Key Steps To A Successful Business Strategy

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article |Business Plan| Key Steps To A Successful Business StrategyBefore opening the doors to your new business, you need to make sure you have a plan of action and a set of goals in place. If you don’t have an end game in mind, you’re going to have a disorganized, chaotic mess of a business.

Write a Mission Statement

This sounds like a piece of cake, but this is instrumental to defining what your business is all about. It needs to be crafted in a way that is clear and conscise to the readers. This is your way of showing your customers what you are trying to achieve in this business. Your guiding values will be outlined to show how business decisions are being made. Without having this vision, your company will run the risk of becoming distracted and having the train steer off of the tracks.

Creating a Strategy Plan

As StrategyDriven discusses on their website, “Not only does a compelling, well executed strategy align individuals to a common purpose, it ensures that purpose best serves the company’s mission.” The key message in there is having a group of individuals all on the same page with a common purpose. Everyone knows the company’s goal. This company provides an array of online tools to help businesses develop a strategy plan and how to properly implement them.

Your company’s strategy plan can be written with long term expectations or short term expectations. This plan should identify the steps needed to achieve the company’s mission. It is probably in the best interest of the business to write short term expectations with such a fast, evolving world. Things change constantly, so it is important to plan for the short term to lead to longer term success.

Strategic Implementation

You have your strategy plan in place, so now what? It is time to carefully implement your strategic plan. This is where you define “how” the strategic plan will be implemented and “who” will be responsible for implementing it. It is key that people have clearly defined roles at this stage of the process.

In Essential Steps to a Successful Strategy Implementation Process, they identify the key basic activities needed to implement your strategy.

  • Establishment of annual objectives
  • Fomulation of polices for execution of strategies
  • Allocation of resources
  • Actual performance of tasks and activities
  • Leading and controlling the performance of activities or tactics in various levels of the organization

The entire team of staff members are needed for these activites to be successfully implemented. From senior management to the general management team, everyone needs to be on the same page to begin this implementation.

Allocation of Resources

Of course, it goes without saying that money is needed to begin any successful business. In your strategic plan, it is essential to determine the amount of resources that will be needed to follow through on your objectives. Money may need to be allocated for resources such as document scanning, computers, staff, and understanding if you financially will have enough time to see the implementation all the way through. The worst thing that can happen if that you run out of money before your business can really pick up any momentum. This is something that needs to be clearly defined and studied in your action plan.

Structuring Your Business

Establishing a clear cut chain of command is essential for your business. People need to know their responsibilities and who they are to report to. You don’t want to have your employees confused as to who is responsible for what. It also needs to be stated the importance of clear and open lines of communication. Everyone from the top to the bottom should feel comfortable speaking to someone about a problem or any questions they may have. This will help to facilitate the flow of your strategy plan.

Creating a Great Working Environment

One thing that seems to get overlooked when starting a new business is understanding the importance of establishing a strong work culture. You want your employees to enjoy coming to work every day and helping to positively spread the message of your company. A cohesive unit all working towards a common goal will lead to ultimate success. But, as a business owner, you should be establishing your business culture from day one. There should be incentives for employees as well as sanctions for any mistakes that happen. People should know what they are accountable for and feel comfortable to speak with anyone if they have any concerns. The cultural expectations should be followed by every member of the business.

Businesses should have programs in place to support employees. The proper training needs to be implemented from day one. There should be a training program for all new employees before ever starting the job. This is where you can clearly establish your policies and show off the culture that you’ve created in your business.

Employees and customers should also be able to comfortably provide feedback to help improve the organization. Knowing ahead of time that mistakes can happen and having plans in place to help fix the mistakes should also be established.

In Conclusion

Starting up a business is a huge endeavor. But, knowing the importance of having a full action plan in place before ever starting your business is the first step to success moving forward. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and ask for help from experienced companies that provide the business support that you need. It just makes perfect sense to communicate with companies that have found success and create a similar model to theirs. Utilize the many online business consulting firms available and create a business that others will consider to be a model business in the future.

Effective Strategies For Business Growth

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article|Business Growth|Effective Strategies For Business Growth As a business owner, you will always want to be making strides forward to help your company to grow and reach the next level. Knowing how to go about doing this can be challenging once you have found some initial success and it is here where businesses often plateau and find themselves treading water. It is crucial at this time to use positive momentum to keep pushing forward as this can have a significant impact on the success of the company. There are many effective strategies for growing a business in any industry so consider any of the following when you are ready to take the next step.

Increase Marketing Efforts

Marketing is vital to success and the more that you do, the more likely you are to boost sales. Increasing your marketing efforts can raise brand awareness, increase visibility online and drive more traffic to your company website. For the best results, it is worth using the services of a reliable internet marketing agency who will be able to provide services such as:

  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing

In addition to internet marketing, think about how more traditional forms could also be used to boost brand awareness. Many businesses also find it helpful to get involved with the local community by attending events, hosting their events, sponsorship, etc.

Market Research

Times change quickly in business which means that market research can quickly become outdated. Carrying out new market research will help a company to discover crucial new information about their target customer and the competition which could help them to identify gaps in the market and other ways to succeed.

It is crucial that you aim to keep a keen eye on the competition to determine their strengths and weaknesses and how you can use this information to your advantage.

Add To Your Range

Leading on from this, adding to your product/service range can be an effective strategy for attracting new customers and retaining loyal, existing ones. Consider any gaps in the market and problems that your target customer faces and find a way to solve these issues. This can breathe new life into the business and help you to target an entirely new group.

Form A Strategic Alliance

Similarly, teaming with a complementary company will help you to tap into an entirely new market. A strategic alliance works when two complementary companies who are not competitors strike up a professional relationship where one supports the other. This is often through recommending the brand to its customer base with potential discounts/deals for referrals.

The key to success with a strategic alliance is finding a suitable company as, in addition to not being a competitor, it must also be a brand that shares similar values to your own.

Invest In New Technology & Software

Technology is evolving at such a continuous, rapid rate that it often means that what you are currently using is out of date. Updating to new tech can be costly, but it could have a significant impact on your company by streamlining the operation, automating specific tasks, reducing errors and improving the quality of the end product or service.

Professional Development

No company can succeed without a talented, passionate and motivated workforce powering the operation. Therefore, investing in your workforce with professional development is a terrific way to grow your company from within. Employees will want to find ways to progress and to offer these opportunities internally can boost morale and promote employee loyalty. Listen to the wishes of your staff and consider training, seminars, and courses that will improve their abilities and enable them to excel in their role.

Global Expansion

One of the biggest and most exciting methods for growing a business is international expansion. This can be a complicated and expensive process but the potential for profits are gigantic, and it can be incredibly rewarding and glamorous to open up offices in a different country.

One of the major logistical issues with this approach is staffing, and you are likely to want a few team members to relocate overseas. Implementation in global mobility is a difficult process, but some businesses can handle this aspect for you. This way, you can focus on other areas; you can find more information here.

Improve Your Customer Service

One of the most overlooked (and under-invested) areas of business, yet one of the most important for success, is customer service. People like to use companies that they respect and trust, and it can be much easier to retain loyal, existing customers than to find brand new ones. Improving your customer service will help to keep customers, strengthen your brand reputation and you should also benefit from word-of-mouth marketing which remains incredibly effective.

Improving your customer service will involve going the extra mile for customers, solving issues quickly and letting customers know that they are valued. You can also encourage loyalty through the use of loyalty programs which will show that you care about your customer and appreciate their business.

Streamline The Operation

It can feel risky to make changes to how you operate when you are running a profitable business, but it is also one of the most effective methods to grow a business. Carefully assess every single process and work with relevant department heads to determine if it is necessary and if there is a way that could be improved – even a small change could have a significant impact on the efficiency of the operation.

This will often involve finding ways to reduce costs as this enables you to maximize profit. There are many ways to reduce business costs to consider, including switching to alternative energy, going paperless, renegotiating rates with vendors and encouraging remote working.

If you are ready and committed to taking the next step with your business, then consider any or all of the above. It is essential always to be moving forward in the business world as otherwise you will fall behind to the competition and struggle to succeed. Growth can be challenging, but it is also an exciting process which could help you to maximize profit and dominate the industry.

Strategy Driven – A Reality Check

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article | Strategic Planning | Strategy Driven – A Reality CheckMost modern organizations claim to be strategy-driven. But when you cut through the hyperbole, what do you find?

The Oxford dictionary defines strategy as “a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.” People tend to focus on the word “plan” in this sentence. We think about strategy as the highest-level, guiding plan for an organization, but if we want to objectively determine the strategy of an organization, this is where we’ll hit a problem.

A plan is an intention to do things in the future, but you can’t objectively study or observe an intention. An intention has no physical presence, we can only witness people talking about it. Walk into an organization and ask to see their strategy and you will likely be given a one-line “mission” statement and a document filled with words and diagrams. The document is real and can be observed. However, the intention that the document describes is not real. We should never confuse the two – having a physical document does not mean that you have a strategy.

But don’t give up hope yet! I cannot physically find gravity and yet I know that it is real because I can witness the impact of gravity on the real world. Newton observed a falling apple and was able to use this data to infer that gravity existed.

So what is the equivalent of Newton’s apple when it comes to strategy? Think about the dictionary definition. A strategy is a not just “a plan”, it is “a plan of action”. I cannot physically witness the plan, but I can certainly witness actions and use them to infer the strategy. If I walk into an organization and carefully examine the action, then I will be able to determine the strategy which is at play.

This might sound a bit backward. After all, the strategy is all about the big picture, about how we will conquer the world tomorrow, not about what is happening today. I disagree – the only way that you can witness a strategy is to carefully look at what is happening today and then infer the strategy from that data.

Let’s look at an example. Some years ago, I worked with a company that was on a sustained journey to improve safety in its operation. Their strategy document declared that “Safety comes first. There is nothing more important for us than the safety of our people and the community in which we operate.” As a strategy statement, it couldn’t be clearer. When I went looking for the action however, I found something different.

At their project portfolio meeting I found something interesting. As is frequently the case, this company had many more potential projects than it had budget. Because of this, the company had to choose which projects to progress and which projects to defer or cancel. Given their strategy of “safety comes first”, I should have witnessed that all the safety projects were approved first and then, only if there was remaining budget, would commercial projects be approved. What I witnessed instead was that a large number of safety projects had been deferred to make space for a more evenly balanced selection of commercial and safety projects. The individuals responsible for making these calls were under a great deal of stress.

“Safety first” was what we call the espoused strategy and it was clearly not real. By witnessing the company’s actions, we can see that the real strategy was to balance commercial and safety interests. They were very committed to their safety journey, but not in a way that put them out of business!

The most concerning thing that I observed was the stress placed on the decision makers. They were implementing the real strategy of the senior management. But they were then placed in a highly compromised position by the same senior management espousing a completely different “strategy”.

As a leader in your organization, I encourage you to constantly check that the actions in your organization match the strategy you espouse. Only then can you truly claim to be strategy-driven.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article | Strategic Planning | Strategy Driven – A Reality CheckGraeme Findlay is an Associate Fellow at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. He consults to industry as an executive coach and change management advisor. Prior to specializing in leadership development, Findlay held executive management roles and was accountable for delivering operational transformations and performance turnarounds on world-scale mega-projects. His passion for high performance teams led to academic research at Oxford University and HEC Paris. Findlay holds a Masters degree in Consulting and Coaching for Change. For more information, please visit www.graemefindlay.com

Free Business Plans for Small Business Owners and Start-ups

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Business PlanIt’s not the most exciting part of starting a business. In fact, if you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you’re probably going to find yourself pulling a few all-nighters to get one done before heading into your first pitch for funding. Because that’s the thing – your business plan is important.

Any funder worth his or her salt wants to see it right off the bat. Moreover though, a solid business plan is a living document that will continue to guide your efforts as your business grows.

A lot of those mistakes are the result of poor planning. Bad location, a marginal niche, having no specific user in mind, raising too much or too little money – all these issues can be prevented or at least mitigated with good planning.

Creating your business plan is more than just getting your ideas down on paper for potential funders to see. It’s an exploratory process in which you can evaluate your options, test your assumptions about your idea, and even discover new opportunities. It might even lead you to kill off aspects of your business before investing too much time or money in them.

That doesn’t mean you have to bust out Word and start the plan from scratch. A template is great–you probably aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before, so it provides a proven structure for your plan. Pretty much everything on it can be customized. Check out these comprehensive business plan templates you can download for free to get you started:

1. Score’s Business Plan Template for Startups

Score is an American nonprofit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground. Its template, available as a PDF or Word download, asks a whopping 150 questions and is generic enough to customize for most types of businesses. The Refining the Plan resource that comes with it is helpful, especially if this is your first crack at writing a business plan.

2. U.S. Small Business Administration Business Plan Engine

The SBA’s template is available to fill out online and then download as a PDF. You can go back in and edit it as needed, so don’t worry about having everything ready the first time you sit down to tackle it. Even broken into sections, it’s a long document and a bit of a slog to get through, but it produces a professional-looking and useful business plan. This is particularly helpful if your idea isn’t fully fleshed out and you know you have homework to do – it prompts you for information.

3. The $100 Startup’s One-Page Business Plan

Who said a business plan has to be a long, complicated document? Some funders are going to want to see a lot of detail, but you can provide that in appendices. The $100 Startup, the website for the best-selling book of the same name, has a ton of stripped-down resources for entrepreneurs, including a super simplified business plan template.

4. LawDepot’s WYSIWYG Business Plan Template

This one says you just have to answer a few simple questions and will be “done before you know it!” Don’t believe it. A business plan should take time and a lot of homework, but if you’ve already done that, LawDepot’s template is a decent choice. It walks you through getting started, marketing, product, competitive analysis, SWOT, and more, with a window below the input fields to show you the plan as you work away at it. You can download it free with a trial subscription, but you’ll have to remember to cancel it within the week if you don’t plan to continue using it.

5. SME Toolkit Business Plan Samples

The SME Toolkit, jointly offered by IFC and IBM, offers a simple two-page outline of what should be included in your business plan to meet the minimum requirements of funders and tax authorities (in the U.S.). It contains 10 broad sections, including market analysis, management and organization, etc., with a one-paragraph explanation of each. A second download on the same page is an Excel file to help with your financial projections.

6. Office Online Templates Galore

Of course, Microsoft offers a ton of business plan templates for Office users (you can get birthday invitations while you’re at it). If you’d rather do a business plan presentation than a Word doc, you can download one of Microsoft Office’s half a dozen or so PowerPoint templates for just that purpose. You’ll want to customize it with your company branding (you have your branding down, right?), but it’s easier than starting from a blank PPT.

7. Invoiceberry Templates for Word, Open Office, Excel, or PPT

U.K. online invoicing software brand Invoiceberry offers free business plan templates in .docx, .odt, .xlsx, and .pptx formats. Each one also contains a marketing plan and executive summary template. There’s a catch, though – the company asks you to take one of the following three actions before you can download the template: like it on Facebook, give it a +1 on Google+, or give it your email address. If you don’t mind doing that, it’s a good deal. Kudos to Invoiceberry for figuring out this effective lead-gen tactic too!

8. Santa Clara University’s My Own Business Institute Plans

Santa Clara U’s MOBI is an initiative of its Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Leavey School of Business. On the site, you can download each of the 15 business plan sections individually as Word documents, or grab all 15 together in one doc. There’s a ton of other helpful resources as well, including guidelines for evaluating your potential sites, a list of key people to review your plan, and sample financial sheets.

9. RocketLawyer’s Business Plan Templates by State

Like some of the others, you fill out RocketLawyer’s form and download the business plan when you’re done. These plans are tailored to meet your financing requirements which is a huge bonus for those seeking funding through banks. It’s also heavily geared toward financing, making it a good choice if that’s a priority for you.

Once your plan has been created

Creating your business plan is only the first step. Effectively executing against the plan is often what separates the winners from those businesses that stumble along.

  • Keep your business plan as a living document – don’t leave it to gather dust on a shelf.
  • Make sure it’s easily accessible and top-of-mind for you and your team.
  • Reflect your goals in the day-to-day operations of your business.
  • Outline the most practical and cost-effective way to achieve each goal – make a note of any extra resources you’ll need.
  • Make it clear these goals are the top priority for the business.

What’s often not included in templates like these, but is a critical component of business planning, is business insurance. For more information on the types of insurance available for your business visit https://www.state.co.nz/business

StrategyDriven Enterprises, LLC

StrategyDriven Enterprises, LLC

StrategyDriven is dedicated to providing executives and managers with the planning and execution advice, tools, and practices needed to create greater organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results.

We help our clients create and execute a clear, forward-looking strategy – translatable to the day-to-day activities of all organization members – that’s critical to their realizing success in today’s fast paced market environment. Not only does a compelling, well executed strategy align individuals to a common purpose, it ensures that purpose best serves the company’s mission.

The StrategyDriven website provides access to a wide array of best practice business planning and execution tools, streamlined process flows, how-to articles, example-rich podcasts, and customizable ready-to-use program management templates. Premium Members receive access to over 200 members-only articles, whitepapers, models, and tools and templates; providing an in-depth look into critical business performance areas; placing specific focus on the alignment of organizational standards, programs, and behaviors to the optimal achievement of mission goals. Sevian Business Program purchasers receive fully implementable business performance improvement processes out-of-the-box, enabling the acceleration of business growth and heightening of operational efficiency needed to significantly improve bottom line results.

Collectively, our products offer business leaders the opportunity to access the knowledge of a highly educated and experienced staff without the associated overhead expense.

At StrategyDriven, our seasoned business leaders deliver real-world strategic business planning and tactical execution best practice advice – a blending of workplace experience with sound research and academic principles – to business leaders who may not otherwise have access to these resources.

Contact StrategyDriven Enterprises, LLC

Phone: (770) 765-3692

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://www.strategydriven.com

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