It’s easy to overlook the importance of strategy for a business, especially when you’re a small business in your early days, dealing with problems that, compared with your size and resources, seem overwhelming. Strategy takes a back seat to tactics – individual plans for individual aims, day to day survival and growth rather than long term thinking. Even if you do set a strategy for your business in those early days, it’s easily outpaced by the speed of your development and if it’s not revisited it becomes a relic, at best not a useful part of your business and at worst it actively hampers you!
There’s never a bad time to review your strategy to make sure it’s working for you and make some changes – or set one for the first time and today we’re taking a look at this key issue.
What Do You Want?
The key purpose of a strategy document is to crystallise how you’re going to achieve what you want from your business at a high level. It’s not a single plan to get more customers through the door with new adverts or save money on your fulfilment process, it’s defining how important growth is to your success, or where those efficiency savings cross a red line and start impacting your service.
If you’re setting a strategy for your business, you need to think about what you want from it – not just success, because success comes in many forms, but what do you personally want your experience of running a business to be like? Do you want the breathless pace and relentless drive of start-up culture, or a slower and steadier more traditional business model – where you are more likely to maintain personal control in the long term?
If you’re rethinking your strategy you have to think about what’s changed since the last time you addressed this question. Have your ambitions changed? Have your needs and capabilities altered? A strategy set when you were single and single mindedly devoted may not be relevant if you have a partner and young family.
Your Trading Circumstances
Strategies depend on the circumstances you’re trading in. Many if not most industries are currently experiencing financial pressure due to inflation and the rising cost of living. In such circumstances, efficiency and securing customers from competitors are more important to your strategy than in times when there’s plenty of revenue to go round. Think about the forces affecting your customers and market, and how they’ve changed too since the last time you set your strategy.
These are complex questions to find answers to, and may require specialist skills that are outside your remit as a small business owner. In that case, you may want to look into the strategy consulting firms London has to offer for an increasingly diverse audience. If you do your research you should be able to find a choice of experts offering advice to fit your industry and level.