Is your business doing as well as it should? That is the question that Maria Baseggio, President of Sage Insights, led off with on this month’s SkillBites Show. Sage Insights is a management consulting firm that works with businesses to address their growth challenges by optimizing their business and/or marketing strategies. 

If your answer to the above question is no, then to determine what you should be doing differently to improve your business performance you need to develop a strategic plan. By developing a strategic plan, companies are positioned to make an objective assessment of their “current state” and determine what changes are needed to achieve the desired “future state”. Basically, it improves a company’s potential to achieve their growth targets. Maria recommended involving all stakeholders and key personnel in the strategic planning process. When the key personnel and stakeholders are involved, there is greater buy-in and commitment to implement the plan when it is done.

The process begins with identifying where you want to be in 3 years. That’s the fun part. How much do you want your revenues and profits to grow? Do you want to get into new markets by expanding to more geographic regions and/or by applying your products or services to additional industries? Are you planning to offer more products or services? Then evaluate your wish list to make sure your goals are realistic.
Next comes evaluating where you are now, and that takes the form of a SWOT analysis: identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The first two look internally at what you are doing really well that, if you did more, would help you achieve your goals, and what you are not doing very well that, if you were to improve, would help you achieve your goals. The second two involve looking externally at the market to determine what could help or get in the way of moving forward. There may be a competitor moving into your territory, or proposed legislation that, if enacted, will require changing your product.
This analysis will reveal the areas which you need to address to achieve your goals. It may be that there are multiple areas requiring focus, in which case you will need to prioritize them. Then when you have decided which areas to address, you need to come up with how you will address them, and that’s where it takes some time. You may need to do some market research by conducting a survey or accessing reports with key data provided by industry analysts to make sure you are proceeding appropriately.
After spending the effort to develop the plan, you want to make sure you get value from it. Too often, the plan sits on a shelf collecting dust. To avoid the completed plan from becoming shelf ware, Maria recommended the following:

  1. Get the endorsement and commitment of the executive team to the implementation of the plan;
  2. Gain buy-in from your employees by communicating the plan throughout the company so your employees understand the goals and key strategies.
  3. Establish metrics and a timeline that will enable you to meet your growth targets, and then monitor your progress;
  4. Assign accountability to designated individuals for achieving the metrics, and make sure they understand the importance of the achievement;
  5. Provide rewards for meeting goals; and
  6. Assess the plan annually and revise it as necessary.

While businesses can prepare strategic plans themselves, having the perspective and expertise of a management consultant can be valuable. When hiring a management consultant, Maria suggested asking peers for referrals and asking the prospective consultants about their background, experiences and industry expertise. Although it may be helpful if the consultant has experience in your industry, it’s not essential. It’s important that they have strong experience helping businesses in the key areas that impact overall growth strategies.
Maria offered a complimentary consultation to anyone who would like more information about strategic planning. She can be reached at 610-270-0209 or