You have set goals for your business but do you have a strategy for achieving them or are you hoping it will magically happen?
In December 2020, I was working on plans for this website and as part of it, I carried out some market research.
I asked several different business owners if they were working strategically. It may or may not surprise you to hear that 50% of them said they wanted to work more strategically, but they didn’t know where to start. It meant they were figuring things out as they worked, and one person said they were hoping for the best.
I get it. When you hear the term business strategy, it can feel overwhelming, regardless of how long you’ve been in business. There are several reasons for this:
- You’re new to running your own business and you’re trying to figure it all out but you don’t know what you don’t know.
- What you do started out as a hobby and it naturally transformed into a business through word of mouth and it’s grown quickly, you’re getting sales and it’s going well but when it comes to a strategy, you don’t know where to start.
- Before you launched your own business, your role meant you never got involved in strategic conversations and you have a loose strategy, but you don’t really know if it’s the right thing or not.
- You’ve been running your business for several years, it’s going well, sales are coming in and it’s happened organically, so you’ve not thought about it.
- Quite simply, you want to work more strategically, but you don’t have a clue where to start.
What is a business strategy?
If you Google the term ‘business strategy definition‘ you will get lots of different answers but personally, I always describe it as understanding the direction you would like your business to go in and creating the foundations to achieve it.
When you have clarity on your goals, it’s about looking at what needs to happen in order to achieve them and from there the tactics/actions you need to take.
It doesn’t need to be complicated and personally, I always prefer to keep things simple.
Why is a business strategy important?
Creating a strategy will help you to formulate a plan for achieving your goals, and a good starting point is to analyse all aspects of your business to identify key areas to focus on.
We often get told to focus on the future but it is important to address the past because it will help us to understand the performance of the business. This is where creating a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) can really help.
Yes, the SWOT will help to highlight the strengths but it will also help you to think about how you can build on them and continue to play to your strengths. Whereas the weaknesses give you an opportunity to analyse what needs to be worked on to transform them. It’s all about evaluating the internal resources and external opportunities and threats.
When you have clarity and an understanding of the status and direction of your business, the strategy can start to be formulated.
“I’m not looking to grow my business”
You might think a strategy isn’t important for you right now because your business is doing well, you’ve got sales and you’re not looking to expand, so why do you need a strategy?
Understanding the data for your business will help you put things in place to ensure you have a sustainable business and to look at ways to make your business more efficient. This might be in relation to cost, time or resource (person or tech).
When you evaluate the information, it can be a real eye-opener and highlight blind spots, areas of concern, as well as areas for development.
“It’s just me in my business”
That’s fine but honestly, thinking strategically will make a huge difference.
You don’t want to be suffering from burnout because you are working 24/7, I’m pretty sure that’s not why you launched your own business. Remind yourself of why you created your business, what did you want to achieve? Was it financial security? Was it freedom or was it something else?
Now stop and be honest, is your business going to plan?
If you’ve answered, “no”, why is that? If you’ve answered, “yes”, amazing. Either way, I would love for you to message me to tell me why it is/isn’t going to plan.
How to create a business strategy
This is the fun part because it is about really understanding you and your business and goes back to the goals you first set, having a vision and understanding your core values. What is the value proposition for your customer?
Next, it’s about creating a SWOT to really understand the problems you want to solve and the approaches and plans you need to take to create the solutions. Yes, this all sounds very simple but it’s not going to happen in 10-minutes. It takes time to sit down and really understand what is going, getting clarity on the bigger picture and digging deeper into all aspects of your business.
But, how are you going to manage the strategy? Do you need to think about Critical Success Factors and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) as a way to measure the strategy? Or, is it about creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) objectives? Either way, it’s important to be able to measure the success of the strategy.
“Now I am confused”
Honestly, all businesses are different and it depends on the size of the business, what your priorities are and the areas you want to focus on and how you like to work.
You might prefer one big strategy with tactics to work on how to achieve it. Or you might have a bigger picture strategy and strategies for individual areas such as a social media strategy, cost-saving strategies and a growth strategy.
This is where having a sounding board can really help you figure out what is needed for your business because whether or not you have experience of creating strategies, having someone to bounce ideas and get into the nitty-gritty with you can make a huge difference.
Business strategy examples
The business strategy defines the approach you take, this includes the strategic plan and tactics to achieve your goals. Below are some business strategy examples.
Do you opt for volume or exclusivity? If you’re looking for volume, it’s deciding on a low to medium price point where is exclusivity is focused high ticketing prices. An example of volume could be to consider producing chargeable downloads such eBooks or an online course. Whereas the high ticketed price could relate to a VIP 1:1 Programme or Group Programme.
Another way of thinking about pricing is to think about the perception pricing brings. For example, there are two supermarkets next door to each other. One is Asda and the other is Waitrose. You can buy a tin of Heinz baked beans from both supermarkets but why do you choose one supermarket over the other? The product is the same but the price is likely to be different.
USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
If you’re developing a new product or service, what is it that gives you a competitive edge? Perhaps it’s the personality you add to your business through tone of voice, the language you use, the approach you take.
It might the process you take, for example, the ingredients you use to create your products, the way you do things differently and The Chocolate Smiths are a great example of this.
Who you want to attract to your products/services is another good example. Do you specialise in something that attracts a certain sector of the market, for example, is there something quirky that will resonate with your particular audience and help you to stand out?
How can I help?
Creating a strategy can be a daunting experience but it doesn’t need to be.
Yes, you can create a strategy on your own but sometimes it can be beneficial to have someone who is able to look at your business objectively and help you to create a plan to move your business forward.
I don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why I can’t guarantee the approach we will take but it’s why I like to work with clients over a minimum of three-months, it means we can create and evaluate to establish what’s working and what isn’t.
Book a free 20-minute call to find out whether we would work well together.