Effective business counseling should be done in the context of a comprehensive strategic plan

November 13, 2014


October 2014 marks the issuance of a new chapter in Business Transactions Solution (§§22:1 et seq.) that discusses the key steps in designing, implementing and administering a formal strategic planning process and preparing the desired outputs of the process including a mission statement, a strategy statement, strategic goals and objectives, tactical and operational plans and an effective business plan.

The chapter discusses how environmental forces impact the strategic planning process and describes the two distinguishable layers of a company’s organizational environment–the specific environment, which includes the forces (e.g., stakeholders) that can be expected to have a direct impact on the ability of the specific company to obtain the scarce resources required for the company to create value for its owners and other stakeholders; and the general environment, which includes the forces that typically will have an impact on the shape and design of all companies, including the company and other companies who may be part of the stakeholder network of the company (e.g., economic forces; technological forces; political and environmental forces; and demographic, cultural and social forces).

The chapter also covers the various phases of the strategic planning process including collecting and analyzing information, strategy development using situation analysis, preparation of the mission and strategy statements, establishing strategic goals and objectives, preparation of a strategic plan and implementation and monitoring of the company’s strategic plan.  Finally, the chapter provides extensive practical guidance on the development and implementation of a business plan including a description of the purposes and uses of a business plan; the steps in collecting and analyzing information to be used to prepare the business plan (i.e., industry analysis, product and market analysis, competitive analysis, financial planning and analysis, organizational analysis and risk analysis) and a description of the main sections of a typical business plan.

Among the materials included in the new chapter are a Master Form and Clause Library for a business plan. The specialty forms library includes a business plan for a company planning to expand development activities, and a sample business plan for a technology company. and a client letter regarding preparation of a business plan.

The chapter also includes a strategic planning checklist, a new business strategy worksheet, a business plan drafting worksheet, a client letter and executive summary regarding preparation of a business plan, a Power Point presentation on business plan preparation to be used for law firm training purposes (§22:xx), a chapter on business plan preparation to be included training materials for new business counselors, and the following guides relating to various aspects of strategic and business planning from the Business Counselor’s Mini-MBA Program:

  • Business Counselor’s Introduction to Strategic Planning (§31:2 et seq.)
  • Business Counselor’s Guide to Contextual Factors and Strategic Planning (§31:8 et seq.)
  • Business Counselor’s Guide to the Strategic Business Planning Process (§31:21 et seq.)
  • Business Counselor’s Guide to Business Plan Preparation (§14:2 et seq.)

Business counselors may have some level of involvement in the strategic planning process of their client and should be aware of the following key steps in managing and completing the process of preparing and implementing a strategic plan:

  1. Recruit and organize the members of a dedicated strategic planning team, or working group, to oversee all of the steps in the planning process and develop a timetable and list of responsibilities for getting the plan completed on a timely basis.
  2. Creative an effective and comprehensive information system to collect and analyze information required for preparation of the strategic business plan including information on industries and markets, products and services, competitors and customers and suppliers.
  3. Collect and analyze historical financial information and begin creating income statement, balance sheet and cash flow forecasts for the planning period.
  4. Conduct an overall risk analysis before finalizing the recommendations in the strategic plan to ensure that all of the key assumptions regarding markets, products, technology and availability of resources (i.e., capital, equipment and personnel) have been thoroughly tested for validity and accuracy.
  5. Develop a strategic plan using relevant planning tools and methods such as “situational” analysis to create a mission statement, identify the target market and customer requirements, assess the potential strengths and weaknesses of the company’s business concept, identify and articulate the company’s competitive advantage and core competencies, identify opportunities and threats with respect to the business, analyze competitors and define specific strategies and tactics for product development, procurement, manufacturing, sales, marketing, finance and human resources.
  6. Establish processes and internal controls for implementing and monitoring the strategic planning including tracking of results and comparisons of results against budgets and milestones included in the plan.