Our strategy consulting services are designed to fit the needs of established small businesses and non-profits. We work with organizations at almost every stage of the business life-cycle. Most of our clients have annual revenue between $1 million and $10 million, but this is not an absolute requirement. We help our clients define a clear vision, develop a roadmap, and then work closely with them to help achieve their goals. Although we are based in Chicago, we can work with clients anywhere.
If you are looking for help planning an exit from your business, check out our exit planning services.
Is your business moving in the right direction?
Sometimes it’s hard for business owners to tell. They see the trees, but not the forest. We’ll help you see the big picture while keeping an eye on the details, then guide you toward a better place.
Are you taking advantage of important trends within your industry?
Every industry has to deal with change. And the pace of change accelerates every year as new technologies, competitors, and products appear. We’ll help you sort through the noise, identify the most important trends, and help you gain and hold competitive advantage.
What’s holding you back?
Every small business owner faces obstacles to growth. Some are external (market trends, competitors, regulations, etc.), and others are internal (people, policies, processes). We’ll help you determine what factors are holding you back, devise effective solutions, and implement them.
To be successful at strategic planning 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. Our comprehensive strategic planning process typically takes about three months.
Many business strategy consultants engage in a series of one or two day workshops with senior management teams. They put on a great show, and everybody feels happy and energized when it’s all done. But after the excitement wears off, nothing really changes. All the great ideas go nowhere because there really wasn’t any real buy-in and there is no follow-through.
Other strategy consulting firms bring in a team of subject matter experts, who conduct endless interviews, spend months contemplating their navels, and then write up a beautiful 200 page strategic plan document which promptly ends up on a shelf gathering dust. Once again, nothing really changes. Several years later, the company hires another firm and repeats the cycle.
Our approach is a bit different. Workshops are useful, but unless they are backed up with solid research and in-depth interviews, they don’t go far enough. Interviews, research and analysis are absolutely necessary, but if the end result is a massive tome with endless recommendations, unclear priorities and no follow-through, nothing changes. After years of experimentation, we finally hit on a better way: a heavy emphasis on research, one on one interviews and analysis, workshops (only as needed), clear, concise documentation with a limited number of high priority recommendations, all combined with ongoing support and monitoring.
Avoid These Common Strategic Planning Mistakes
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 stay 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 invalid or incomplete 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
- Setting goals that are non-specific in time and extent
- Underestimating the time, resources, and financial investment needed to execute the strategic plan
- Failing to align managers, staff and stakeholders through effective communication, management and monitoring.
- Under-funding the execution phase in order to meet short term sales, profit or revenue goals
- Failing to adjust the plan when market conditions or other factors change
Execution Is Key to Getting Results
Are you going to actually follow through on the plan, or will it just become an expensive paperweight? 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 additional resources to translate your plan into action, and generate results.
Contact Us now to unlock the potential in your business. Or call to schedule a meeting at our downtown Chicago office located at 150 N. Michigan Avenue.