What To Include in a Strategic Business Plan (With Template)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 1, 2021 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated March 1, 2021

Published January 3, 2020

Business owners need business plans to guide their organizations through the process of achieving their long-term goals. An annual strategic business plan allows a business owner, or other members of the company’s leadership team, to examine their long-term strategic goals and determine the strategy they will use to achieve those goals. In this article, we discuss what an annual strategic business plan is and how to write one with an example template you can use to create your own.

What is an annual strategic business plan?

An annual strategic business plan is an outline of the strategy a business plans on using to achieve their long-term vision and reach their goals throughout the year. A strategic business plan can be used by a business owner to determine the strategy the business will use overall or by the leadership team of individual departments throughout the company.

Related: Ultimate Guide To Strategic Planning

How to create an annual strategic business plan

An annual strategic business plan should include 8 key sections. Follow these steps to write an effective annual strategic business plan:

  1. State information that defines the company.

  2. Perform a SWOT analysis.

  3. Identify business goals.

  4. Identify key performance indicators.

  5. Perform and summarize market research.

  6. Outline the business marketing plan.

  7. Make a financial plan.

  8. Write the executive summary.

1. State information that defines the company

One of the first things a strategic business plan should identify is the company’s mission and the principles and values that guide the decision making of the organization. The company’s mission statement should explain what the business is trying to achieve long-term. Identifying your company’s guiding principles and values helps your employees make the decisions that will move the company in the direction of achieving the goals outlined in your company’s mission. Your company’s mission and guiding principles and values can also inspire external parties such as investors and customers to support your business and take the actions you want.

Related: 36 Core Values That Are Essential To the Workplace

2. Perform a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis helps you analyze your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A thorough SWOT analysis helps you choose the strategies that will help you achieve your company’s goals while also helping you identify weaknesses and threats you need to be aware of when planning a strategy to overcome those obstacles.

Read more: SWOT Analysis Guide (With Examples)

3. Identify business goals

Your company’s mission statement should identify specific long-term goals your company wants to achieve, but there are several short-term goals you can use to help guide you towards achieving those long-term goals. When identifying business goals, each goal should follow the SMART technique, meaning every goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.

An annual strategic business plan should identify the short-term goals your company hopes to achieve over the coming year to help your company along its journey to achieving its overall mission. You can then simplify your annual goals further by identifying specific targets your organization needs to meet in each quarter and month to achieve those yearly goals.

Read more: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

4. Identify key performance indicators

Your company’s key performance indicators are the metrics you can use to measure your progress towards achieving your goals. Each goal may have both primary and secondary key performance indicators. When you can identify several key performance indicators, it allows you to make strategic changes at different phases of the business cycle to help you achieve your overall goal.

Related: Using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Achieve Goals

5. Perform and summarize market research

Your market research will make up a large portion of your strategic business plan as it should identify who your target customers are, who your competition is, what your market positioning and share of the market is and any competitive advantages your company has. For a business to be successful, it is important for them to know their target customer well and identify the strategies they will use to win those customers over their competitors. When identifying your target customers, you should try to determine what their wants and needs are.

6. Outline the business marketing plan

Once you have completed a thorough market analysis, your business should have the information you need to create a strategic marketing plan. The marketing plan should clearly identify the strategies you will use to attract new prospects and convert them into paying customers.

7. Make a financial plan

The final section of your strategic business plan should be a financial planning section that identifies your business’ revenue sources, makes calculated financial projections, creates a monthly cash flow budget and includes financial statements and a review, analysis and audit of those statements. Your financial projections should create measurable targets to help your business identify whether you are on target to achieve your overall goals for the year.

8. Write the executive summary

While the executive summary is typically the first section, it is often written in the final step. This is because this section is a brief summary of the most important points outlined in more detail throughout the rest of the sections. The executive summary is important because it briefly explains your business plan in a way that helps investors, employees and others understand and support your business.

Annual strategic business plan template

Use the following template as an outline to help you create your own annual strategic business plan:

Executive Summary:

[A brief overview that summarizes the remaining sections of the business plan]

Company Information:

[Mission statement]

[Guiding principles and values]

SWOT Analysis:

[Strengths]

[Weaknesses]

[Opportunities]

[Threats]

Goals:

[General goals for the year]

[Quarterly goals]

[Monthly goals]

Key Performance Indicators:

[Metrics your company will use to measure progress toward goals]

Market Research:

[Target customers]

[Competition]

[Market share and positioning]

[Competitive advantages]

Marketing Plan:

[Strategy]

[Client breakdown]

[Market positioning]

[Advertising]

[Public relations]

[Cross-selling opportunities]

Financial Plan:

[Revenue sources]

[Financial projections]

[Monthly cash flow budget]

[Financial statements and analysis]

[Financial reviews and audits]

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