In the modern business world, the level of competition among organizations increases daily. The need for the continuous updating of technologies, products, and services, as well as expanding the assortment, which implies the satisfaction of new market needs, leads to fierce competition that many enterprises have to face. An organization with better products or services that causes great customer demand wins and conquers the market. For start-up companies that do not have credibility and client recognition, the situation is complicated by the lack of the necessary sustainable base for promotion and growth. In this regard, the development of approaches to sustainable development in modern conditions is associated with the extensive use of strategic planning that guides enterprises towards stable growth and overcoming the competitive barrier. This proposal aims to describe the role of strategic planning as one of the key aspects of start-up organizations’ development. The analysis of the features of this management mechanism will be reviewed based on a specific company, particularly, Bulb, the British electricity firm. Utilizing strategic planning makes it possible to achieve the set development goals under the influence of external and internal environments.
Strategic planning is the process of determining the goals of an organization, the necessary resources to achieve them, and policies aimed at using and acquiring these resources. Since start-up companies often do not have a sufficient material base for the development of their business, they have to direct their activity not only to market promotion but also to increase capital. In addition, concomitant challenges may arise, for instance, difficulties in managing human resources or establishing partnerships with suppliers and potential customers. In this regard, it is essential for the leadership of those companies that have recently been operating in the market to create an objectively sustainable development strategy. Strategic planning, in this case, is a valuable tactical solution that not only systematizes the whole range of development measures but also allows identifying the priority areas of work. Therefore, for start-up companies, this approach to growth is a significant managerial practice.
The basis of strategic planning is, firstly, the analysis of the real state of the external environment or its segments from the standpoint of developmental prospects. Secondly, the selection of promising sectors of the environment is conducted, as well as compiling long-term guidelines and areas of activity. Strategic planning aimed at the sustainable development of Bulb that is involved in providing renewable electricity in the UK should be considered a dynamic set of interrelated management processes. These aspects include defining a mission and goals, analyzing the external environment, determining functional potential, implementing strategies, and evaluating outcomes. When analyzing the external environment, managers need to timely predict the emergence of threats and opportunities, develop situational plans in case of unforeseen circumstances, and determine a strategy that may allow their company to achieve goals and turn potential risks into profitable chances. The adoption of these measures may provide Bulb with an opportunity to successfully survive in the market. Therefore, the research hypothesis is as follows: for the development of Bulb, strategic planning plays an essential role as a tool that strengthens the competitive advantage of the organization and enhances business sustainability.
Review of Literature
The value of strategic planning as one of the main tools for the development of start-up organizations is studied in academic literature, and many scholars confirm the importance of this managerial approach. Hung and Luo (2016) note that for the financial industry, this managerial mode is mandatory as a mechanism that helps avoid risks and maintain sound control practices in the era of digital budget planning systems. Also, many researchers highlight the relevance of managerial skills that are needed to establish a stable planning system (Kiznyte, Welker, and Dechange, 2016; Bachmann, Engelen, and Schwens, 2016). It is not enough to organize a phased work process; it is crucial to monitor the outcomes of any interventions and take the necessary measures timely in case of deviations from the course of development. At the same time, according to Oliva and Kotabe (2019), a start-up organization should have an appropriate innovative base in order to implement specific practices to maintain business sustainability. If resources are not available, managers should ensure a mode of operation that will coordinate business activities in the direction of capital accumulation in order to build up solid financial potential.
In academic literature, the importance of competent management at all levels of the organization is emphasized as a mandatory aspect of strategic planning, which particularly concerns start-up companies. As Meredith, Mantel, and Shafer (2017, p. 50) argue, “strategic plans are usually developed at the executive level”. This means that middle managers are the key parties that coordinate the work process in a planned development strategy. According to Yun et al. (2016), for young firms, planning is one of the initial development tools, and after it, the organization of control, human resources management, and other objectives should follow. At the same time, one of the main values of this approach is to increase the credibility of the company due to the faultlessness of work in the market. Huang and Marvel (2018) note that product innovation, as an aspect of successful activities, can be greatly enhanced due to strategic planning. Start-up projects that are associated with high risks of errors should consider this note and take appropriate measures. Otherwise, according to Rogers and Paul (2018), capability gaps are inevitable. Thus, appropriate and competent management and increasing business credibility are significant accompanying factors.
Some scholars draw attention to the challenges of implementing strategic planning in start-up projects. Rizan, Balfas, and Purwohedi (2019) argue that the external environment is one of the significant criteria that should be taken into account, and in case of changes, young companies may suffer losses. Internal aspects of work, in turn, are even more important factors. Such parameters as employee productivity, the quality of marketing policies, and other areas of activity influence the nature of planning (Nurcahyo, Akbar, and Gabriel, 2018; Oschman, 2017). Gill et al. (2017) note the importance of preparatory work and pay attention to such challenges as the lack of material resources and poor staff training. These problems can make it difficult to build an adequate strategy and impede planning.
Some scholars draw attention to the difficulties of implementing strategic planning in start-up projects. Rizan, Balfas, and Purwohedi (2019) argue that the external environment is one of the significant criteria that must be taken into account, and in case of changes, young companies may suffer losses. Internal aspects of work, in turn, are even more important factors. Parameters such as employee productivity, the quality of marketing policies, and other areas of activity influence the nature of planning (Nurcahyo, Akbar, and Gabriel, 2018; Oschman, 2017). Gill et al. (2017) note the importance of preparatory work and pay attention to such difficulties as a lack of material resources and poor staff training. These problems can make it difficult to build an adequate strategy and impede planning.
This research proposal aims to study the features of implementing strategic planning exclusively in start-up companies since, in many academic studies, key attention is paid to mature firms. Some scholars evaluate only those companies that have sufficient material resources and market recognition, which allows them to introduce their strategic planning projects methodically and in stages (Calvo et al., 2017; Sward et al., 2019). This gap is crucial to address because, for young companies, the importance of building a sustainable development strategy is more necessary. In individual studies, the implications of strategic planning are considered, but little attention is paid to the specifics of its preparation and implementation in start-up projects (Knight, Greer, and De Jong, 2020; Panigrahi, Shahi, and Rathore, 2018). Therefore, this research proposal is valuable as a background for a deep review of the prerequisites and features of the introduction of strategic planning in start-up companies.
The use of strategic planning in a specific start-up organization will be considered on the basis of short-term and long-term prospects, which can determine the characteristic nuances of development. Machado et al. (2017) state that at different stages, young firms need to achieve distinctive objectives and performance results. Also, Gonzalez’s (2017) position regarding a small value of strategic planning will be refuted. The opinions of individual scholars about the convenience of this mechanism in the context of budgeting policies and maintaining financial stability will be confirmed (Cosenz and Noto, 2018; de Oliveira et al., 2017). As a result, the advantages of strategic planning will be evaluated from different perspectives, and Bulb’s business will be strengthened by analyzing these prospects.
In order to conduct a productive study and obtain all the necessary data for analysis, an appropriate methodology is to be selected and applied. For Bulb, the company that specializes in providing renewable energy services, a comprehensive assessment should be carried out to examine the key features of its business, including the internal and external environment. As a research method, the mixed type will be applied, which allows evaluating the results of the evaluation both on the basis of a comparison of digital indicators and by using feedback from interested parties. In order to evaluate Bulb’s production performance indicators in the context of both internal and external operating environments, a number of parameters need to be considered. In particular, the average profit of the enterprise, the number of human resources, and other significant parameters are significant internal criteria. The share of market coverage, the number of partners, and similar indicators of external development are the necessary factors for evaluation. These data will be the basis for comparing the results of work before and after the implementation of the strategic planning program.
In order to collect data from interested parties, who are the company’s employees and managers, a survey will be used as a tool to quickly obtain objective information. A list of questions regarding the sustainability of the organization and its growth indicators will be proposed to respondents. The assessment of answers will be based on a scale of one to five, where five means a strong agreement, and one implies a strong disagreement. Such an approach to data collection can help analyze the positions of key stakeholders in statistical correlation and, at the same time, find out the characteristic features of enterprise development. Since strategic planning is the mechanism that is supposed to be implemented in the operating environment, an appropriate concept should be applied to maintain sustainable implementation. As this theory, Lewin’s change model can be utilized, which, as Hussain et al. (2018) argue, includes three stages and allows introducing such valuable approaches as preparing for intervention, implementing changes, and evaluating outcomes. The results of the assessment will be presented both on the basis of feedback from interested parties and by using statistical reports to compare operational results.
As the main tool required for this research, a strategic planning program will be applied. The whole procedure consists of a phased analysis of the priority areas of development for Bulb. Also, the achievement of intermediate goals is planned as one of the main principles of work. Thus, the new program is a key independent variable, and the firm’s operating results are a dependent variable. As the goals are planned to be achieved, one can propose to create a sustainable business through a program of work planning and earning market credibility. Addressing these objectives is a standard practice when implementing the program since the maitaskkf working in this mode is to achieve stable operation without significant risks. The research objectives will be communicated to all interested parties to comply with the ethical principle of work and to ensure the willingness of both employees and managers to fulfill their immediate responsibilities responsibly. In addition, the introduction of Lewin’s change theory also requires preparation in order to provide a solid background for intervention and keep the results achieved in the future.
The analysis of the results of the intervention will be carried out after obtaining the necessary data on the sustainability of the implemented strategic planning program. Since a mixed research principle is proposed, two main parameters will be considered: operational results of the work in the updated mode and the opinions of interested parties regarding the results of activities. Managers can provide theailed evidence of the success of the new approach in the context of performance indicators and other criteria that determine Bulb’s business sustainability. At the end of the implementation process, it is essential to prepare appropriate appraisal practices in order to maintain work in the updated mode and monitor compliance with the strategic planning conditions in the company. For these purposes, a program to evaluate key indicators may be developed, and responsible persons should be appointed to monitor the organization’s activities. All subsequent assessment procedures involve comparing the current results with previous ones and creating the conditions for trouble-free planning.
One of the few limitations of this method is the lack of a clearly defined program for maintaining sustainable planning after the implementation of the project. However, a solid academic background provides an opportunity to consider in detail how strategic planning in start-up organizations can function and be controlled. As a result, after carrying out all the necessary procedures, Bulb’s leaders will be able to establish a system of control over the stable operation of their company and ensure a continuous analytical process. Thus, the proposed methodology covers all the necessary objectives.
Research and Writing Timeline
By using the example of the Gantt chart presented in Table 1 below, the basic research timetable is given. This schedule is conditional, but the key milestones have been planned, and adherence to this regime is expected. All the presented stages of the research process will be held in accordance with the specific goals set, and the writing time is the longest period to perform.
|Task||September 2020||October 2020||November 2020|
|Week 1-2||Week 3-4||Week 1-2||Week 3-4||Week 1-2||Week 3|
|Data analysis time|
|Date of the first draft submission|
|Expected defence time|
Table 1. Research Process: Gantt Chart.
The proposed study does not contradict with the ethical principles of research and engaging the target audience. All the participants are aware of the significance of the study and agree to the processing of personal responses. No corporate standards of communication are violated, and the entire staff of the company is acquainted with the goals and objectives that are planned to be achieved in the process of intervention. The theories and concepts utilized provide a corresponding academic base and are used as a scientific background. The results of the work conducted will be disseminated among all interested parties. The leaders of the organization provide data on the development of the company voluntarily and agree to receive assistance in implementing the strategic planning program.
The research aimed at introducing a strategic planning program as a potentially effective development mechanism is offered on the basis of Bulb, the UK start-up organization. The assessment of the external and internal environments of the company is a mandatory working condition. A mixed type of study with the use of Lewin’s change model can help create a productive background for introducing and evaluating the updated program of activities. The stages of the study have a time frame, and all the ethical principles of work are observed. The practical significance of the research lies in an opportunity to demonstrate the value of strategic planning as a methodology to increase the company’s credibility in the market and a tool to avoid financial and other risks.
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