Create A Business Strategy That Works

Having a business strategy is more important now than it ever was before. As a small business you might find yourself in hot waters at the minute due to the current economic climate, and the fact that many small businesses haven’t survived the pandemic. When the world shut down and nobody was trading, business profits obviously plummeted and a lot of small businesses that were already on the brink have had to cease trading. So if you’re here reading this as a trading business then you’ve already done far better than many small businesses before you. Unless you’ve found some way to have a huge cash injection from somewhere you will no doubt be feeling the pressure to perform at the minute, especially if you’ve got staff employed under your belt. So, we’re going to try and help you create a business strategy that we think works during these current turbulent times.

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article | Create A Business Strategy That WorksA Financial Plan

This is the most important one that you need to be thinking about. Your financial plan now will be far different to the one that it was at the start of the year. Our advice is to be a little more cutthroat with the cuts you make. It’s like with your personal spendings, you get used to the money you have to spend and it’s hard to change back from that. Business is no different, areas of your business are used to receiving a certain amount of money and it’s hard to change that. So one area we would suggest making cuts is with employees, if you need to. If times are really testing, you should consider joining the many businesses who have had to make their staff redundant. Although it’s such a hard thing to do, it’s the easiest way to save a lot of money for the year.

A Marketing Plan

The quickest way to get your business back on track is to sell sell sell, and the quickest way to do that is to get people thinking about your business again. One we think small businesses in particular seem to not focus on, is SEO. Everything is online at the minute and most people will Google your business, or keywords related to it, before they decide to work with you. But what if they can’t find you? Or what if competitors beat you in the search? That’s where SEO comes in. ECommerce SEO might be a little more expensive compared to some marketing methods, but it’s going to prove the most effective if you want to gain attention. So are simple marketing techniques such as billboard advertising. It’s the sort of in your face advertising that you need!

A Sales Plan

Finally, make sure that you have a solid sales plan. One idea might be to go through your directory of old clients or customers and get in touch with them. Just a courtesy phone call or email to see how they’re doing and to put your business back in their mind. You don’t have to push sales or make multiple calls, that’s when your business gains a bad reputation.

3 Steps to Creating an eCommerce Strategy for Your Business

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article |Ecommerce strategy|3 Steps to Creating an eCommerce Strategy for Your BusinessFor an eCommerce store to be as successful as it can be, the business or individual behind it needs to have a clear strategy. This is because a strategy helps keep the business-focused, and also allows you to measure how your business is doing, which can give you critical insight on how to develop and change your approach in the future.

A strategy is an outline of how your store is planning to achieve its goals and improve its market position. Strategies can alter depending on the specific goals for the business, and these can range from reaching more customers to boosting customer engagement. There are a few things to consider when making a strategy for your ecommerce strategy, here are some essential steps you can’t miss.

Create a Buyers Persona

When making a strategy that targets your audience in some way, you must get a good understanding of who that audience is. It’s useful to know their interests, demographic, age, income, location, as well as other factors, as this can inform how you go about your strategy.

One of the best ways to get to grips with your audience is to create a buyer persona. These are semi-fictitious representations of your customers, which are informed by some of the data you have on previous buyers. A good persona will go deeper than the surface level details and investigate their desires and wants in terms of buying, what challenges they may face and what they’re interested in, as these can help you implement the right procedures and processes into your eCommerce website. If you’re unsure where to start, you can use a template to make sure you cover the essentials.

Set SMART Goals

SMART goals help you define what you want to accomplish and puts tangible metrics in place that can be used to track your progress. For example, your overall goal may be to boost customer engagement. As SMART goals, this will be translated into things that are numerical and measurable, such as increasing the number of shares, comments or likes, or boosting the number of reviews customers leave. SMART goals have to be the following:

  • Specific, meaning that it’s defined and not too broad.
  • Measurable means that that you can track your progress.
  • Achievable, so that it’s realistic.
  • Relevant, meaning that it’s useful.
  • Timely, meaning that it has a deadline to be achieved by.

It can be challenging to know what goals you should be aiming for, and which of them would help improve your business. That’s why a lot of ecommerce businesses turn to third-party companies such as this Magento agency in Manchester, as they can help you find the perfect strategy and build a fantastic website.

Define Your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

KPIs are pieces of data or information that can be used to track how well your strategy is performing. There are many different performance indicators and metrics, with some being only useful in certain situations and criteria, meaning that it’s essential to identify which indicators are useful for your specific goals.

It’s important not to get performance indicators confused with outcomes. An indicator is something that’s active and tracks efficiency, and is usually represented through percentages or ratios, such as a click-through rate or bounce rate.

How We Prioritize at Sticker Mule

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | How We Prioritize at Sticker MuleOrganizations are the sum of their decisions. Those that prioritize well prosper and those that don’t falter. At Sticker Mule, prioritization is the most important thing we do. Our growth accelerates as we prioritized better, but there’s always room to improve.

What prioritization is not

Most literature on prioritization is terrible. It leads you to believe prioritization is about time management or how to use to-do lists. This way of thinking neglects that priorities are what make or break businesses.

Consider that Amazon started as a bookstore in 1994 and grew to $147 million within 3 years. Today they employ 500,000 people who handle $200 billion in revenue. They picked the right projects and grew at an extraordinary pace.

Other retailers had different priorities and either failed or are much smaller. Walmart could be Amazon, but they did not prioritize the Internet and now they are worth half as much.

What prioritization is

Prioritization is picking the right tasks to maximize impact. That means finding high impact tasks and avoiding low impact ones. Usually the highest impact tasks are elusive. We don’t know the highest impact projects we could pursue right now.

Prioritization might sound stressful, but it’s not. Most tasks won’t affect us. Consequently, we shouldn’t stress about the backlog of tasks we “need” to do. We need to keep our minds free to pursue high impact ideas, when they present themselves, by neglecting low impact ones.

Prioritization categories

It’s unproductive to precisely categorize every task, but it’s useful to roughly classify them in your mind. Prioritization improves with practice and thinking about these categories helps us improve.

  • Growth vs. costs – It’s generally better to use our time to grow revenue than reduce costs. Time is finite. Cash isn’t.
  • High vs. low impact – High impact is better, but completing lots of low impact tasks can be worthwhile if we complete them quickly.
  • Enduring vs. temporary – Tasks that provide enduring value are preferable to those that deliver value temporarily.
  • Definite vs. potential – It’s better to pursue improvements with definite benefits than those with potential.
  • Short vs. long term results – Quick wins are preferable, but you can build competitive advantage pursuing ideas that yield results in the long term since others tend to neglect them.
  • Related vs. unrelated tasks – Sometimes related tasks are completed more efficiently when grouped together. For this reason, we often do low impact tasks that pair well with high impact ones.
  • Estimated time to complete – All else equal, tasks that can be completed faster are preferable.


Ask yourself these questions periodically to improve your ability to prioritize:

  1. What’s the most impactful thing you can work on?
  2. Did you correctly identify the problems you are facing?
  3. Do you know the most important problem to solve next?
  4. Can you replace any planned tasks with better ones?
  5. Can you delete any especially low impact tasks entirely?


We aim to embed a passion for prioritization into our culture. If you think similarly and want to join our global team, we are hiring.

About the Author

Anthony Constantino is the cofounder and CEO of Sticker Mule. A factory guy at heart, Anthony oversees an operation that spans 16 countries in 4 continents with customers including Google, Facebook, Twitter and many of the world’s best brands. He’s determined to make Sticker Mule, already the Internet’s favorite printing company, the absolute best place to work and shop.

Want To Create SMART Objectives? Here’s How

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article |Business Objectives|Want To Create SMART Objectives? Here's HowNo matter what type of business you have, you’ll need to set clear objectives quarterly or annually. A way of identifying future goals, along with the timeline, they will help you to achieve growth.

Whether your objectives involve increasing business revenue, maximizing your profits, providing better customer service or improving the productivity within your workplace, if you use the right tools you’ll be able to accomplish it.

For these to be successful, you should make them SMART. But what does this mean?


You need to ensure that you’re setting very specific objectives. The more specific they are, the more likely it is that you’ll achieve them. An example of an objective which is specific is – increasing sales by 25% by the end of the next quarter through an online marketing campaign. Giving your employees clear guidance, they know what they should be working towards.


When creating your objectives, you should also make them measurable. Identifying exactly what you want to see when you reach your goal, you’ll be able to use the results to showcase their measurability. Breaking it into various elements, it’s a way of refining the steps you will have to take.


Are they attainable? During the process, you need to make sure that you’re not setting goals that are out of reach. To make these achievable and attainable, you need to prepare your staff in advance and have the resources in place.


Can you realistically accomplish these? Are they relevant to your exact needs? These thoughts should be consistent throughout the process to ensure that you’re following the right path.


You need to set a deadline – otherwise, you’ll find that there is no hurry to focus on the objectives. This deadline doesn’t have to be rigid, it can be flexible – as long as you or your employees don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve.

So, how do you create them?

Identify The Objective’s Priorities

At the start of the process, you should sit down with your employees and map out what your objectives should be. By setting a concrete vision and conducting a SWOT analysis, you’ll be able to analyze your business’ opportunities, strengths, weaknesses and any potential threats.

Through an open discussion, you should pay attention to key areas within your business, looking at how the objectives can be shaped around them. For example:

  • In the Finance Department, an objective could be to cut spending and improve profit margins.
  • In Operations, you could introduce new technology or update your current software.
  • In Quality – introduce new processes so that all of your products/services are to the highest possible quality.

While identifying priorities and performing a SWOT analysis, you can also review your business’ past performance. Using KPIs as a benchmark, you can create a comparison between your past and future performance.

Evaluate the Market

After identifying priorities, set about evaluating the current market situation. By looking at the market and industry as a whole, you’ll start to notice trends for the upcoming year. Helping you to compete successfully alongside other players within the industry, it will give you a clearer picture of how your company will fit into the landscape.

Keep Your Employees in The Loop

Throughout the course of achieving your business objectives, you should keep your employees up to date with the success of them. By asking for feedback and uncovering the impact that different changes have on your business, you’ll be able to plan your next steps.

A good way of getting your employees involved is through an OKR (Objectives and Key Results spreadsheet). Shared across the company, it will list the steps that each employee will take to achieve the objectives.

Use Sales Playbooks

By utilizing the power of AI Generated Sales Playbooks, you’ll be able to characterize the responsibilities for both you and your sales team. Identifying metrics for measurement and the right approach for successfully closing sales, you’ll be able to establish more concrete objectives.

Strategy Is a Process

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article | Strategy Is a ProcessFor as long as the word “strategy” has been in use it has been represented as something mythical. Many seminal articles have been written that describe what business strategy is, what it’s not, how to know if you have a strategy, how to test your strategy – and the list goes on. Even for those companies that understand the process, some do it very well and some do it very poorly.

Why has the process of developing and implementing a business strategy been so hard for businesses to utilize? Foremost is that, because the concept has been so misunderstood, many companies believe they have a strategy or — even more dangerously — they’re implementing a strategy by relying on erroneous ideas about what constitutes strategy. These include such persistent myths as:

  • Our people are our strategy
  • Customer service is our strategy
  • Our brand is our strategy
  • International growth is our strategy

None of these is a strategy! Some represent unfocused hopes, while others are just platitudes.

For example, having employees implement a strategy to provide customer service is simply the orthodox (table stakes) element that organizations must deliver to remain viable. Providing standard customer service doesn’t separate an organization from its competitors in the eyes of the customers. Furthermore, absent very carefully designed guardrails, each employee will decide what constitutes ‘good’ customer service.

Strategy is a process that, at its core, consists of designing and implementing elements of the organization that will draw customers past your competitors, allow you to charge more than your competitors and/or provide you with a cost advantage.

Regardless of how you decide to approach strategy in your organization, do it with an understanding of what really works. This means taking a logical, research- and practice-based approach to defining, crafting and executing organizational strategy.

Strategy is still mostly art, but by remaining disciplined and analytical about the elements, your company will be far ahead of your competitors.

Apply these guidelines in your process-oriented approach to strategy:

1. Strategy starts external to the organization. A winning business strategy must focus on why customers really buy a product or service from an organization, and what distinguishes that purchase in the eye of the customer. This requires taking the perspective of the customer.

2. Bring conventional operations up to the median expectation. Assess what is orthodox, or the table stakes, for the organization in the eyes of the customer. Focus on those parts of the organization that are below the median expectations and are frustrating to customers. This may involve ensuring that employees are doing their jobs and doing them well. Exceeding the median expectation for standard elements of business is simply wasted money.

3. Identify the organization’s competitive advantages. While half of business strategy is maintaining conventional operations at or slightly above the median customer expectations, the other half is focusing the entire organization around true competitive advantages. To identify your competitive advantages, list all current and potential elements of the business that will encourage customers to go past your competitors and buy from you. Analyze each of them with some version of Resource-Based Analysis to determine those that constitute a true advantage. A business needs to have two or three true competitive advantages.

4. Optimize organizational structure. The next step is to develop operational plans that address every element that survives your resource-based analysis, along with every orthodox element that’s determined to be below median expectations. Implementation of strategy is difficult and often frustrating, particularly when employees don’t understand why a structure has been put in place or how it will work. Strategy can only be implemented by the employees of the organization, therefore it’s best to have employee participation in the process so that they embrace the approach.

5. Rework the mission around the strategy. Aligning the entire company around the strategy requires a unifying mission. An effective mission statement must be short, simple, specific to the organization and able to focus everyone’s energy. A great check on the quality of the mission statement is the leadership’s ability to design metrics that measure each part.

Strategy is not magic, it’s not wishful thinking and it’s not platitudes. Strategy is hard work that requires significant thought by organizational leaders. Utilizing a real process to craft strategy allows the organization to win over new customers and more easily retain current ones.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Chuck BamfordChuck Bamford, Ph.D., is the Managing Partner of Bamford Associates, LLC, a strategy consulting firm that has worked with hundreds of organizations as they develop and implement a compelling strategy. He is an Adjunct Professor of Strategy at Duke University (Fuqua) and the University of Notre Dame (Mendoza), and was previously a professor at Texas Christian University and the University of Richmond among others. He has written seven books. His latest book is The Strategy Mindset 2.0: A Practical Guide to the Design and Implementation of Strategy. Learn more at