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What is a business strategy and how do you write one?

January 8, 2017

So I’m laying it out there, this is going to be easy.  Don’t worry, strategy is basically a fancy word for a plan that helps you achieve your goals.  Like a very top-level action plan.  Think of it a bit like a game of monopoly.  


The best strategies are succinct, well thought through but most importantly are actioned.  87% of strategies fail because they are not actioned so I can tell you how to write a good strategy but it’s not going to be great until it’s in play - that is something you will need to do on your own for now!  Is your strategy to buy up all the stations, all the cheap properties or hold out for the park lanes of this world?

  1. Where do you want the business to be in the future? (Also known as The Vision) - Think about the next 3-5 years. It should be bold, the “what” and the “why” for everything you do.  It could be an ambitious, measurable, time-delimited goal, or a short description of the disruptive innovation you intend to create or an honest answer to the question: “What do you want?”

  2. What makes your company so great? (The Mission) Hopefully what you are doing now is something that you and your team are proud of.  How do you approach your customer care or your operational planning, what makes you different?

    It’s not just a case of what features of your product or service are different to others, it’s bigger than that.It’s how your whole experience stands out compared to others.

  3. What do you as a business believe?  (Values) Is your team the most important thing for you?  Do you believe in always being the cheapest for your customers?  How important is transparency when working with your suppliers?  What is important to you - think of it like your morals or 10 commandments.  

  4. What are you good and bad at?  (Use SWOT analysis to help create strategic themes) Where are there opportunities and threats? By looking internally at your business but also looking externally at the environment around you, build a picture of your world. 

    Another approach is to look at your top projects, what projects were the most profitable, most fun, most rewarding in terms of future business.  You can decide the criteria, we are then going to work out what is working for you so you can do more of the work you want to do.

Write a list of your top 10 projects and then answer the following questions for each project. 

  1. How did this client learn about your firm?

  2. Why were you hired? What other reasons did they hire you?

  3. Type of project by service?

  4. Type of client by vertical market (biotech or tourism for example)?

  5. What time of year were you hired?

  6. Any professional affiliations of the key decision makers?

  7. Gender and age of the key decision makers?

You’ve then got to look for patterns.  These patterns in your successes can help you plan your strategy, as can the patterns in any failures.  Try repeating the process for your worst 10 projects or 10 projects that you’ve lost.  Whilst environments change and these patterns need to bear that in mind, there will be some evidence that can at least start your thinking. 


5. What goals do you want to achieve? 

(Still called Goals in technical language!) Long-term goals are three to five statements that drill down and help you get to where you want your business to be in the next 3-5 years.  This should also include your objectives and tasks, details around long, medium and short-term plans.  


There is something called the 3Cs.  They stand for Consumers, Channels and Competitors.  The idea being that we now know we want to target these consumers; therefore we need to be strong in these channels and steal share from those competitors. Break your goals down to these channels, cross-checking that by achieving one, it’s not alienating something else - that they all work harmoniously together. 


And lastly, how are you going to know you’ve succeeded?  How will you measure success?  You’re writing a strategy for a reason, to grow and develop.  How are you going to know when you can crack open that champagne?!


Still all sounding a little confusing and you are struggling starting?  Drop us a line if you want support on your business strategy and how to ensure you have a sustainable future planned?



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