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Strategic Planning for Contractors is
Key To Business Success


Strategic planning is actually a misnomer, because people usually think of a strategic plan as a volume of excruciating detail on how the company will move forward. Actually, the most successful strategic plans are very simple. The more detailed a plan becomes the more dysfunctional it becomes. Stop reading for a minute and let that thought sink in, because that idea is critical.

Why is less more powerful? There are several reasons.

•  Short and targeted plans are more likely to be developed because they don't become a burden.

•  The details will need to change over time as the business environment develops around your business. So why waste time focusing on details that will never be implemented?

•  The shorter plan is more flexible, because its creators aren't defending all the details they spent so much time creating.

•  Simple and easy to use plans tend to get used instead of getting placed on bookshelves to collect dust.

In essence, strategic planning is about making choices—not planning. In other words, the process is about defining the direction of your business. It's about identifying your company's opportunities and how to take advantage of those opportunities. The reality is both people and companies that look into the future are more successful. Without a direction it's easy to get blindsided. For this reason, strategic planning is a business' first building block to success because it creates its foundation. Buildings without a sound foundation don't survive and neither do businesses.

There is no need to improve your marketing program, if you are marketing to the wrong prospects. There is no need to improve your systems, if you are building the wrong buildings. Instead, the first step is to determine the best path for your business, or your strategic plan.

What you need to do!

Instead of a large bureaucratic document, what's needed is a lean adaptable one or two page guide. If it's only a couple of pages, it's easy to carry around and more important understand. Then every major company decision can be measured against the strategic plan to make sure the decision moves the company in the right direction.

A strategic plan has five key elements. The first two are the vision and the mission statements. The vision statement defines how the company wants to see itself. The mission statement defines how company wants the customer to perceive it. Both should extend ten years or so. It's unrealistic to plan beyond that and anything shorter will create too much fluctuation in the planning process.

The next element of the strategic plan is the list of objectives or goals. These should consist of eight to eleven specific goals that cover all aspects of the business and are measurable. The vision is the big picture, while the objectives focus on specific goals that must be accomplished to achieve the vision. The objectives are the equivalent of project milestones.

The fourth element is the strategies or the specific means and methods necessary to achieve the objectives. Without strategies the objectives are mere dreams. The objectives and strategies should reach out three to five years. The construction industry and its environment change too frequently to attempt to plan beyond that, therefore detailed planning beyond that is useless. However, unless you look into the future, you are likely to get blindsided. This doesn't mean that your goals and strategies can't be adjusted; in fact, they must if your plan is to remain flexible and realistic. However, you need direction to remain focused.

However, the key to achieving the desired results from your strategic plan is the development of the final step – the action plan where you prioritize your actions for the next 90 days. In this step, you actual do some planning for the next 90 days, but this is totally different than what it would be like to plan company actions for the next five to ten years. A 90-day look ahead is realistic and comparable with what you do on any construction project.

In essence, in this step you identify the specific actions that you must perform during the next 90 days to achieve your objectives on schedule. The important action is to prioritize what you need to do—then do it! This process will create a dynamic strategic plan that moves your company forward. Start building the foundation for you business right now!

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About the Author:

Ted Garrison is the author of Strategic Planning for Contractors. As president of Garrison Associates he is a catalyst for change. As a consultant, author and speaker he works with businesses in the construction industry to grow their business by improving profit margins and increasing productivity. He can be reached at 800-861-0874 or by email at For further information see his web page at

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