When I first created my business plan years ago, I read countless articles with advice about making it strategic but less about how it should also be tactical. The key difference between the two is that strategy frames the actions, while the tactics are the actions themselves.
After sending my business plan to my investor, he gave me some practical advice on how to make it tactical. While it may sound complicated, creating a tactical business plan is pretty straightforward once you understand what’s involved. Thinking on a more tactical level has helped my business grow exponentially over the past year due to our investor's help.
Here are some of the points that have helped us grow tactically.
Think Strategically, Then Tactically
Although many people tend to be tactical versus strategic, it can be important to develop both thinking patterns when creating your business plan. By growing both tactical and strategic mindsets, you may be able to look at your business from the perspective of short and long term, narrowly and broadly focused, and opportunistic while risk-aware. Combined, strategy and tactic can lead to a comprehensive, detail-oriented business plan.
It may be best to complete a strategic planning process prior to making your business plan tactical. This can include determining where you're starting, the intended outcomes and the metrics to assess results. The process includes creating strategic goals and objectives aligned with the intended objectives and a set of tactics to accomplish them.
From there, you can approach the process from a different angle by focusing on tactical planning. This is where you would dissect the strategic goals created for your business plan and look at them as what actions you will take as part of your daily business operations. The tactical aspects of your business plan may provide the details of what to do, when it needs to be done and how these actions will accomplish the strategic objectives of the business plan.
Questions to ask yourself when developing tactics include:
- How can the strategic goals be achieved within the existing resources?
- What daily, weekly and monthly actions accomplish the preferred outcomes?
- What part does each person/department play in making these tactics work?
Create the Tactical Approach to Your Business Plan
- Identify the departments or areas that can use and handle each tactic. Even if you have a small company, it may still have departments, including marketing, sales, human resources and IT. Divide up the existing strategy and assign it to each department or area so you can better understand the role that each department plays in the overall outcomes. This list of resources can help provide a way to assign responsibility to each person in the organization so they are accountable.
- Allocate resources for each tactic. Each tactic ideally receives its own budget needed to profit. The costs include all expenses, some of which are assigned to different areas, such as marketing, sales and administrative. This is a metric that can be used later on to see the level of success with this tactical approach.
- Decide what each department should accomplish in terms of a tactic or action item. Use solid reasoning to determine why this department would undertake this tactic as well as how it ties to the overall strategic objectives.
- Implement the channels necessary for communicating with senior management. This is where both those responsible for the tactics and those overseeing completion can share information, work together on any issues or barriers and provide further assistance or resources.
- Assign an allotted time to each tactic. This can later be used as a metric when gauging strategic success. You can then put together these timeframes into an overall timeline that shows how each tactic has a deadline to provide the big picture.
- Establish how and when you will evaluate the progress of each tactic. Consider making this part of your business plan as well, because this tactical section also addresses the resources and actions necessary to evaluate achievements.
Put It All Together
When I approached my business plan from a strategic and tactical perspective, I had a broader and more detailed outlook on my startup and what was needed to get results. Beyond just a list of to-do items, the tactical approach provided the detailed action items for each area and member of my business as well as the numbers I needed to track resources and how results were achieving the strategic objectives. It also increased accountability for everyone involved and offered them a better picture of the role they played in making it happen.
Read more articles about business plans.
A version of this article was originally published on January 5, 2015.