Relax. You’re not alone, many businesses struggle to develop a clear and cohesive business strategy.
Don’t relax too much. This stuff really matters.
I once asked the MD of a new client whether he had a business strategy. Back came the answer, “Our strategy is growth.”
That’s not a strategy. That’s a woolly and rather meaningless aspiration. (I wasn’t quite so blunt with him.)
He might have said, “Yes, we aim to grow by 15% by 2025.” That’s still not a strategy. That’s a reasonably SMART objective.
So, what is business strategy?
Essentially, strategy is making informed choices about how to achieve your business objectives. Here are some of my favourite quotes on the subject:
“A good business strategy, then, is one by which a company can gain significant ground on its competitors at an acceptable cost to itself,” Kenichi Ohmae.
“The core content of a strategy is a diagnosis of the situation, the creation of a guiding policy for dealing with the critical difficulties, and a set of coherent actions,” Richard Rumelt.
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do,” Michael Porter.
“Strategy is the art of creating power,” Lawrence Freedman.
“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell,” Jack Welch. (Ever the pragmatist.)
Here at Fellowship we help businesses clarify their business strategy, ahead of shaping their brand image, story and style to help them achieve it. Because it can feel complex, we like to keep things simple.
Our approach goes like this:
- where are you now?
- why are you here?
- where could you go?
- where should you go?
- how will you get there?
Sounds straightforward enough, right? Here are some of the things we typically look at when we get into the detail.
This is where we are
We look at your business, its position in the market and the perceptions of it among your staff and clients.
We use established tools like SWOT and PESTL analysis to explore your situation and capture the key points.
We analyse your current clients and get clarity on the profile and needs of your ideal target audience.
We study your competitors and your clients to develop your distinctive brand image, story, style and value proposition.
This is where we want to get to
Core to your business strategy is a clear and specific articulation of where you want to be in say three to five years’ time.
Sometimes this can be captured as ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ – your equivalent of Kennedy’s ambition to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
It should be seriously stretching but achievable. Get it right and this has the power to energise and align your people behind something that really motivates them.
This is how we’ll get there
Where will you focus your resources and effort?
What will you stop doing, to enable you to do the things that really matter?
If you’re in an established, mature sector, you can only grow at the expense of your competitors. Who will you take business away from and how?
As well as selling more now to people who are already warm to you, are you investing enough in long term brand building, to create your future prospects?
Is your marketing consistently creating the positive perceptions and having the impact you need it to?
Questions, questions, questions.
Answering these as best you can is at the heart of effective business strategy. It should be an ongoing process, rather than a static plan.
As the world keeps moving and changing, your strategy needs to evolve and adapt in response.
Still struggling with strategy? Relax, we can help.