Core Small Business Skills – Strategic Business Planning

Research into the failure of Australian small businesses has identified, that in 90% of cases, a lack of small business management skills were one of the key causes of business failure. Strategic Business Planning is just one of the core business skills entrepreneurs and small business owners should be looking to develop in order to effectively manage their small business.

Strategic Research

It is important to be able to identify and locate relevant business research. This includes information relating to the global economic environment, national and regional economic information, social and demographic information, social trends, industry and competitive intelligence as well as internal business reports and analysis.

While this kind of information is important, it is vital that you also undertake research to determine customer satisfaction, feedback, complaints, demands and wishes. This type of information helps in the development of better value propositions and is important to product development.


You need to be able to take this research and analyse what it means to your business. You need to be able to assess your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in light of this research. Being able to undertake complex analysis is the key to determining appropriate long-term, intermediate and tactical strategies.

Strategy Development

Using your research and subsequent analysis you need to have the skills to determine what your business’s end game should be and to map out an appropriate strategy for achieving those objectives. A small business owner who takes all the information he can to determine the strategic path his business should be on will be able to make informed decisions based on numbers and hard fact, rather than gut instinct.

Business Planning

Successful entrepreneurs and small business owners need strong business planning skills. You need to be able to take your strategy and communicate it to all the relevant stakeholders. This includes your bank manager, angel investors, your staff, third-party suppliers and anyone else who has a stake in your business. Usually the vehicle that is used to formally communicate your strategy is your business plan.

Business planning skills will help you create a clear, concise document which defines your business vision, your mission and values as well as the strategic path you have chosen and why. You should be able to identify each of the goals and objectives and outline in the plan how and when each of the steps on the journey will be achieved.

Strategy Communication

Simply having a strategy is not enough. You need to be able to articulate that strategy so that people can both understand what it is you are trying to achieve and also their role in assisting you in achieving that goal. Once that is understood, people need to ‘buy into’ the vision and you need to be able to communicate not only the strategy but be able to sell it in such a way as to have your audience commit to achieving those goals.

Developing strong strategic development skills will stand you in good stead as you grow your business. You will be surprised how often you are called upon to articulate your business strategy and, having been through a process which includes researching your business environment, you get to know your business intimately and will be able to discuss the analyses that lead to your business plan and to communicate that strategy whenever required.