For most businesses, we are just over mid-way through another year, and for a few of you possibly approaching a September or October year end. For those of you who actively monitor your results against your plans, congratulations! If you haven’t already done so, it should be time to assess your progress against your goals. During my career as a CFO, we regularly met as a team, usually quarterly to discuss the business strategy decided upon in the pre-year planning sessions, review whether results were measuring up to expectations and decide to stay the course or make adjustments based on progress and new developments. Strategy does not have to be “cast in stone”, rather it’s a process about choosing to follow a path and act out a certain way to drive your company forward. The beauty of reflecting on and measuring your progress is that you can choose to alter the course.
I recently came across an article on Business Strategy, which I shared through my social media links. I found it simple enough, yet structured in a way that puts some method and thought to the Strategy process without being overly complex. I’d like to share some key thoughts from that article for your consideration when thinking about how you want to compete in your world of business.
- Be Unique – This concept struck home with me when I was engaged in running a start up software company. When competing against the “big” guys, what can you do or what is truly different in a way that adds value to your product/service or delivery that compels your customer to strongly consider you…this is also commonly referred to as your “value proposition”. If asked, you should be able to articulate concisely the “who, what, how and why” of your business. The nature or type of your company doesn’t matter, what matters is thinking about how your customers perceive you and what you have or can develop that sets you apart from your competition. Strive to be different, not copy the biggest or best.
- Grow to be profitable, not for growth’s sake – Identifying which segments of your business yield the greatest potential to make a profit and developing plans to grow those segments can be the basis for your strategy. “Growing is not a strategy, it’s a consequence”.
- Know your Industry – This seems to be simple and intuitive, but unless you really understand your playing field, the customers and your competition, it’s tough to develop a strategy to act on and achieve the first 2 points above.
- A Choice of Who and How – In simple terms, this is about “focus”…a focus on who you will serve and how you intend to serve them. I have found that more often than not, businesses tend to want to be all things to everyone…that is their choice for growing the business. In reality, it’s impossible to do and consumes many more resources than anyone can afford and consequently the good, profitable parts of the business tend to suffer. Be true and honest with yourself and make solid decisions about narrowing your focus to be superior at what you do.
- Saying “No” often – If you think about the progression of the points articulated above, you can see how “saying no often” comes next in line. When you have clearly defined who your customer is and how you intend to uniquely set yourself apart to attract and serve the needs of this client, you develop of pattern of what you will and will not do. “In strategy, choosing what not to do is equally important” as choosing what to do.
- Adapt and change – As I said in my opening paragraph, deciding on a strategy means you chose a path and a course of actions to follow. It doesn’t mean that when customers wants and ideas change, you remain steadfast in your execution. Business strategy involves staying in touch with your industry and customer demands, thinking about the opportunities presented, the barriers to success and choosing to stay the course or alter it to remain relevant.
- “Scenario thinking is a critical strategy tool” – This step is really about taking in all that you learn from your ongoing assessment of your execution and reflecting on possible future outcomes. Developing and playing out various scenarios can help you determine possible courses of action. Having multiple options is a good thing…and bringing it back to the top, it can propel you to be unique.
Click on the following name to read the full article…Business Strategy: 7 Principals Every business Leader Should Know