Strategy. A word that sends some people running because they don’t really understand what it is or know how to do it well. But it is just about choices: the choices you make and how to make good choices. So, how do you make good choices? First, you need to ask the right questions.
When developing a strategy for your business, whether the first time as you launch your business or part of an annual regular review, there are some key steps to guide you on a successful strategic journey.
1. Getting Ready:
Answer these key questions before you develop your strategy.
• What do you really want to do?
• Are assumptions you have made still valid?
• What is happening:
• In your market? Your industry? The economy?
• With your customers? What have they asked for?
• With your competition? How do you want to compare to them?
• Your strategic partners (retailers, distribution channels, etc.)?
• What are your growth goals?
• What are your SWOT’s: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats?
• What have you tried and learned from, whether success or failure?
• What is no one else doing?
2. Building a Strategic Plan: Roger Martin’s “Five Key Choices to Make as an Entrepreneur”:
Using the information gathered, structure your thinking around the five choices below. Start at the top and go down the list of questions, answering based on what you want. Then start at the bottom and answer the same questions going up based on what you currently have. If there are gaps, you need to make strategic choices to remove them. Do you change your aspiration or your where to play? Do you build new capabilities or systems? It helps define your action plan.
• Winning Aspiration: What do you want to accomplish?
• Where to Play: Who is your ideal client, what is your value proposition, are there unique opportunities?
• How to Win: How do you sell what you described: distribution, pricing, marketing strategy?
• Capabilities: What business and technical expertise/skills do you need to deliver this?
• Management Systems: What is needed in terms of systems, processes, culture?
3. How to Develop a “Good” Strategy?
• Look at both long and short term.
• Be proactive, not reactive.
• Conduct scenario building: if this, then what? if that, then what? to make choices and build contingency plans.
• You are never “done”. It needs to be flexible when significant change occurs, or something really is not working. Balance between changing too quickly (shiny object syndrome) and not changing quickly enough in times of urgent need.
• Use input from employees, stakeholders, clients, vendors, etc.
• Develop metrics, track them and revise your strategy as needed.
For companies of more than one employee:
• The person who knows the most about an issue should make the choice. It might not be the CEO/business owner.
• Explain your choices and reasons to your organization.
• Be clear on what choices others need to make.
If you want help developing the strategy for your business or career, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary coaching call.