Purpose of a strategy
As Yogi Berra said “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” So, if you haven’t got a scooby where your business is going or what you are going to do next to grow your business, then how will you know whether you are doing the right things to help make you successful? Without a plan you will be rudderless and without clear aims and goals. A well-formulated and executed strategy establishes the foundations against which you can create, monitor and measure your success. I know that when I started my virtual assistance business I had a strategy, which listed my goals and the tasks I needed to achieve my objectives. Sometimes things would come up and I would put aside the tasks I had prioritised to work on something else. Time would go by and I would realise that I had veered away from my strategy and started working on something that didn’t actually help me achieve my goals.. But having that strategy there, allowed me to take a step back and refocus on those tasks that gave the most value with the least effort. Without it, I would have continued working aimlessly and maybe I would still been at the same stage as I am today, but having a roadmap enabled me to quickly and easily get back on track.
When to create a strategy
It’s never too early to start to think about your strategy. As soon as you have an idea, you will need to know whether your idea has merit and to think about how you will promote your product or service. You will need to understand your target market, know where they hang out and how best to build a relationship with them. You will also need to be aware of your competitors, what do they do that you like, or dislike? Are there areas in the market that are you can exploit? A strategy can help with all of this.
How to create a strategy
Start by thinking about your ideal customer, what do they look like, who do they admire, what books, films, TV shows do they like. What problem will you solve for them. Don’t try to be all things to all people. It just doesn’t work. You end up diluting your message and not attracting anyone, or attracting jobs and clients that you really wish you hadn’t. I was talking with a friend recently who described the spiritual practice of sales, where you attract those customers that you vibrate positively with, by acting authentically and offering your products and services honestly to those who will get the most from them. So, by not setting out a strategy that tries to sell to the masses, you create a more specific message which appeals to your ideal customer and helps you serve in the way that you feel most passionate about. So, think about your personal strengths and weaknesses. Where do you see opportunities or threats and what are you capable of achieving if you really put your mind to it? Identify the trends in your market and try to identify how you might adapt your offering to these external factors. When I first started, I thought that all the things I had learnt while working in the corporate environment were obsolete so I spent time trying to learn all of the new tools. After a while I took a step back and identified my transferable skills and went about researching how I could exploit these to better serve my clients. What I learnt was that I do love techy stuff. I love that it helps create order and make people’s lives easier, but that the techy stuff is only a small bit of what I am good at. I realised that I am good at looking holistic at the bigger picture, I can take disparate pieces of information and bring them together to make a strategic plan. That’s when I really started to identify my niche and understand how I could help others create strategies for success.
So, once you have identified your niche and your ideal customer, the next step is to identify your goals. What do you want to achieve in the next 3 months, 12 months and 5 years? What will you need to do to get there and what strategies will you need to put in place to achieve your objectives. You will also need to think about the people who are important to your success. This will include not only your customers and competitors, but also your friends and family. Are they supportive? Will they help you achieve your ambitions? If you can’t get their buy-in, will you still be able to succeed. What do you need to do to make them understand how important it is to you and that their support is imperative to your success?
Managing your strategy
A strategy is not a one off exercise, something you do, because you feel you should… then you just put it on the shelf and never look at it.. Oh, no! It’s a living, breathing thing. Everything you do, every choice you make will have an effect on your strategy and on the success of your business. Of course, you also need to make sure your strategy is adaptable. What are your core competencies? Think about what you would do, if your audience disappeared tomorrow, is there another market you could advertise your products or services? Is there a way to adapt your product or service so it becomes more attractive to your current audience?
Russell Brunson talks about finding a Blue Ocean of perfect customers, where you identify a really specific niche within your market, where the ocean is blue and you can offer your opportunity to those customers. Being the market leader gives you the freedom to shape your niche, to clearly articulate why your offering fits their needs and because there is no one else providing exactly the same as your product or service then those who buy it will more readily identify with the contributions that you are making to their lives. By having a strategy which is adaptable, you will be able to plan for the long term, but also be able to roll with the punches, giving you a business that is sustainable and can be successful for years to come.
So, having some clear goals and plans on how to achieve them is totally the right thing, but you shouldn’t continue blindly if something changes. There will be parts of your strategy that fall by the wayside, and other things that emerge as you go along. That’s why I suggest having a long-term strategy, but having regular reviews and setting specific tasks that need to be achieved during that time.
Most people can’t do everything at once (I know I can’t), so being able to analyse where you are and where you want to be, so you can select areas to focus on during a set period of time makes it easier for you to move your business forward in a planned manner. Reflecting on what is working and you need to do more of, or where you need to either put greater focus or perhaps even drop altogether enables you to move your business forward quicker than trying to do everything at once.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with what to do next why not joint you my 6-week program, Building your Savvy Business Strategy, a 1:1 program, which takes an depth look at all areas of your business and where you will:
- Review where you are and want to get to in your business, and understand your current business model
- Start to interpret the data, so you can understand what’s working well and adjust where necessary
- Analyse your social media content, so you have a strong foundation on which to build
- Model your business against best practices, so you can identify opportunities for improvement
- Devise a 90-day roadmap, so you can start to implement a long-term strategy to grow your business
- Learn how to implement your own business strategy, so you can feel organised and focused
I will guide you through evaluating your business, identifying your ideal customer, and supporting development of the strategy you need to improve and grow a sustainable business.