By Allison Turner Business, Marketing & Sales Consultant Have you read the statistics on new business? Generally most sources agree that approximately 50% of new businesses fail within the first year! After that, the sources slightly differ anywhere from 80% failing in the first 18 months to 80% failing within five years. Anyway you look at it, the numbers are daunting especially if you are an entrepreneur or want to start a new business. To be a successful business owner, you must continue to view the big picture of your business. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Gerber, the author of E-Myth, published in Inc. Magazine is “No matter how long you’ve been in business, it’s important that you take on the perspective that you’re starting it anew today.” This is where the strategic plan comes in handy. If you don’t know where you are and where you are going then how are you planning to get there? Whether you are just starting a business or have been in business for several years, each business needs a strategic plan. It is imperative for your company’s growth and sustainability. A strategic plan not only allows you to formulate your company’s direction but it also helps you define what resources will be necessary and create a plan to budget for those resources. It keeps you focused on the Vision and not simply the day-to-day operations. Knowing exactly where you are going and what you need to get there is essential! Use the Following Eight Steps to Create Your Strategic Plan: 1) Know Your Vision and Mission Statements: If you are not clear on where you want to go and how your business operates on a daily basis then how will you get there? 2) Define your current successes and failures: Know exactly where you are and be brutally honest. This will help you get to where you want to go. 3) Set Goals: Set goals for your company or organization. Goals are at least a year out and many companies like to do 5-Year, 3-Year and 1-Year Goals. 4) Define Your Strengths and Weaknesses: What strengths and weaknesses does your company have? Again, be honest. The more honest you can be, the more you can build your success. If the company has a small number of owners, define each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. What does each bring to the table? This helps your business be really clear on what additional resources or personnel you may need. 5) Define the External Threats and Opportunities: Too often businesses forget to study what outside of their business impacts the company. Defining this allows your business to create a strategy for success. 6) Build your Strategy: Generate strategies to address each of your goals. 7) Prioritize Your Strategy: When defining your strategy, you will likely come up with a long list of strategies and implementation steps for each. Be clear that you cannot do everything at once so determine what gets your business the most long term Return on Investment (ROI) first and start there and build in your additional strategies over time. 8) Monitor the results of implementing the strategies: This is essential so you have accountability for your strategies and decisions. You also gain a very clear picture of your successes and failures so as you move forward you don’t continue to make the same mistakes. All businesses make mistakes but it is the businesses that learn from those mistakes and improve that ultimately survive. While owning a business is hard work, having a strategic plan gives you a road map to create your business success! Allison Turner is CEO and cofounder of Business Consultants of South Florida,(BCoSF, Inc.) located at 301 W Atlantic Avenue, Suite 05. She is a resident of Delray Beach as well as active member of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. BCoSF is passionate about helping their clients either start or grow a sustainable and profitable business. For more information visit www.BCoSF.com or call 561-276-4422.