Module 2: Strategic Planning

Your business ABSOLUTELY needs a strategic plan.

What is a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is a prioritized list of initiatives that have been heavily researched, planned with careful attention to process and resources and fits snuggly into your business model that can be executed to meet goals over the next three to five years. And it’s kind of important to have it ON PAPER!

What it’s not is a list of acquisitions, a to do list for your ongoing operations, a spring cleaning list to organize the shop, or many other things. Stick to those things outside of your current operations that can result in a calculable ROI and be completed within some time frame (even if that means it becomes operational).

We’re going to go over a few basic ingredients you’ll need to bring to the kitchen (Strategic Planning Kitchen) and then we’ll put the ingredients together for the meal, and I’ll come by your office to ensure that everything is cooked the way it should have been.

It is an inherently simple process.


Let’s get some definitions and “ingredients” out of the way


Mission - what is your organization’s purpose in the world. Short and Simple.

Vision - where are we going to be, what do we want the organization to look like

Goals - quantifiable hard numbers by a certain time. Agressive but Pragmatic

Core Competencies - What are you Great at?

Guiding Principles - how do you want your people behaving. Clear enough that everyone understands them and can apply them to even the smallest actions.

Initiative - Something you’re not already doing that will propel you toward the future you see for your business.

Strategic Filters - Applying values to the Mission, Vision, Core Competencies, Goals, and Guiding Principles to quantify the metrics that are important to you and your organization. You should be able to categorize your list from 6 to 12.

Hard Filter - If something doesn’t meet this criteria, it is eliminated from the list.

Soft Filter - Initiatives are valued on a scale from LOW to HIGH that allow you to compare initiatives for viability and allow you to prioritize.

Basics Tips

  • Make sure your mission and vision statements meet the definitions listed and are robust enough to meet your needs, but concise enough to not bore your audience - shareholders, clients, employees.

  • Ensure that your goals are quantifiable and have a due date (not necessarily a specific date, year or quarters are ok sometimes).

  • Ensure that your goals are ambitious, but not impossible pipe dreams.

  • Your core competencies should be what you do best - You should really focus on 2 or 3 top items that YOUR COMPANY (not you) REALLY masters!

  • Having guiding principles may seem daunting, but it’s a basic “morality” guide to how your business and everyone in it behaves.

  • You’ll make filters mainly sourced from these basics so make sure they’re air tight for the next step.

Forming Your Strategic Filters

When looking to form Strategic Filters, first take all of the things you might evaluate an initiative by and jot them down. If you want to involve staff (small business) or a board, this is a great time for brainstorming. Throw ideas out, jot them down on a whiteboard, and then when you hit a lull in the conversation send everyone out for a break. You want to involve your Mission, Vision, core competencies and guiding principles in these filters.

During this time, look for common themes and group those ideas. Try to come up with 6-12 common themed items, and then work on the phrasing that would either serve as a hard filter or a soft filter.

An example of a hard filter in a non-profit organization may be translated from a guiding principle to “help the community”

The filter would say “Does this initiative HELP the community or Hurt the community?”

Obviously here, if it hurts the community in any way, that organization may deem that as a “No” and fail the initiative. You would not sort this into the soft initiatives.

Soft initiatives are important but have different values. A high or low value would be given to initiatives in order to compare them to each other.

An example of a soft filter is “What is the annualized ROI on this initiative” - one initiative may have an annualized ROI of 17.467% and another may have an annualized ROI of 13.72%.

Understand that your filter may be as broad as “does this pass the smell test” or “does it give us the ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling” - which is really either a Hard or a Soft filter depending on your organization’s needs, OR as specific as an ROI criteria that it has to be at LEAST 23% total ROI in order to meet our financial goals.


What ideas do you have that would move you toward your goals. It’s amazingly simple. Come up with a list of things that might move you toward your goals.

Use the filters to narrow your initiatives down and prioritize them.

BOOM! You’re done!

Well almost, Here are some helpful tools and videos!

Hard and Soft Filters

Module 2 Strategic Planning Deep Analysis Worksheet

Downloadable PDF Worksheets

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