know more about how to become a successful and sought-after business strategist today!

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