One of the questions I get on a regular basis from physician business owners and CEOs is “How do I create a strategic plan that works for my business?”
Running a business means focusing on daily, weekly, or monthly requirements, but it’s worth stepping back to look at the big picture. And that means revisiting your company’s strategic plan. When most people think of a strategic plan, they often think short-term actions that have an immediate result on their business, but strategic planning takes longer and requires multiple components to affect business success.
A strategic plan, which shouldn’t be confused with the business plan used to start a business, gives a company direction and provides an action plan that helps move it from where it is to where it wants to go. Strategic plans often look three to five years ahead and a truly strategic plan’s goal is to plan for the future and drive the business to that state in predetermined increments.
Trying to think three to five years into the future can often lead to analysis paralysis, or the inability to make a decision due to prolonged over-analyzing of a situation. The best way to avoid paralysis is to break down the plan into components, address each of them as part of the plan and ensure you have the right people involved in the strategic conversation.
Tactical and operational plans are often the actions management focuses on to achieve short-term business goals. These are important tasks, but they only form part of the strategic plan. Physician owners, by nature and by training, are very tactical; aiming to diagnose the problem and fix it. When establishing a strategic plan, be sure to also think about the what and who, not just the how.
A lack of data can lead to fear-based decision-making and, consequently, the failure of any strategic plan. When it comes to data, if you don’t have it, you have to find someone to get it for you, especially if millions of dollars are involved. Physicians often rely on their business manager for this information, which may not be enough.
In upcoming articles, I’ll discuss what kind of data you’ll need for your plan, where to measure the data, and how to set realistic goals that serve your strategy and can help you course-correct as needed. I’ll discuss how to have the right mix of people and culture fit when creating a strategic plan, what questions should be considered when creating the plan, how to deal with the inherent risk when forecasting years ahead, and finally how to execute said strategy via a communications plan.
Strategic planning may make you pause with indecision, but, with the right information from your advisors, you can create a plan tailored to your company’s future growth.