The 4-by-4 Business Strategy Guide to Help You Start Well And Grow Better
Has the thought ever crossed your mind that you need to do something different to get your business on a better track? Perhaps someone walked into your business where you can just read their face that says, “this person needs to get their act together…” Perhaps you even know that you need to get your act together for your business, but you really don’t know where to start. If you find yourself in this situation, or you simply want to get your business on a great track, then you need a business strategy.
A business strategy is a distinctive direction with a unique aspect that helps grow your business. It is the big picture of your business, and possibly the essence of your identity; that is, for what you are known for. And once your customers are thinking and talking about your business then you know that you have a successful strategy.
The whole purpose of a business strategy is to create business growth. Small business marketing strategies are not always easy to figure out, but once you do you will usually find that they will carry your business for many years with a bit of nurturing. Getting to this point is where the work lies, so let’s embark on a few ideas to help build your business strategy, starting with four key strategy elements.
1. Product Strategy
The first is your selection of products or services that you offer. You are going to get into business, or you have already started your business, because you saw a need in your local or regional market. This need can be met by your choice of products or the services that you offer. How you choose which products to make or resell, or how you deliver the services you have to offer can be based on quality, price, functionality, and perhaps other factors. The combination of product or service characteristics is called a product strategy. For example, if you decide that you want to sell low-cost products, your product strategy would price to value. On the other hand, if you decide that you are a fancy restaurant then your product strategy is high-quality, in a formal setting.
So, how would you describe your product strategy?
2. Go-to-Market Strategy
The second is the way in which you bring your products or services to your customers, so that they can become aware, to learn about them, and to engage in business with you. This is called your go-to-market strategy. There are a number of ways for you to engage with your customers. You could have a physical retail building where your customers simply drive by, or walk by to your business and when they see you they come in to do business with you. If this is your go-to-market strategy then you are highly dependent upon the location of your business to attract street and foot traffic, and how inviting your business facility looks to customers.
On the other hand, you could draw customers to your business using marketing and sales communication. This could include publishing your product or service information on social channels, using advertising, or acquiring email or mailing lists. You could be even more strategic by profiling the ideal customer for your business and then develop messaging, promotions, and incentives that that profile would desire.
So, how would you describe your go-to-market strategy?
3. Organizational Strategy
The third is the structure in which you have organized your business and your staff. When you create categories for your business you can then determine how you need to staff it. This is your organizational strategy. For example, a restaurant can be fairly simple. Perhaps you have a bar, kitchen, and restaurant area of your business, so in this way you would organize your staff with a bartender, a cook, and waiters with support staff. On the other hand if you are a retail business, then perhaps you would organize your store by departments and staff accordingly. Businesses that are not retail who do back office services could organize staff by pre-sales and post-sales; a pre-sales team is focused on getting new clients and the post-sales team is focused on preparing tax forms.
So, how would you describe the way your business is organized?
4. Operational Strategy
The last is the processes that you have set up in your business. Business owners often underestimate the importance of process. Process is what you do as you interact with your customers, when selling products but especially with service businesses. This is called your operational strategy. For example, if you are a restaurant or a quick serve, there are many processes that customers go through from the time they enter your business to the time they leave. Meeting customer expectations with your processes is what gives a good experience. Processes also are critical for non-retail businesses in the same way.
So, how would you describe each of your key processes in your business?
If you have some ideas how you might describe your business then you may be ready to create a business strategy. Business strategy consulting often uses a process to help businesses build a plan. In order to build a plan most consultants will ask you to make decisions in the following four areas, usually in the order listed:
List your goals for a defined period of time. Each goal must have a number. Goals are what success looks like as you envision your business over a time period. It is especially important to set a goal that stretches your business from where you are currently at. The goals could be over one month, year, or multiple years, and you might have multiple goals for each period. For example, you can set a goal to serve 3,000 customers at your restaurant in the next 3 months, or, to get 100 new customers contracted in the next 3 months. Often 2 or 3 goals can be enough to clearly define what success looks like for you.
List the things that need to happen in order to achieve your goals. These could be big things such as rearranging your store, upgrading equipment, replacing or hiring more staff, and so on. Some objectives could be full projects; others may be just a set of tasks. Usually, a business strategy lists 3 to 8 key objectives that are “must do’s” in order to achieve the goals.
Your business strategy then needs to include the answers to the four elements listed above. But as you think about each of your strategies, think about what is unique about your business. You don’t have to be the only business or the best business to be successful in your industry, but you should have something about your business that is unique.
Now you are ready to specify your detailed project list to get things done. This may be the largest part of your business strategy plan. Remember to include all the details, assignments, and timelines for activities that ultimately contribute toward your strategy. As you execute on these tactics, you can use your business strategy as a guide to help ensure that you are staying on track to achieve your goals. Or, you can modify your strategy if necessary, and then your tactics can also be adjusted. You now have a complete map to success.
So now you know what it takes to build a business strategy plan toward achieving success. Underlying all this, of course, is the true grit of discipline, process execution, and treating staff with respect to keep everyone motivated. Adding these people-ingredients along with a great business strategy, your business should flourish for years to come.