The past few years have been tumultuous for businesses in all industries. While there’s still plenty of uncertainty with the impending recession and high inflation, many businesses are starting to get back on track and settle in.
Many businesses have shared a single strategy since 2020: survive. Now, it’s time to recalibrate and create a functional strategy that promotes ongoing survival in the new normal.
Here are some key elements to explore to build a great strategy for your business.
Identify Your Mission and Values
First, start by identifying your mission and values. If you’re starting a new business, doing some self-exploration can help you clarify these concepts. If you have an existing business, revisit your mission and values to determine if you’re still aligned or if your priorities have shifted.
A mission is usually a short statement about what mark your business hopes to leave on the world. It tends to be more conceptual than a business objective.
For instance, the goal of the workout company Bells of Steel is to “get stronger, healthier, and more muscles for your hard-earned bucks.” Coca-Cola has an objective “to revive the planet. to foster joyful and optimistic experiences. to contribute and change the world.”
Missions and values are closely related. Values reflect the company’s ethics and beliefs. Pepsi’s core values include, “sustained growth, empowering people, trust, and responsibility.” Tesla’s core values include, “doing the best, taking risks, respect, constant learning, and environmental consciousness.”
Outlining these concepts helps create a framework to direct the business. All initiatives, employee hires, and decisions should meet your mission and value standards.
Research the Market
The next step in creating an amazing business strategy is to research the market. Consider running a standard SWOT analysis to analyze the competition, external factors, potential new market opportunities, and areas of improvement in your business.
SWOT stands for:
- Strengths – what your business can do well or has as an asset.
- Weaknesses – what your business does poorly or internal barriers to success.
- Opportunities – what potential markets, demographics, or consumer issues your product can address?
- Threats – your competition and external barriers to success.
Ongoing market research is essential for continued business success. Consider running a SWOT annually to clarify how your business fits in the market and how you can improve in the coming years.
Outline the Customer Journey
Outlining the customer journey will help you understand how the customer interacts with your brand. Mapping the customer journey requires looking at all the contact points a potential customer may have with your brand. This could include anything from reading a blog on your website with no brand awareness to seeking customer service support after their fifth transaction.
Improve customer experience interactions by addressing pain points, optimizing touch points, and capturing their feedback. Creating goals around this process based on your journey mapping will help support your brand’s growth and success.
Identify Top Priorities and Opportunities
Once you’ve explored the market research and customer experience, consider what opportunities are within reach. You may identify several options for expanding or increasing your business. However, some of those opportunities may not be feasible.
Simplify this process by creating a matrix with four quadrants, labeled:
- High-value, low cost
- High-value, high cost
- Low-value, low cost
- Low-value, high cost
Outline your opportunities, innovations, new markets, product improvements, and blue-sky ideas on this matrix in the appropriate quadrant. This exercise will help you identify low-hanging fruit and high-value long-term goals. This also helps you eliminate distractions that hold little value or return.
Outline Goals and Objectives
Take your best opportunities and create clear goals and objectives from them. These will be your business goals to work on throughout the execution of your strategy.
Effective goals fit the SMART protocol:
- Specific – the success metrics are clearly defined.
- Measurable – timelines and outcomes are tangible.
- Attainable – the goal is realistic given the timeframe and resources.
- Relevant – the goal fits the overall company mission and values.
- Timely – clear deadlines are set.
Goals are the roadmap for your business. They can include anything from releasing new products to acquiring a new customer base to strict revenue growth.
Incorporating several types of goals can help you take a well-rounded approach to your business. Conversely, one or two top-priority goals can help you stay focused.
Refine Goals into Action Steps
Goals without an action plan are just dreams. Once your goals are defined, break them down into smaller action steps and milestones. Your goal is what you hope to accomplish; your action plan is how you’ll do it.
For example, if you have a revenue growth goal of $250,000 this year, what does that look like each month? How will you accomplish this? What activities will your team have to do every day to reach this goal?
The better you break your goals into actionable steps, the more strategic you can be with execution.
Identify Resource Needs
Identifying resource needs is a crucial part of the business strategy. Take a look at your goals and clarify what support you’ll require to make them happen. These resources typically come in three forms:
- Human resources
- Financial resources
- Tools and systems
Say you need marketing support to hit your revenue growth goal. You identify the need for a marketing specialist on your team (human resources), a social media posting platform, an email marketing platform (tools), and the capital to finance these resources (financial resources).
Breaking down the financial components will help you identify any further barriers to your plans so you can redirect or find ways to acquire the resources. If you reach out for financing from a bank or investors, having this element in your strategy is essential.
A business strategy isn’t set in stone. However, it’s a valuable thought exercise for identifying opportunities and working through challenges before risking valuable resources.
Incorporate milestones and success metrics in your business strategy to use as a measuring stick for your progress. It’s worth revisiting this document regularly and course-correcting as needed.