I would say they are not the same thing. A business plan is a set of goals the company wants to archive while a business strategy is how the company would go about getting to those goals. As to what the most difficult part about developing a business strategy, I would say is finding one that works with you/your team. You can find a lot of different ways to go about things, but only some will work for you.
Hope that answered your question.
I agree with both Matt and Paul.
A business plan is an exercise in what a business thinks it should do
Business strategy gives you a sense of your progress towards your goals
and also give you a feeling for the general health of your business.
Key business indicators tell an integrated story.
A business plan is a class of document that shall have moreless common structure, including the strategy. Besides, business plans often discuss about operational plan, financial plan, risk analysis, etc. So business plans tends to cover somewhat wider scope than just strategy.
Thanks for the comments so far.
So, I get some general agreement that the 2 are different. Not a statistical sampling, I know.
Essentially, I believe a Business Plan is for the start-up phase of a business (or early phase and or a major growth phase requiring, maybe, some serious cash). The Business Plan establishes things like structure and tells what the business is ‘about’. For me the time horizon is shorter than the Strategy. The Business Strategy, for me, is for an established business and outlines where a business is going. It highlights direction, priorities, maybe purpose. Considering a longer time horizon (long being based on the cycle of business). Strategy gives clarity to the actions, defines the key priorities of the organization and key objectives that would be outlined in any Business Plan.
What I perceive from some discussions with both business owners and mid-level big-company folks is that "strategy" is difficult. I'm not getting a real good sense of "why?", however. I get vague answers.
Any thoughts on this?
Again, thanks for engaging in this discussion.
Business plan and business strategy are close but not same. In the lender point of view you that your comprehensive plan of your business from A to Z, where as business strategy which is your personal plan to run the business. The Northern California Business Minority Development Agency has published in popular American Businesses For Sale web site http://www.bizworldusa.comunder the Business Plan Blog. I hope their extensive explanations will give better idea and clarification.
Great answers so far! Keep them coming!
Wow! Kudos on my first topic.
@Rvan. I agree, mostly, though I don't think strategy is necessarily a personal plan. My preferred definition of strategy, I picked up somewhere, is that strategy is the "Integrated set of actions to achieve [objective(s)]". I do think it is a component of a business plan but not the same thing.
For me, if I am working on a strategy, I'm outward focused (market, customers, key issues, trying to forecast trends, etc.). I would be looking to identify the critical success factors for growth/leadership/survival/etc. This would lead me to top prioritized actions the business needed to take and then much of the other company specific stuff falls out --> the business plan.
So, kind of to my last question, what makes "strategy" difficult to formulate or execute?
To bias my question, I have found over many experiences where biz owners or brand leaders grab some template (most often a "Business Plan" template), jump into filling it out thinking that strategy and direction magically appears. And when it doesn't, they don't know where to go next. So, why is the strategy part so hard?
Okay, I'm going to chime in here as well. The way I see it is that the actual "Business Plan" is the overall plan in which the subset "Business Strategy" resides; similar to being just one of say, three people standing under an umbrella. The Business plan is what is created and formulated prior to beginning the business which, like others have said, gives an outline of goals and expectations, a set of directions on how this goal will be accomplished as it were. The business strategy however, is the long term game plan detailing how the management should direct the firm so that it can compete within the industry once the business is underway.
The most difficult part of the business plan ... making sure to outline and account for all aspects of the plan and polishing it to a complete picture for presentation to your financial provider.
The most difficult part of a business strategy would be formulating a successful plan and maintaining it thorough change so that it continues to provide you with an accurate compass leading to success. Yes, a business strategy requires much more maintenance than a business plan because it is an ongoing facet that not only helps to start a company but also continues to guide it through its journey. Failure to follow through on continued maintenance can result in the business failing.
Much like growing a garden, the planting of the seeds and the expected produce that will grow would be your business plan but without the additional maintenance of weeding, watering and controlling infestation the garden will not produce and could ultimately be lost all together.
And those are my thoughts!
I have to tell you, I love that metaphor. Copyright?
Glad to have more comments on the side of "different, yes, but integrated and related".
Any other opinions? If you just viewed the thread, add a comment. I saw over 1000 views on the topic.
I'm still interested to hear what major challenges or frustrations business owners have when trying to outline a business growth strategy. Anyone?
If there is any copyright at all on my words, it's a sort of "poor man's copyright". Much like the days when an entrepreneur would send his/her idea plans, designs and/or blueprints to themselves in the mail and then not open it using the postage date as proof of the date he/she came up with the concepts, my only copyright on my words is the post you read above. If you would like to use my analogy, feel free! I'm glad that I wrote something that someone feels is worth repeating! Happy holidays to you and yours and have a wonderful new year!
I've been having an off-line debate the past few weeks on a blog post I wrote re: the differences between a Business Plan and a Business Strategy.
The position I took is that they are different. And are used at different times in a business cycle to achieve different objectives.
So, I thought I'd reach out to a forum to get a sense of common opinion/perception on this issue.
And I ask: "Are Business Plan and Business Strategy the same thing?"
And, if not, "What is the most difficult part of developing a Business Strategy?"
I will really appreciate your opinions.