I have been putting together business plans for over 25 years and it is clear to me that the strength of its core rests solely on being able to execute the plan. Each year I approach business planning as an opportunity, rather than a burden. I would rather invest the time up front in mapping out the upcoming year, than leaving it to chance to dictate my strategy. While this may force me to think strategically as well as tactically, preparing a detailed business plan in advance enables me to identify the challenges in advance of actually facing them.
Strategic Planning & Goals: The first step is to identify the key company goals which will be the over_arching direction of the plan. These goals should be focused on three areas: financial, growth initiatives and alignment to the company's vision/mission. This provides the overall direction of the company by establishing high_level goals that will be achieved by tactical initiatives. The overall plan should be 1 to 3 years with measurement mileposts monthly, quarterly and annually. While the plan is put in place at the onset of the year, it should be constantly re_forecast with actual results throughout the year.