The Gray Cat Blog

A comprehensive collection of blogs designed to assist small business owners and multiunit operators.

Strategic Business Planning

Feb 06, 2023

“The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.”

— John Harvey-Jones

Truer words have never been spoken.  Business planning in any environment is important but add in the myriad of economic challenges and strategic business planning is absolutely essential.  So, why is business planning so crucial? In a word, it provides “clarity”. Investing time to develop a plan provides precise clarification of the company vision to both employees and customers. In addition, it provides a mechanism to gauge the results of the business and provides the foundation for future growth plans.   

Below is an outline of items to include in your strategic plan so that you position your company to have a fighting chance in this pandemic world:

Strategic Planning & Goals: 

  • Identify the key company goals
    • Financial
    • Growth
    • Cultural Alignment
  • Plan 1 to 3 years with measurement 

Develop Planning Modules: 

  • Compartmentalize your plan by priority, resources and timelines
    • Focus by quarters
  • Reset as needed by market conditions

Develop Non-Capital Initiatives:

  • Productivity projects – sweat equity, process improvements, better management, etc.
  • Develop checks and balances on resource management
    • Have an “in the queue, out of the queue” mindset

Create A Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) Plan: 

  • Identify all discretionary CAPEX items that add growth and returns
  • Include mandatory, stay-in-business CAPEX items
  • Set up a capital committee to review 

Identify and Monitor the Following:

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) – Identifying key performance indicators for your business to use as benchmarks 
  • Fundamentals, Cycles & Trends (FC & T’s) – Outside forces that will influence your best intentions

Ask the Following Questions:  

  • Where Do You Want To Go?
  • How Will You Get There?
  • Do Your Initiatives Achieve Your Overall Goal?

Operationalize by Writing an Actionable Plan: 

  • Sequentially timeline all projects so they will not be competing against one another for resources
  • Morph strategy to tactical by mapping all the steps of execution
  • Cascade throughout the team the expectations, updates and overall communications of the ongoing business plan process
  • Set targeted benchmarks that can be measured against the initiatives
  • Monitor weekly and monthly all activities to ensure that the team is delivering on-time and on-budget

A business plan that hits the mark is one that not only identifies the strategic direction of the company, but also maps out the tactical elements that enable the company to execute on the plan. This is where most companies fail to deliver. Operationalizing a strategic plan is a discipline that separates the planners from the doers. Successful organizations create a team that consists of both types of individuals. A team that can take lofty strategic plans and tactical execute them is one to be reckoned with.

John Matthews, President & CEO, Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc.

John Matthews is the Founder and President of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc. a Raleigh, NC-based management consulting company. Gray Cat specializes in strategic project management and consulting for multi-unit operations; interim executive management; and strategic planning. Mr. Matthews has over 30 years of senior-level executive experience in the retail industry, involving three dynamic multi-unit companies. Mr. Matthews experience includes President of Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches; Vice President of Marketing, Merchandising, Corporate Communications, Facilities and Real Estate for Clark Retail Enterprises/White Hen Pantry; and National Marketing Director at Little Caesar's Pizza! Pizza!