What a Business Strategic Development Plan Should Include – Geek Think

A business strategic development plan serves as a framework for decision-making or for securing support and approval from partners, employees or stockholders. The plan itself can be as simple and straightforward as the organization wants it to be, based on the way it normally makes its decisions.

The key is not what the plan itself looks like, rather how the conclusions are reached. In our experience in order for a business strategic development plan to be actionable – it must be a sincere effort by a group of knowledgeable individuals with the short and long term success of the organization in mind.

A plan for a strategic competitive advantage may also be included. Let’s face it, if the plan is perfect in every way but does not take into consideration what the market is saying, what your competitors are doing, and addresses ways around any possible competitive roadblocks, what real bottom line benefits does it create?

Most leaders agree that a business strategic development plan is a practical necessity. Without plans in place, it is very easy for owners and managers to become blinded by immediate issues, losing sight of their long-term goals or objectives. Even the simplest most elementary plans can be used as a basis for action today and more detailed planning, when that is needed.

When it is properly written, the plan will explain the business to others, to give all the stakeholders both the big picture and somewhat of a road map to the future, even serving as a mission statement for the here and now along with the not too distant future. It can also serve to motivate people to do the right things and get them involved moving their area – large or small, in the preferred direction to achieve overall success.

The cornerstone of you business strategic development plan is the assessments made about your competition. Everybody has competition and in order to succeed long term you must get and/or maintain a strategic competitive advantage. I know it’s simplistic to talk about competition, but I am not referring to whether or not you offer the same service for a better price or whether or not your company’s advantage is it’s cost leadership, whether or not your model is to offer “more” for an equivalent price, etc.

I am referring to the entire spectrum of competition you face, whether it is within your control to do anything about it directly or not. Most often when businesses are run effectively in accordance with a price, production, service, and marketing strategy they will get as much business as they are capable of getting on their own – through the things they have been doing right over the years.

Beyond what you can achieve yourself in the normal course of things – achieving superior competitive advantage is often a result of collaboration with savvy industry peers that results in the strategic implementation of strategies synthesized from an ongoing series of strategic conversations.

Many years ago a successful business owner told me that “it’s not the things you don’t know that get you in trouble, it’s the things you know for sure that are wrong” so consistently achieving your maximum strategic competitive advantages is most likely to result for having that same group of knowledgeable industry peers test your assumptions before you act on them.

When it comes to keeping your business strategic development process moving forward and keeping focused on your competitors, you should consider a regular process that keeps everything important on the boil.

That ongoing process is one that harnesses the power of your relationships in your industry and beyond, continually forcing you to consider alternatives, and cause you to take actions based on mutually determined sound judgments.

It has been my experience that an excellent business strategic development plan – one that includes actionable competitive analysis, is the result of one thing and one thing only! It comes from making better decisions. It’s that simple, not easy to do on your own however. In fact the most successful leaders among us, in every walk of life, systematically reach out to their hand-pick board of advocates and supporters for insights and advice.

Product Description
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{bingnews|100|campaign}{pixabay|100|campaign}Metro Health Farm Market at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids Photo by Michigan Municipal League
The Michigan Municipal league is doing a series of case studies or how-to reports about placemaking activities taking place throughout the Great Lakes State. The League recently completed an in-depth look at the state’s rapidly growing farmers market movement. In doing the study, the League visited about 40 of the 300-plus markets in Michigan.

We took photos of each market observed and are posting them here on flickr so that the world can see the important role that farmers markets can play in making vibrant communities. Feel free to use any of these photos from our recent stop at the Metro Health Aquinas College Farm Market in Grand Rapids. It opened this summer and is one of the newest markets in the state. We just ask that photo credit be given like this: flickr photo/Michigan Municipal League, mml.org.

You can view the farmers market case study here: placemaking.mml.org/michigan-farmers-markets and a blog and slideshow about the farmers markets here: placemaking.mml.org/2014/09/15/placemaking-in-action-mich…. You can view all our how-to reports here: placemaking.mml.org/how-to/. Go here to view our flickr entire collection of farmers market photos: www.flickr.com/photos/michigancommunities/collections/721…

Here are some details about this case study and what we found during our statewide farmers market tour in the summer of 2014:

The 300-plus farmers markets that exist in Michigan come in all shapes and sizes. They’re in large urban centers and tiny villages. They pop up in parking lots, fields, roadsides, on main street and in permanent, historic structures.

They sell traditional farmers market fare – corn, apples, maple syrup, potatoes, and pumpkins – and the unexpected – homemade spices, baby clothes, fresh-caught fish, jewelry, and even sea urchin. You can get your knives sharpened, your face painted and your groceries for the week. At a farmers market you can find old friends and meet new ones. And you can talk to the vendor who grew the melon or flowers you’re thinking about buying.

Farmers markets can even help create a place for people to gather and revitalize a community and give an economic boost to existing businesses and inspire new merchants to open.
In writing a how-to case study about Michigan Farmers Market for the Michigan Municipal League, I got the chance this summer to visit about 30 markets across our great state. I saw thousands of people pack into the new location for the Flint Farmers Market to great fanfare for its grand opening in downtown on June 21. I smelled the yummy salsa dish a woman was preparing for her church fundraiser at the Dansville Farmers Market. I saw a man holding a rooster in Birmingham, a robotics team in Grand Blanc, violinists performing in East Lansing and Traverse City, and Spanish mackerel on sale at the new Downtown Market in Grand Rapids.

I’ve always enjoyed going to farmers markets but the sights and sounds I experienced in my market tour this summer were truly inspirational, exciting and simply fun. While I saw many successful markets, I did experience some that seemed to need a shot in the arm. I also attempted to go to a couple markets that I eventually learned are no longer in operation.

So what makes one market flourish as another withers on the vine?

The success or failure of a market can come down to three words: Relationships, relationships, relationships, said Dru Montri, director of the Michigan Farmers Market Association, an East Lansing-based non-profit organization that tracks and provides support to farmers markets throughout the state.

Montri said the 320 farmers markets in their data base this year is a record high since the association formed and starting tracking farmers markets in 2006. While some close each year many more open.

“Farmers markets are based on relationships,” Montri explained. “That’s the best thing about markets, and it can also be the most challenging aspect of markets. It’s relationships between farmers themselves, relationships between vendors and the market management, relationships between the market manager and sponsors and relationships between vendors and shoppers. All of those are very, very important. People love farmers markets because of that. People love going and talking to vendors about how things are grown.”

But Montri said when relationships sour that can impact everything in a market. A successful market will have strong leaders who can forge good relationships on all levels. She suggests a market have a board of directors or advisory team to oversee it.
Montri said the number of farmers markets in Michigan have doubled since 2006 for several reasons.

Those reasons include an increase in consumer interest about where and how their food is made and processed; a growing awareness among community leaders about the value a farmers market can have in economic development and creating a sense of place and community in their town; and a desire by farmers and vendors in direct marketing options, which tend to be more profitable.

She believes the number of markets will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, especially as more markets start to offer financial assistance programs to those in need, such as the acceptance of SNAP Bridge Cards and related services.

“There is such a large number of consumers who haven’t even yet considered shopping at farmers markets,” Montri said. “As long as we have the potential to bring more people into farmers markets, we have the opportunity to expand the number of markets. As long as we are strategic about growth, we can avoid these saturation points. But, starting a market a mile away from an existing market on the same day of the week, for example, can cause over saturation.”

This post and related case study was written by Matt Bach, director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org.
By Michigan Municipal League (MML) on 2014-07-05 22:17:02

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