It’s an all-too-common scenario. You’re the excited new owner of a small business, with vivid ideas of what your business will mean for you down the track. You’ll be your own boss, have the work/life balance you always wanted and be doing something you really love.
But you’ve forgotten one crucial element: a documented strategy that explains HOW your business will achieve your ambitious goals amidst fierce competition and a constantly changing commercial landscape.
It’s hardly ever good enough for you to simply be proficient at what you do and expect the business to survive. Instead, you need to think carefully about what you can do to ensure that it is a success.
What is a business strategy?
Once you’ve determined why you’ll be getting out of bed each day to run this business and what you want it to look like in the future, you’ll need to know how you are going to reach that goal; this is your strategy.
Traditional approaches to business strategy include either:
- differentiating yourself from your competitors, or
- being able to produce or sell your products at a lower price.
But these days, you’re probably kidding yourself if you think you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. You may think you’re better than the rest (better service, better quality, better value, more caring, better relationships, more reliable, etc.) but your competitors believe the same thing, so what is a customer left to think?
What makes a good strategy?
Here are some of our tips for creating a strong strategy, which we discuss in more detail in our Eagle Financial Business Mentor Club.
Trying to demonstrate that you’re better than your competition is nearly impossible but there is an alternative, known as positioning. Positioning is essentially taking a unique marketing position by narrowing your focus to a specific industry, client type, demographic or service offering. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, you’ll aim to provide exceptional value to a very specific type of customer.
Positioning helps your business because:
- you’ll be able to clearly identify who you want to work with and tailor your message to resonate with that person
- the deeper you go, the more knowledge you’ll have of who your customers are, how they think and how you can help them get what they need.
A common example of this is a specialist doctor. If you have a scary health condition, you’ll no doubt pay significantly more to see someone who is an expert on that exact problem, rather than going to a regular GP. That specialist treats only a narrow range of people, but he or she is very valuable to those patients.
Alignment and capacity
Your business will never grow if it always revolves around you. At some stage you’ll need to attract and retain quality staff to grow your capacity to deliver – and these people become the most valuable resource of any successful business. So, how are you going to build this resource?
In the modern workplace you can no longer hope for staff to stay loyal and give you the best years of their lives unless you really give them clear reasons to. There’s a lot to consider here, from remuneration and incentives to development opportunities and workplace culture.
We believe it’s fundamental to any business strategy to determine how you will attract and retain the best people.
Here’s the most important thing
Developing and documenting your strategies based on the points we’ve mentioned will stand you in good stead.
But your strategy won’t be worth a dime if you don’t execute it.
Knowing what you should be doing is easy, but execution is hard. It separates those who succeed from those who fail or (even worse) those who hang in there year after year without any real progress.
The reality is, most of your competitors won’t:
- invest in their business adequately
- do the hard things well
- execute relentlessly.
And that is your opportunity.
If you would like guidance and support on how to not only nail the big-picture strategy for your business but also execute it persistently, get in touch – you may be a candidate for our Business Mentor Club.