Think D Associate, Martin Kelly is someone who knows a thing or two about helping businesses achieve their visions.
In his latest blog post he discusses the topic of strategy and provides a brief overview of why and how to do it and the importance it can have on creating a successful business.
Why do we need a strategy?
Strategy provides the building blocks we need to direct our actions towards our company Vision.
- It helps us to define our business direction and give it purpose
- It provides clarity to all involved stakeholders
- It helps us to understand what success could look like
Strategy is the blueprint we need to navigate our business. It should provide a clear vision and direction of travel with key milestones identified.
It's all in our heads!
Most of the business owners that I've met, can describe their company vision and explain the key actions required to achieve it. More often than not however, the vision isn't documented and this seems to be a common theme amongst smaller businesses where typically the owner/manager mentally holds the information. Also, I have worked with many business leaders who think they have communicated their strategy to their teams however messages can be misconstrued if this relies on one or few people.
Not communicating your vision or strategy can be risky and can cause unrest across the business. Why would you get on the bus if you didn't know the destination? By documenting your thoughts clearly and communicating well with your employees, it gives them more confidence in what it is they're trying to achieve and makes them more accountable to work towards shared goals.
What does success look like?
As your business grows and you get busier, it can often feel like you don't have the time to plan and this is usually sacrificed over day to day operational duties. Business planning (strategy development) needs to built in to that day to day action time and even if its developed in bitesize chunks, at least it has a dedicated place in the working week where you can spend time ON the business and not simply IN the business.
Successful business owners understand their values and their business purpose, especially through the lens of the customer. They have clear objectives which include financial targets, and they have action plans with timescales and accountabilities to help them achieve these.
They understand risk and what the key pitfalls might look like. They understand how they stand out from the crowd and what makes their product, service or brand different from the rest. It's this differentiator that can provide competitive advantage and what captures value for the customer.
Creating a strategy is not difficult but it does take a little time and focus to get right. And that's not easy when you're busy running a business. After all, when urgent meets important, urgent usually wins.
When you make time to develop your plans, think about who you need in the room to support you. Is it just you if you're a micro company? Do you have a senior leader team? Who do you need involved from different areas of the business depending on the strategy you're trying to create? Having the right team involved from the start is helpful and can share the workload and creativity.
It can also be really useful to do a business review of where you're currently at. This gives you a platform to start in figuring out where it is you want to go and more importantly, how you're going to get there! Some other things to consider are listed here below but remember, you need to make this personal to your own business, so be creative with this.
- Aspirations - why are you doing what you're doing?
- What is your business culture – how do you currently operate?
- Business review or audit – where are you now? What works? What doesn't?
- Business Purpose – what business are you really in?
- Business Vision – Where are you trying to get to?
- Market opportunities and risks – what are the quick wins? What will take longer? How do you prioritise these? What are the risks? How can you mitigate these?
- Self-Reflection – what are you great at? What can you improve? Where do you have vulnerabilities? What lessons can you learn from the past?
- How are you structured? – do your current systems and processes fit the new strategy? What about the current team? Are there any gaps?
- Implementation – Who, how, when? What does the Action Plan look like?
- Measuring success – what parameters to you need to put in place to measure? What KPIs can you use? How often do you monitor and review?
Visualising your strategy is a great way to share with colleagues. Think about how you communicate your vision with your teams. Can you do it in a way where its visible in the business? Your strategy should be transparent where everyone can see what the plan is. That way people can come on the journey with you and share those aspirations and goals. Use your newly formed strategy to guide you to success!
At Think D, we can help you to put your business strategy on paper by working with you and your team to tease out collective vision and values. We can help you identify your goals and develop robust action plans with accountability and timescales to make them achievable. We can help you build a strategy to grow your business and, more importantly to implement it.