With such an abundance of resources available and the acknowledged importance of the strategic planning process, one would assume that most business leaders incorporate strategic planning into their yearly activities. An assumption but not necessarily a reality; during my 20 years of consulting with small and mid-sized business, I have seen very few employ even an informal strategic planning process.

Given the excessive number of excellent strategy books available, why are the small to mid-sized companies not utilizing this important tool? It is my belief that it is due to the complexity of even the simplest book written on the subject and the time constraints of the busy executive to absorb the detailed information.

Entrepreneurs are juggling an inordinate amount of activities. Most business leaders are consumed during the day with operations and in the evening with follow-up activities and reading industry related literature. Just scanning the first chapter of many of the strategy books can be overwhelming, causing the reader to set the book aside for a later date when they have more time to absorb its contents. A date that rarely ever arrives, especially given the amount of other pending issues that are vying for attention. In this lies a great loss, for the strategic planning process is a crucial component to a company’s long-term success.

This Simply Put summary does not strive to map the entire process in full detail or provide pages of case studies and other supporting data. Rather it is written from the perspective that a simplified action-oriented approach, implemented, even if lacking depth and detail, is more beneficial to the business leader than the most elaborate comprehensive manuscript sitting on a bookshelf, unused. This is not to say that this summary is void of the fundamentals. More accurately it is condensed, extracting from the elaborate models only those elements that are fundamental to the process. Furthermore, the discussion and approach is simplified, so that it can be read today and implemented tomorrow. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, it has been derived from years of facilitating strategic planning session for the small to mid-sized companies and contains original thought-processes.

The information is presented first in an overall outline and then further defined in paragraph format. Each section will lead the business person through a series of questions, which when combined will produce a well thought-out strategic plan.

About the Author

Lori Williams has over 20 years of experience in strategic planning, marketing, operations and finance. She has functioned as a business owner, corporate officer and consultant in a variety of industries.

In 2004, Lori founded LW and Associates, with a mission to help middle market companies get to the next level of growth by applying the lessons learned through years of involvement in strategy, marketing, finance and operations. As a business consultant, Lori’s diverse background and exposure to a variety of industries gives her a unique advantage when working with clients.

In 2007, Lori Williams also founded Business Simply Put (a division and trademark of LW and Associates) out of a desire to serve the small business community. To this end, she developed products and services affordable to start-ups, small companies and individuals. Lori believes that all entrepreneurs should be advantaged by the expertise that in the past has been only available to large corporations.

Lori is an adjunct professor at the Lloyd Grief Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC. She holds an MBA from Pepperdine University, BS Business and Management, an AA in Medical Science, and a Practitioner’s License in NeuroLinguistic Programming.