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When first starting a new business, there are several things that an owner can be excited about. From promoting the business to connecting with new customers, the initial months following the launch of a new business can help set the tone for the future. This is what makes it so crucial to implement a unique, creative business strategy from the start, as this can help ensure that a new business can manage initial challenges along the way. It’s important to learn more about the significance of creating a robust business strategy when first starting out and how to continue improving the process for long-term success.

What Is Strategic Planning?
When examined with the business sector, strategic planning is defined as the process for determining a particular business’s vision, goals, and objectives. A strategic plan determines the overall goals for a business and the steps taken to achieve these specific goals. This is an essential document for a new business because it outlines a general direction and provides employees with a better understanding of how the business functions. It can also provide crucial steps to take if an issue were to arise, particularly in the beginning stages of a business. When putting together a strategy for the first time, make sure to spend time on the following sections. 

Create A Vision
When developing a strategic plan, it may be helpful to determine the vision for the specific business. Answer questions that could come up when completing this section as well. Examples of questions could include: 

  • Is this a service meant to help people? 
  • Is it a product that will be available for purchase? 
  • Are there products or services already available that would require competitive pricing? 

Answering questions like these can help guide the strategy when first putting it together and provide valuable information later in the strategy. 

List The Business Goals
Creating robust business goals is another significant component of building a strong business strategy. While this may seem like an obvious section to focus on, it can have a substantial impact on how the business functions, so it is important to spend time here. Make sure to use the vision portion of the strategy when building the goals as well, as they can impact the general meaning behind the business. This section should also include real, tangible goals for a business to hit over the course of a specific time period. While the goals may change over time, they will help drive the business forward when it is first starting out. 

Re-Evaluate Often
It is normal for business owners to revisit the strategy as the business moves forward, so make sure to dedicate time to re-evaluate the business strategy. This ensures that updates are made when necessary, and the goals match the business as it continues to grow. 

Building a strategy for a business can seem like a daunting task, but it can be highly beneficial for its long-term success. 

How Can Strategic Planning Benefit Education?
Strategic planning can not only benefit businesses, but it can also provide direction for schools and education leaders as well. Strategic planning can help provide an important direction for how a school or school district is going to make positive changes to how it functions and serves students. Not only can it provide clarity on its current efforts, but it can also determine any unexpected setbacks that should be worked through and outline strategies and initiatives intended to make improvements. 

Let’s take a look at a good example of how strategic planning can be used within a school district. In early 2021, the Montgomery Independent School District – where I serve as superintendent – announced it had begun the development of a three-year strategic plan. The district wanted to include voices, perspectives and input from a broad group of stakeholders. As part of the strategic plan development process, district leaders led a strategic plan town hall meeting, which was open to the public. The goal of the strategic planning efforts was to create a comprehensive improvement plan with measurable key performance indicators that would take effect at the start of the 2021-22 school year. Once finalized in Summer 2021, the district’s final strategic plan will also outline special district initiatives and strategies designed to help the district meet the measurable key performance indicators.

As the Montgomery Independent School District’s Superintendent, I outlined five district goals that would guide the strategic planning efforts. These goals were adopted by the district’s board of trustees. The five district goals are academic achievement, school safety, operations and finance, human capital, and communications and customer service. My leadership team and I have been focused on gathering as much feedback from the public as possible when determining steps to reach each outlined goal. We broke up the strategic planning work into 7 task force subcommittees – one for each of the five district goals, as well as committees focused on school counseling and district technology. The Task forces have grown to upwards of 50 individuals since the strategic planning efforts began, and the public input during this process has been remarkable.

Efforts like this highlight the importance of using strategic planning to improve how a school district functions and serves students. A district strategic plan also empowers district leadership to measure progress and share areas of growth and needed improvements with its board of trustees and community. 

A process that includes input from all stakeholders will ensure that a school district is utilizing and implementing a diverse set of perspectives in its efforts to improve district functions and boost student achievement. The long-term planning, combined with the focus on collecting feedback, will help ensure that the strategic planning process is as smooth as possible. 

To learn more, visit my monthly blog at heathmorrisonsuperintendent.com.