How to write a strategic plan with a simple outline

Updated June 18, 2018

A successful strategic business plan begins with a simple outline of the plan. If the plan resists outlining, the plan concept needs further work until you can outline it. For many small businesses the outline alone will suffice as a strategic guideline. For more complex businesses you can fill in the outline further, but the outline itself should always come first.

Establish a strategic goal. For example, you have a one-person technical report-writing business with a current income of £19,500 per year. You want to grow the business to £65,000 per year. This is your strategic goal.

Consider the various possible avenues that will lead your business to that goal. You may need more business from current clients; you may need more clients like the ones you have now; and you may need new clients with bigger budgets. These are intermediate goals you need to meet as you work toward your ultimate goal.

Determine what you can do right now to achieve your goals. For example, to get more business from current clients, you could start by phoning each of them to set up a meeting to discuss their needs and how you can better fulfil them. Address your other intermediate goals in similar fashion, establishing steps for each, and detailing in a few words the execution of each step.

Write out your plan based upon your goal, the intermediate goals needed to achieve your goal, and each of the steps needed to achieve each intermediate goal, detailing each step in a few words.


Sometimes it may be best to work from the strategic goal backward, conceptualising the process in reverse. Establish goals that respond to an external need. Do not create your goals in a vacuum.


Never avoid strategic risk. Any change involves risk. Unless you accept reasonable risk you will create a strategic plan of limited effectiveness because the intermediate goals will consist of "baby-steps" of limited consequence.

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About the Author

Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.