In the day-to-day of business operations, let’s be honest, you don’t always have time to sit down and write out an official strategy for each aspect of your business or new initiative. But, perhaps you should make the time. And if you do it correctly, you won’t need days or weeks. Simply carve out four hours.
Detailing a business strategy is something I highly recommend as it allows you to define what you want your business to achieve. It’s then also easier to develop out full business plans, which are equally as important and can be essential if you are seeking a loan or investment.
With my KISS (keep it simple stupid) approach to small business strategy, which will take you no longer than half a day (4 hours) to complete, defining a strategy can be as simple as asking yourself: What, who, why, when and how?
What is your business all about? For some, this will be an easy, low impact answer. But for those of you whose businesses are going through a growth period or offering a variety of products or services, asking “What” will finally help you define where you want to focus. If you want to write a mission or vision statement, do it now.
Who are you or who is your business? Define your business personality or brand. To make this as simple as possible, create two columns: “Is” and “Isn’t”. Then, list the first adjectives that come to mind under each heading. Finally, choose the top three to five you feel best define your brand.
You also need to ask who your audience or consumers are. Again, quickly list what you do know about them age groups, location, career, hobbies, interests, what technology they use and how they consume media (TV, magazines, social media). If you’re not sure, take to the internet and do some research.
Don’t forget to also think about who your employees and collaborators or partners are. Where do they fit in the big picture and how do you work with them?
This is a big one. Why are you doing what you do? Come up with two or three objectives and break each down into smaller, achievable goals. Include why it is important and how it fits into the “What” of your business.
It’s a good idea to write this strategy with the next one to three years in mind. Think about any key dates you need to be aware of such as holidays and other calendar events that could impact your business in some way, either positively or negatively. Remember also to block out time for leave. We all know we work better when we take time for ourselves, so make that one of your priorities.
Now that you have the what, who, why and when, you can move on to the how. This is where you make sense of all of the previous points and devise tactics to help ensure you put it all in place. Make a list of everything you could do and then prioritise it all. Add these action items into the calendar you started developing during the “When” phase.
That’s it! You’re done, you finally have a business strategy in place and it only took a few short hours. Don’t overthink it, just go ahead and do it. It’s a worthwhile activity that will help give you direction and focus and see your business performing as well as you dreamed it would.