With 2019 right around the corner, now is the perfect time to stop and reflect about whether your business is headed in the direction you want it to be. Developing or reviewing your business strategy is the perfect tool to help you focus.
Think of yourself in the middle of a cross-country drive: Are you on the right road or have you gotten side-tracked, spending time on something that might have been fun, but not profitable? Is your car holding up? Do you have enough gas money to make it the rest of the way? These and other questions can be answered by developing or revising your business strategy.
Your business strategy has three parts: your mission statement, vision and strategies. Let’s take a look at each one.
A mission statement describes what the company is in business to do, and while you could simply state a mission similar to “Our mission is to sell our products and services,” you may want to think bigger than that in terms of how you want to be known or to impact more than your clients/customers.
A bad mission statement includes a number such as “We want to reach $7 million in sales.” This is a financial goal, not a mission statement. My company’s mission statement is “We are passionately committed to helping people achieve entrepreneurial prosperity.”
Intuit’s® mission is inspiring: “Powering prosperity around the world” and Nike’s mission is pretty famous: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Spend some time thinking about how you want to impact the world, then craft your mission statement accordingly. When you have completed it, consider adding it to your website, like we’ve done on my site, Accountant’s Accelerator.
A vision statement describes your company’s futureposition. It’s what you aspire to be. It needs to be big, emotional and inspiring.
Ford’s vision is “To become the world’s leading consumer company for automotive products and services.” Southwest Airlines wants “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.” The American Heart Association’s vision is “Everyone lives life with optimal health.”
My company’s vision is “We will become the world’s leading provider of prosperity-based small business education inspiring breakthroughs to owners of small businesses.” The AICPA’s vision is “The world leader in driving vitality, relevance and quality across the accounting profession, furthering its trust and influence.”
Developing your vision will help you focus on what you want to achieve and help you dream about what could be possible.
A vision statement usually includes how the business wants to be perceived. For many accounting firms, vision includes being the most well-respected and/or professionally competent firm in their region or country.
Three points to remember:
- Don’t write a long vision statement that sounds like it was written by a committee. You want people to remember it, not fall asleep!
- While your vision statement should be big, it should not be overly broad, such as “To be the best company ever.” People should know what industry you’re in from your vision statement.
- Proof for typos. You might be surprised at the number of companies with typos in their vision statements.
Once your mission and vision are defined, you can start developing strategies. You know who you want to be and where you want to go. Now, how do you get there?
Your business strategies support how you’ll get from where you are, to what is stated in your mission and vision statements. While there may be many ways to accomplish your mission and vision, strategies are the approaches you’ll take to get there.
Here are some common examples of areas where strategies can be developed:
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Create and launch a new service
- Add a new niche to the list of clients you serve
- Make a pricing change
- Add an app and design a new service around it
- Increase revenues
- Diversify your client base
- Discontinue a service or type of client
- Improve client communications
- Open a new location
- Work on your internal culture
- Attract better job candidates
- Ad an international aspect to your business
- Add or improve training program(s)
- Improve digital presence
- Impact delivery time
- Implement a new back office system
- Grow capacity
- Complete special projects
- Purchase a large asset such as a building or equipment
Select one or more of these examples (or write your own), and customize them to your situation. Compare them to your mission and vision to make sure you’re on track. With a little bit of thinking mixed in, you’ll have your 2019 playbook of strategies for your business. Do keep in mind that while a company’s mission and vision statements are generally public knowledge, strategies are confidential for competitive purposes.
Poof! You Now Have a Real Business Plan!
You can further develop your strategies into specific goals. All of these components actually make up a business plan, so congratulations; you now have a fully functioning business plan to guide you and get you to your business goals faster than ever before in 2019.