Your business strategy is your future. It’s what you want your business to become as it grows. So it makes sense that you want to do it right.
When planning strategy in any form, it’s important to work as a group. Everyone brings their own experience to the table, and could see things that you’d never have thought of. Include your Board or even some senior employees when you plan.
Planning meetings are important to your business’s success, so take the time to prepare and do them right. It’s easy to get distracted and over-analyse out of step with your process. You may find that having someone chair the meeting who doesn’t get involved in the strategy is a good idea.
With these 3 tips, you can create a strategy that works for your business and help make scaling up a winning success.
Understand your business
The first step to writing a business strategy is understanding where you already are. This gives you the baseline to build your strategy from. A classic for a reason, SWOT is a great tool you can use to build this understanding.
SWOT breaks down your business, and its place in your market, into 4 areas. The first 2 are internal to your business. The second 2 focus on external factors.
- Strengths – what is it your business does well?
- Weakness – what is it your business doesn’t do so well?
- Opportunities – what opportunities does your market/industry afford you that you could seize?
- Threats – what threats are posed by your market/industry that could become a problem for your business?
Although it doesn’t immediately generate an obvious strategy, SWOT helps you understand what changes you might need to make and what options are out there for you.
Remember that many things can be both an opportunity and a threat. It’s fine to put something in both boxes, but make sure to include a little more detail as to why it’s a threat or an opportunity so that it’s easier to come back to.
Business Strategy in a crisis
Knowing how you’ll handle a crisis that may affect your business is an important tool in your strategy arsenal. Crisis Analysis is an exercise in considering the resilience of your business, and how you can improve it. Although you will end up with plans to face a set of specific problems, the ideas you come up with will serve you so much more.
As a group, suggest things that could happen in the future that would negatively affect your business. Don’t think too much at this point about the suggestions, just get them all out there.
Analyse your crisis
Work down from the whole world to your business, and consider what effect that crisis could have. Creating this larger picture helps you build a web of consequences that may show you impacts you’d never have predicted.
If there’s a problem with a major trade route, for example, you not getting your products out may be an obvious problem. However, it’s possible that your suppliers can’t get materials in anymore, so you also develop a supply chain issue.
Plan your response
Once you know what impact a crisis can have, you can discuss how to face it. This includes planning how to react to the crisis, but even more importantly it’s about how to mitigate it.
The risks that come from a crisis can show you where your business is vulnerable. Working on shoring up these vulnerabilities will make your business more resilient and possibly offer opportunities to grow. You can never catch everything, but this way you can be far better prepared.
What’s your mission?
When planning your strategy, it’s important to understand where you want to go. This doesn’t mean a general statement like grow or increase profits. Strategic growth planning works on hard targets.
MOST Analysis is a powerful tool when deciding where your strategy should take you. It takes you through the planning process in 4 steps.
- Mission – this is where you want to be. Be specific here, like grow 15% by the end of the year.
- Objectives – these tasks need to be achieved for you to succeed in your mission. E.g. reach more customers, cut down waste.
- Strategies – simply put, these are the options available for you to meet your objectives. If you want to reach more customers, what could you do?
- Tactics – these are actionable tasks that people will need to do as part of each strategy. People should leave the meeting with the tactics owned and a time to complete them in.
Make sure everyone’s involved in the process. Few things can truly be achieved by the actions of one department alone. Again, you can’t be an expert on everything, so make use of those that you have.
You may be able to see how these tips could be worked together into a single process.
SWOT can tell you what you have that you can capitalise on, as well as what you need to work on. Crisis assessment can take the threats you suggested in SWOT and expand them out. MOST can use the information from the other two to help you understand important objectives you need to achieve, and suggest strategies to try.
Keep notes on everything you do, and they’ll always be there to come back to. If you find that a strategy you try isn’t working out as you thought, your MOST notes will offer a list of other options to try next without going back to the drawing board.
Getting support with your business strategy can be incredibly helpful. It’s important to focus on your process and stay on track. Having someone experienced in developing strategy on hand can make all the difference to whether a meeting is effective or not.
A Strategy Director could be what your business needs to create its winning business strategy. They can be the one to chair your meeting, keep things running smoothly, and help monitor its implementation.
Boardroom Advisors provides a range of part-time director-level support for scale-ups and SMEs. This includes Strategy Directors with flexible contracts to suit your workload and budget. Contact us and talk to one of our Regional Advisors to see how we can help.
John Courtney is Founder and Chief Executive of BoardroomAdvisors.co which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/
John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40 year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK Entrepreneurs.