Strategic business plans are essential to help you chart the course of your business over the next few to several years. They should be flexible. They’re not meant to be voluminous with pages and pages of data that could be obsolete in several months. A strategic business plan is there to help you address the “what ifs” and get you thinking about your options, your market, your competitors, the way you go to business. If you write a strategic plan and review it a minimum of quarterly, you’ll be better at keeping your finger on the pulse of your business and industry and able to make changes, rapid or otherwise, accordingly.
In tandem with a strategic business plan, for those whose businesses are either growing rapidly or have grown so much that the infrastructure is either non-existent or in extreme disarray, is the operational business plan. The operational business plan is typically much longer than a strategic business plan because it covers all the operational areas of your business – from finance to production to sales to customer service. It documents the “how we do what we do”.
I briefly skimmed (see, I admit when I don’t fully read something!) an article on Inc.com on operational business plans. What I liked most was that they included a link to an operational business plan template used by the subject of the article. If you’ve never seen such a plan, this gives you an introduction to what one looks like. Here’s the link: http://viewer.docstoc.com/.