Have you ever sorted through dozens of recipes to find the right one for you, acquired and assembled all the necessary ingredients, positioned yourself in the kitchen, then stood there for hours waiting for your meal to cook itself?

Welcome to strategic planning.

One of the biggest questions business owners ask about strategic planning is “What ROI can we expect to see from strategic planning?”. It’s the right question to ask, but the answer may surprise you.

There is no ROI in strategic planning.

Zero. Nada. None. Strategic planning is an entirely sunk cost, an activity that, by itself, is a financial drain on your business.

“If this is true,” you’re wondering, “then why does every business book and guru tell me I should do it?”

Because every business book and guru assumes you aren’t going to stop after you create your strategic plan.

Go back to the cooking analogy at the beginning of this article. Strategic planning is like sorting through all available recipes to choose the one that aligns with your cravings at the time and leverages your level of cooking skill, the ingredients you have on-hand or could buy, and the amount of time you have to prepare the meal. And like strategic planning, all of this is sunk cost because nothing about choosing a recipe and gathering its ingredients puts food on your table.

Rather, it’s the act of cooking and enjoying the meal that creates the ROI on the time and money you invested in planning it.

In other words, while there’s absolutely no ROI in the act of creating a strategic plan, there is an exponential return to your business when you properly EXECUTE it.

Only when your business makes good on the goals and promises you’ve made in your strategic plan will you ever realize the financial impact you desire, and you’ll never make good on your goals and promises through planning. You’ll only ever do that through execution, doing what you said in strategic planning you were going to do.

In that sense, strategic planning is just an investment. Hear this: there is no ROI in strategic planning. Even if you execute exceptionally well, the ROI is not tied to strategic planning, it’s entirely a result of your ability to follow through on your plan.

If you truly desire an exponential return on your investment, you’ll find it when you significantly improve your ability to execute throughout your organization.