Finding Clarity Through Strategic Planning


At JDS Consulting Group the best way to predict your future is to create it – together.

Finding Clarity through Strategic Planning

Have you ever had moments in your life, perhaps even chapters, where you’ve thought – wow, what a waste of valuable time—that’s a part of my life that I will never get back.  Arguably, our time is the most valuable thing that we have so it’s important that we invest in the things that matter most.  In his book, Going From Good to Great, Jim Collins asserts that achieving greatness in both work and in life requires the combination of what you are most passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine.  Achieving this combination can be difficult if not impossible without a strategic plan to help you get there, so we will review 3 main areas to help you clarify and create a plan to achieve the things that matter most to you.


Assessment (where are you now):

How can you get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are now?  You will first want to answer the question “why” your business exists, as this will identify your authentic purpose.  According to the Harvard Business Review, the best way to engage your customers and your team members is through purpose and authenticity.  When your customers and team members share in your authentic purpose, they become advocates for your business which is the apex of loyalty.  Purpose is the alignment of your personal and professional values (think of your personal or company Core Values), value proposition (that which makes your company unique and special), and mission.  When properly aligned, this will be the driving force of your business for you, your customers, and your team members.


Next, you will want to assess your operations using a structured process like a S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) tool.  Identifying these areas of your business now will help you in establishing your future business objectives, as well as ensuring that you create a business that is sustainable.


For your marketing assessment, you should list all your current marketing activities along with any activities that you have decided to eliminate in the past, as it is important to establish both what works and does not work, and why.  Often, marketing activities that appear not to work have simply not been executed properly so it is important to review not only what you have done, but also the details of how and what you did.  You should review these details with your marketing rep, franchise/business consultant, or brand manager to ensure proper alignment, execution, and investment of your marketing strategy.



Vision (where are you going)

Now that you know where you are, the next step is to know where you are going both short term and long term.  It is critical that you have a sustainable competitive advantage and perhaps the best way to establish this is through your Points of Differentiation (POD).  Your POD are not just different for different’s sake, but instead identify what you are the best in the world at doing.  This is what far and away separates you from your competitors both short term and long term.  Without POD (think convenience, products, quality, benefits, features, customer experience, services, etc.), which distinguishes your value or sales proposition, the only competitive advantage you have is price.  Price is the least effective method of establishing a sustainable competitive advantage as there is no skill, expertise, or value associated with price alone.  Instead, promote your POD as these are what cause potential customers to break with their current habit(s) and create a new habit(s) with your company.


Working Business Plan (how will you get there)

According to Dunn and Bradstreet, 75% of all new businesses fail within their first 3 years.  What is the primary reason for this? – Lack of a business plan.  Simply stated, a business plan is the written description of the future of your business. I have long been a proponent of what I like to call a “working business plan,” which incorporates all the elements detailed above in Assessment and Vision, along with your essential Financial tools (like forecasted sales, P&L, and cash flow statement).  A working business plan is one that you use daily or weekly to steer your business, track progress and performance, keep you aligned to your purpose and your mission, and allow you to make course changes as necessary.


Implementing these 3 simple steps of strategic planning will help you achieve whatever is important to you in work and in life, by integrating what you are most passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine.

At JDS Consulting Group the best way to predict your future is to create it – together.

John Sennett