Business strategy…what is it, really!? And, is my small business even big enough to warrant a strategy?
These are only a few of the questions that arise during a meeting between a business owner and his or her business strategist.
Most businesses — large and small — struggle with strategy. What is it? How is one created? Who’s involved? And, finally, what’s the big deal…especially when you’ve survived for several years without one.
It’s not the kind of work most of us care to do. It’s hard! We have to dig deep and do our homework to come up with the right strategy that grows our business and survives the test of time. Frankly, we all just want to open the doors, turn on the lights, fire up the computer, and let the phones ring.
Ahh, if it were only that easy.
Business Strategy: Why it Matters
We belong to a global business community. As a result, we experience greater competitiveness than we did five years ago. In light of this heightened competition, business demands a clearly defined strategy for how we’re going to achieve our business objectives given the opposition. It’s a continuation of the hard work you did in nailing your business mission and vision.
Since we can’t be everything to everyone, a business strategy lets your buyer know of your unique and distinctive advantage. Plus, once your strategy is clear, decisions regarding direction, resource allocation, and high-value work take you in the direction you intend to go.
Common Business Strategy Pitfalls to Avoid
As a business strategist, I’m in an interesting position. I have a front row seat to that which causes a business to flourish…as well as those elements that create roadblocks and sluggish growth
Based on my observations, here are my recommendations of what to avoid when it comes to your strategy:
1) Avoid confusing strategies with tactics. Interchanging the terms strategies and tactics has become a phenom over the past few years.
Strategy defines a series of patterns or moves to accomplish your business’ mission and vision. Your strategy answers the question, “What will achieve our mission?” Its focus is on the bigger picture.
Tactics, on the other hand, consist of smaller steps or activities needed to fulfill the strategy. Tactics answer the question, “How will we achieve our goals?” Their focus is short-term and they flex as needed to keep your business moving in the right direction.
2) Avoid growing your business without a strategy. Not sure of which direction to go in? No problem. Let your well-thought-out strategy guide you. It aligns with your mission and vision to ensure your long-term objectives are achieved.
3) Avoid having a strategy yet not referencing it. Eek! If you’re a corporate refugee, you understand what I mean. Don’t spend valuable resources to design the perfect strategy only to use it as a doorstop. Commit it to memory. Let it guide your decision-making.
4) Avoid being too rigid by hanging on to your strategy long past its usefulness. Think Motorola who quickly lost its competitive edge — and ultimately had to close the doors — because it failed in its ability to scan the competitive landscape and update its strategies to reflect the current times.
Evaluate your strategies on a regular basis to ensure it continues to create the competing lead needed to achieve your goals
5) Avoid hidden biases. Be aware of assumptions that may be influencing your objectivity in creating the business strategies that will grow your business. Seeking evidence to support your beliefs about what you think your strategy should be is counterproductive. Remain vigilant and objective.
Formulating your business strategy may not be the easiest piece of business development but it’s certainly one of the most important.