Progress Always Starts by Asking Questions
- Is our business moving in the right direction?
- Are we taking advantage of important trends within our industry?
- Revenues just aren’t where they should be.
- Internal operations are bogging us down and slowing our growth.
- Do we have the right people, policies and systems in place to take our business to the next level?
- Is everyone working together to achieve the same goals?
- We’re losing market share to new competitors that didn’t even exist two years ago. What can we do?
- I want to sell my company in a few years. How can I maximize the value of my firm?
If any of these apply to you, perhaps it’s time to rethink your business strategy.
Develop a Winning Business Strategy
- Base the plan on facts — not fantasies, rosy assumptions, or groupthink. Accurate, detailed, current market research is an essential input to any strategic plan.
- Consider a wide range of alternatives, even if some at first seem too far-fetched, or come from unexpected sources.
- Build alignment and buy-in with managers, staff and stakeholders through effective communication, management and monitoring.
- Set goals that are specific in time and extent. For example, achieve a 15% market share in Europe within 18 months.
Scope of Business
Before you embark on an involved strategic planning initiative, be sure you define the scope of the plan.
Is it specific to one organizational unit, customer segment or line of business? Does the plan focus on internal issues, external issues, or both? For example, staff compensation, coordination between marketing and sales, or quality control and production efficiency are all internal, whereas product pricing, supply chain management, marketing and distribution channles would typically be considered external.
Everyone knows what goals, are, but are your goals SMART?
SMART goals are specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, and time-based. If your goals are too conservative, you’re “leaving money on the table” by setting your sights too low. On the other hand, if your goals are wildly unrealistic, you’re unlikely to achieve them, which usually leads to frustration and disappointment. Setting SMART goals that inspire and excite is at least as much art as it is science.
While growing the business is usually one of the goals, it is rarely the only one. Most business also need to work hard to differentiate themselves, focus on what really matters, and realign their internal and external resources so everybody is rowing in the same direction.
Since every organizations fits within an ecosystem of other organizations, positioning is an essential component of every strategic plan.
Your positioning is simply where you fit in relative to everybody else in the market. For example, are you faster? better? cheaper? Establishing the right positioning is critical to success.
Execution is the same as implementation.
Are you going to actually follow through on the plan, or is it just an expensive paperweight? Most organizations underestimate how much money, time, and resources (staff, consultants, partners, vendors, equipment, etc.) they will need to execute their strategy.
Avoid These Common Strategic Planning Mistakes
First of all, accept the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect strategy, or a perfect strategic planning process. No matter what you do or how you do it, it can probably be improved. That said, a half-baked strategy can sometimes be worse than nothing. Every organization is occasionally tempted to cut back on research and planning when times are tough. But those are exactly the times when having realistic goals and a sensible plan is most important. The best business leaders always keep on top of what’s going on in and outside their organization, and are always thinking ahead.
Common strategic planning mistakes include:
- Basing your strategy on incorrect market research
- Ignoring important stakeholders because you “don’t think they are relevant”
- Only considering a few fairly obvious strategic options
- Basing your strategy on outdated or faulty assumptions
- Underestimating the time, resources, and financial investment needed to execute the strategic plan
- Underfunding the implementation phase in order to meet short term sales, profit or revenue goals
- Failing to adjust the plan when market conditions or other factors change
Our business consultants avoid these common mistakes.
Strategic Consulting Engagement Options
A full-fledged strategic plan usually takes a few months to develop. The point is you have to follow a process, and skipping steps almost always leads to sub-par results. You need to allow ample time for research, brainstorming, analysis and documentation. Of course, we can work on a tighter budget by collapsing the process down to several one- or two-day workshops, combined with research beforehand and analysis and documentation afterwards. But keep in mind that “tight budget” and “quick” rarely translate into “high quality”.
Far too many companies invest in strategic planning and then end up putting their plans on a shelf — literally. The reality is that a strategic plan is useless if you can’t execute. For that reason, we don’t like to stop at planning. Successful execution takes time, commitment, and focus. We can help you execute the strategy, provide you with additional resources to translate your plan into action, and generate results.
We never over-promise, but we always deliver.
- Our business strategy services are ideal for established small businesses with annual revenues of $500,000 or more.
- The idea is to combine winning strategy and dramatically improved execution to accelerate the growth of your business.
- We skip the gimmicks, and instead focus on business fundamentals — the key factors that drive business value.
- You will work closely with a senior advisor who understands you and your business.
- Growing a successful, sustainable business isn’t just about planning. It’s also about execution. Common obstacles to growth are people, technology, and processes. We have experience with all three — getting the right people in place, while using the right technology to execute efficient and effective processes.
Additional Resources on Business Strategy
Many small business owners end up so involved in their business that they never think about how to profitably exit it. The end result is that many of these business owners either shut the business down, or sell it for pennies on the dollar, leaving a large amount of money on the table. A better approach is to actually develop a plan for exiting the business.
Contact Us now to set up a free initial consultation. Or call to schedule a meeting at our office located in downtown Chicago at 150 N. Michigan avenue.