3 Ways to Make Strategic Planning Work for Your Small Business

As a startup company, it’s important that ShearShare plans ahead for what’s to come for our beauty and barbering professionals. Whether it’s a new app update, legislation that can affect our industry, or ensuring that we are providing our community with the best service possible – strategic planning is key to any business. Our co-founder, Courtney Caldwell spoke to technology website Built In about ShearShare’s process of strategic planning and how we got there.

Is Strategic Planning Working?

Objectives and key results didn’t work for strategic planning at the startup ShearShare, an app for salon and barbershop booth rentals. Neither did key performance indicators, or simply using Excel to chart company goals.

“It just seemed like every time we tried to make that shift, there was like a hurdle that we were getting over, and I think it was just mental,” said Courtney Caldwell, co-founder, and COO of ShearShare. 

Then Courtney and her co-founder husband Dr. Tye Caldwell heard about the Rockefeller approach to strategic planning, and everything clicked. Based on the book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm, companies that use this approach to strategic planning focus on three principles for success developed by business magnate John D. Rockefeller: priorities, data, and rhythm. These are then used to create a one-page strategic plan. 

“This immediately resonated with the entire team,” Courtney Caldwell said. “Our leadership team loved it, so it was easier for them to push the message down to the frontlines of the organization, and it’s something that has stuck with us.” 

ShearShare’s leadership team gets together quarterly for a two-day retreat to set the company’s priorities and create the one-page strategic plan for the upcoming quarter. The plan outlines financial targets, along with key initiatives and priorities they call their “big rocks.” 

The leadership team then brings the plan back to the department leaders who discuss it with their direct reports and come up with quarterly team goals that are presented back to company leadership for final approval.

“It’s not something that comes down from just the executive team or from the founders,” Courtney said. “It is first the individual being able to see where the leadership for ShearShare has set the terms for this next quarter, for the next 90 days, and then they say, ‘Okay, cool, then these are the things that I’m going to commit to doing,’ giving themselves a couple of stretch goals as well.”

How to Measure Outcomes of Strategic Planning

Courtney Caldwell said one measure of success for ShearShare is how well the individual team members can communicate about the company’s current objectives and articulate how their work fits into them. The company leaders also evaluate what “blockers” are preventing progress on quarterly goals and what can be done to address them. 

“It just ties back into everyone being able to take a look at their one page strategic plan and see themselves in it because towards the end of that plan, it shows your individual accountability methods,” she said. “How are you and your day-to-day goals tying back to the big rocks in the organization?”

What Makes a Strategic Plan Successful?

Courtney Caldwell emphasized that organizations need a core set of beliefs and values to ground strategic planning — and be sure to recruit staff that can fill any weaknesses or gaps needed to achieve the company’s vision, she said.

“We tried so many different things, and you can get frustrated if the OKRs don’t work and the KPIs don’t work, but figure out what works for your individual team,” she said.  

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