There are strategic plan templates for businesses and there are templates for the working class, but I would be surprised if anyone finds a template for the creature I want you to become.
I had to borrow from several personal and business plans to develop one for NME and the Company of Ones. The best I can do for you is share the NME/Company of Ones plan as a model while you get a peek into the goals, objectives, strategies and tactics I plan to use in my company.
Human Strategy, Not Corporate
The Company of Ones does not, nor do we ever intend to be, a conglomerate. We see ourselves as socially responsible indie entrepreneurs. Our purpose is not about greed; it’s about fairness and personal opportunity.
Our plan is about us, our souls, our families, our friends and neighbors, our needs, our wants and dreams, our beliefs and principles. It’s about our desire to take charge of our own lives at home and at work.
Strategic planning for us seems weird because it’s so corporate and so uncommon for use at the human level.
That’s why I looked for another alternative and found “personal development.” Personal Development Plans (PDPs) include stuff like self-awareness, skills, self-esteem, employaibility, career potential, time-management, etc.
But PDPs don’t go far enough for us. We are looking to use personal development as an alternative to corporate strategic planning. We want to take out the word “corporate;” not “strategic.”
Although it seems weird, the framework of strategic planning fits our purpose, but how and why we use it is completely different. Let’s begin by humanizing strategic planning.
A Tale Without Strategy
My first experience in not thinking strategically came as a young college professor when I decided to build a “spec house” instead of teaching a summer class. I had built a home for myself the preceding summer and it was fun.
On a whim I traded in my beloved golden Oldsmobile Toronado for another building lot. The price I had paid for the car was exactly equal to the amount of my first year’s salary! I was single. Why not! I loved that car. But then, I’m an unrestrained car lover as you know from my essay on consumerism.
That summer I learned several things. First, building a house for someone else on speculation wasn’t nearly as much fun. My father was more than willing to help me build my own house, but he opted to use his next miner’s vacation for himself. I was overly ambitious in building the house of stone and I wasn’t finished by the time the fall classes began.
But the big shock was finding out that the housing market always took a nosedive in the fall after all the incoming college professors had purchased their homes and were comfortably settled. The realtor brought me very few prospects and no sales. By the time I had weathered the winter and the payments on interest, my spec house sold for less than I had in it. Worse, I had lost my Oldsmobile!
I’m a slow learner! I went on to own four small businesses and launched several projects without ever having a strategic plan. They were all marginally successful but as I look back I see what could have been if I had only known what I know now.
It was only when I became a top executive in two professional associations and a healthcare NGO (non-governmental agency) that I became heavily involved in strategic planning.
Now I’m like that actuary I mentioned in the last essay, I’m looking back and seeing forward.
As I developed and launched NotMyEconomics I realized its success would depend on more than a great course and a flashy website. It would have to be found and it would need marketing.
I finally decided to do a strategic plan and that led to the unexpected creation of the Company of Ones.
To emphasize my point, through strategic planning, I looked into the future and discovered NME students were going to need more than the course if they were to reach the level I had set for them. I would need a company populated by lots of talent to provide support for those graduates and to make places for them in a better business environment.
NotMyEconomics was never intended to be a moneymaker and it never will be. It was just something I wanted to do for the common good. But, the Company of Ones might be a different story. It could be really big!
Come on now. This is going to be fun. Overlook the work, it’s all about you and it’s what you are going to discover about you. I bet there is a really good surprise or two waiting for you too!
First Let’s SWOT Ourselves
Strategic planning, however, isn’t just about surprises. It’s about avoiding surprises. Take the SWOT for instance.
I know, that sounds like you’re going to get slapped. But SWOT is an acronym for analyzing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It could be a slap. It is definitely a reality check and you might want to involve others in it — people who are not afraid to be candid. My wife loves to SWOT me! I’m so abused.
You’ll examine what you do well — your skills, knowledge, experience, how you measure up to others. You’ll examine your weaknesses, lack of resources, potential or lack of potential for profitability, time and money and where you need to improve.
Then you’ll look at your opportunities, how you can use technology to enhance your capabilities. You’ll think about your targets and how to extend your reach. And you’ll consider the threats you will face such as competitors, your industry and the economy. You’ll identify improvements you need to make in yourself.
Confusing But Not Rocket Science
Strategic planning really isn’t rocket science, but it can be confusing because of the seemingly similar keywords used — goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. Let’s get them straight.
Goals are what you want to achieve. They are the whats, not the hows. They are general statements without details. For example, one of the Company of Ones’ NME’s goals is to change economics at the grassroots level.
Objectives put some flesh on the goals. They are more specific and measurable. They get confusing because objectives are a subset of goals, just more specific. One of NME’s objectives is to help at least 100 people like you help themselves by becoming socially responsible indie capitalists or companies of one. The objective is to achieve that target in the first full year.
Strategies are the hows. One of the Company of Ones’ strategies is to develop a free website with the NME course for those who need it most. Already done.
Tactics come later in the Green Zone, but tactics will include marketing and the use of crowdfunding as a means of keeping the website free and sustainable. That’s where the thinking meets the road.
Strategic plans can cover varying periods of time. Three, five, ten years. My plan is just for the start-up year for NME. Strategic planning for The Market Force is in its early stages for Phase II of this project. It will likely be a three-year plan.
Now I am pleased to introduce a guest presenter for today’s class on this topic. J. Glenn Ebersole, an expert in strategic thinking for business, work and personal life. His remarks were first published by The Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.
I am particularly fond of Glenn’s work because he is one of the few professionals who thinks of strategic planning in ways that fit with indie capitalists and companies of one.
He is recognized as a visionary, guide and facilitator in the fields of marketing, public relations, management, strategic planning and engineering. He is director of Strategic Marketing and senior consultant at LMA Consulting Group in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
For the full lecture please go to Critical Skills.
Please move on to the next essay
Intro: The NME StratPlan©