Think strategic planning is something only big companies need to worry about? Think again. Strategic planning is often the key for business growth, customer retention and achieving long-term goals. The confusion of many small businesses is that owners think strategic plans are already covered in their overall business plans. But this simply isn’t the case.

How are strategic plans different from overall business plans? These four hallmarks of strategic planning will help you differentiate between the two and develop an overall plan to help your business thrive.

The Strength of SWOT

While a business plan tends to focus the positive, strategic planning highlights areas where improvement is needed. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Examining these four issues will help provide some simple business intelligence for small businesses. This is the foundation of any good strategic plan as it highlights the areas in which your company can improve the most.

Methodology

Like a business plan, strategic plans also focus on the dream or vision of a company, which is why they are often confused. But strategic planning doesn’t just lay out a vision for the future — it follows through by outlining the path a company will take in order to reach that goal.

Functionality

The best strategy won’t do a business any good if it isn’t grounded in the real world. The methods you lay out as part of your strategy plan should take how your business runs into consideration. Industry specific variables such as seasonal spikes in sales or changing developments should be accounted for in order to ensure your strategies can be implemented in real world settings.

Actionable

Once you have methodology and strategies in place, it’s time to set out specific calls to action. Break down your goals into calls to action that can be delegated to specific people, teams or departments. By using simple business intelligence for small businesses, owners and executives can determine which people are best suited to spearhead specific actions. This can be based on job description and personal talents and strengths, bringing out the best in all your employees and making them feel emotionally and professionally invested in the future of the business.