From the minute you had that miraculous lightbulb idea to create your unique business, to the moment you close a five-figure deal - your strategy is the very thing that will be there the whole way, to bridge your business to success. Developing the correct strategy is one of the first and most important things you can do for your business.
In essence, strategy is your flight manual, and you are the pilot. Your strategy is your bible, your blueprint, your ‘how-to'. It is the safety blanket for when things might go a bit south, or when your plans don't come to fruition in the way that you hoped they would.
Metaphors aside, your strategy details and your journey should depict a fully-fledged business itinerary. Because without a strategy, how can you direct your business toward your goals?
The importance of a solid business strategy
If your business lacks a well-rounded strategy, then it leaves more room for mistakes and loopholes which can sometimes allow your previous ideals to slip through the net.
Every business needs a plan. But with markets becoming more saturated than ever, and the competition high, there's more pressure to establish a strategy that is high quality, well-thought-out, and bulletproof. This means developing your strategy to withstand any complications so that it can throw plan b's and plan c's straight in the face of anything that might disrupt operations or negatively affect your numbers. This could mean lots of head-scratching, tweaking, and refining.
Making sure that your strategy acknowledges both long-term and short-term goals is important too, as you can't reach the end goal without prioritising the smaller victories!
But you don’t need us to tell you that a business strategy is important. You might, however, want to read up on some handy advisories to bear in mind when constructing your strategy. Here are a few things you might want to consider when thinking, or rethinking business strategy.
Shape your goals (realistically)
Short-term goals are just as important as long-term goals. Essentially, your long-term goals are a compilation of the smaller ones.
Be realistic with your goals and make sure you’re being brutally honest with yourself - what is and isn’t achievable for you? Don’t bite off more than you can chew; you’re not going to land a blue-chip client in your first week of operating.
Stick to small, manageable goals to start out with, to prove to yourself what can be achieved in what timeframes. Then you can move on to working towards your larger goals over a longer timespan. Always be generous with the amount of time that you allocate to the business to complete its goals. Why? This lessens the pressure, gives you breathing time, and sets your business up for a well-deserved pat on the back when you complete your goals in good time.
Give yourself an idea of goal scale. For example:
- Short-term goals: Getting X number of reviews or testimonials, generating your first lead.
- Medium-term goals: Purchasing new assets which allow your team to do their job more effectively, or getting X amount of turnover in the first year.
- Longer-term goals: Expanding your premises to better suit your expanding operation, growing your team to accommodate a broader range of skillsets, making X amount in the first 5 years.
Do your homework
Make sure you know your market, your competitors, and the numbers. The more research to undertake, the more you'll understand how your business differs from other similar businesses - and you can really grasp your competitive edge.
Write up a mission statement
Your mission statement is the 'why?' of your strategy. Mission statements are supposed to outline exactly what your business aims to do, with the key aspects of your goals acknowledged.
This must also outline your ethos and values – establishing who you are, what you’re all about, and why you're doing it.
Make sure your team are on the same page
It’s great to have a strategy. But what’s the point in a strategy if you’re the only one who’s read your plan? Get your team involved, make sure everyone is on the same page, and that way the operations of the business will run smoothly, because sharing your knowledge and ideas is always advantageous. Not only this, but it will help everyone feel included; after all, you and your team are all working towards one unified mission.
Get some KPIs embedded within your strategy. You need something in place that will help you realise exactly how well your business is doing because numbers don't always cut it. KPIs are a useful indication of your business’s continual success and can help you recognise the smaller accomplishments which assure you that your business is functioning as you expected it to. Anchoring KPIs which strategically align alongside your objectives is vital to ensure that they are easily measurable.
Rounding off your strategy might take some time. It’s important you realise this early on, and to exercise patience while you’re creating your strategy. If you're generating a strategy from the total beginning, then you need time to think tactically. Being fearless and bold is advantageous in business - but never underestimate the equal importance of sitting back, thinking about your strategy, and overall taking your time to compartmentalise your strategy into manageable segments.
Dedicating the time to creating and planning your business strategy is so valuable. It allows you to see the bigger picture through a sharp, focused lens - and not the rose-coloured glasses we wear when we have that initial 'lightbulb' moment.