Strategic business plans vs business plans

by Carly Clyne | Aug 16, 2021

time icon 3 mins

One thing we get asked often here at TBG is, what’s the difference between a strategic business plan and a business plan? It’s easy to see why there’s confusion between the two; there are many crossovers and you need both to get ahead in business.

In this article, we’re looking at strategic business plans vs business plans and dissecting their key differences. We’ll also show you how to make a strategic business plan for your future growth.

What is a strategic business plan?

The easiest way to explain the difference between your standard business plan and your strategic business plan is this:

  • A business plan answers the question: ‘What do I want to do?’
  • A strategic business plan answers the question: ‘How will I do it?’

In a nutshell, your business plan outlines your objectives and what you’ll need to fulfil them. This will include key points such as marketing and operational plans, SWOT analysis and financial projections.

Your strategic business plan features the same basic ingredients but lays out a detailed roadmap you’ll follow to reach the goals outlined in your business plan. The elements of a strategic business plan include: 

  • Specific activities and undertakings
  • Deadlines and due dates 
  • Key responsibilities for each aspect

Strategic plans also provide room for growth at each step and re-assessment in real-time.

When to implement a strategic plan

If you’re an established business starting to feel a bit hot under the collar over your current lack of a strategic business plan, don’t sweat! A strategic business plan can be implemented at any time – although of course, the earlier the better. For any start-ups, it’s essential and it should be prioritised.

If your company is going through a significant period of change such as a restructure, rebrand, growth or acquisition, this presents the perfect opportunity to put a strategic business plan in place.

How to make a strategic business plan

If you’re wondering how to make a strategic business plan, you’re not alone. For small businesses, especially having to put together a strategic business plan can feel like a daunting undertaking. However, it’s important not to neglect this stage, especially when you’ve already gone to the trouble of creating a strong business plan in line with your vision and goals. 

You’ll use the information gathered there to inform your strategic approach. When it’s done, you’ll feel more confident not just about where you’re headed, but also how you’re going to get there.

Creating a strong strategic business plan begins by identifying the objectives laid out in your business plan. In essence, much of the work has already been done and simply needs to be expanded upon. But if you haven’t already, you’ll also need to:


  • Assess your resources: Who is currently in the business? Will you need more people? Financially, how much do you have to spend? Will you need to expand your budget or acquire funding to achieve your desired outcome?
  • Write action plans: Detailed action plans will need to be written for each step required towards your principal goals. This forms the bulk of the ‘how’ aspect of a strategic business plan. 
  • Brainstorm strategies: Depending on the scale of your aspirations and ambition for growth, multiple minds will be needed to consider how you’ll get to where you want to be. What strategies are available to you? What have you (or others) used in the past with success? What will you need to access strategic support where specialists are required?
  • Determine how you’ll measure your success: You can’t properly implement a strategic business plan if you have no methods in place to measure your progress in each individual area. Installing ways in which each aspect can be assessed will be key to your overall success.

The secret to achieving each of these objectives lies in OKRs – or Objectives and Key Results if you’re new to the concept.

How to use OKRs for business plans 

Versatile and vision-based, OKRs can be implemented into your business plan and your strategic business plan. Unlike other goal-setting techniques, OKRs go a step further, enabling you to define the specific steps you’ll need to take to reach each individual goal in-depth.  

To use OKRs in your business plan and strategic business plan, break down the company goals into smaller goals. Then, define 3-5 steps for each department and/or person to follow to get there. It’s important to note that these aren’t designed to be performance markers – if you don’t achieve the objective or key result within the allotted time then it’s simply time to regroup, reconsider and put new plans in place.  

Using and implementing OKRs with little experience is a bit of a learning curve. It can be tricky and time-consuming – especially if you’re new to strategic business planning. If you’re overwhelmed or simply unsure of what’s involved or needed to secure a strong strategic plan for your vision and values, get professional support to help you streamline the process and set your business up for success.

At TBG, we’re well-versed in helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to access the scaling power of OKRs, from SMEs to blue chips. Get in touch with a Giant today to learn more about how we can help you to implement OKRs successfully.