As a small business manager, I know that we don’t always have the time to sit down and write an official business strategy.
It’s something I recommend spending some time on as it really helps you to define what you want your business to achieve. It then makes it easier to write business plans, which are equally as important and can be essential if you are seeking a loan or investment.
Developing a strategy might seem like hard work and you’re probably thinking you just don’t have the time for it. I’d like to share my Keep It Simple Stupid approach to small business strategy – which will take you no longer than half a day (four hours) to complete. Defining a strategy can be as simple as asking yourself: What, who, why, where, when and how?
What is your business all about? For some this will be an easier answer, for those of you whose businesses are going through a growth period or offering a variety of products or services. Asking ‘what?’ will help to 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’ and list the first adjectives that come to mind under each heading. Then pick a top three to five that 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 to find out more.
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 2-3 objectives and break each one down into smaller, achievable goals. Include why this is important to you and how it fits into the ‘what’ of your business.
It’s a good idea to write this strategy with the next 12 months to three years in mind. Put your goals and objectives into that plan and break it down into achievable milestones. Think about any other key dates you need to be aware of such as school holidays and other calendar events you can work with? Remember 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 some tactics to help ensure you put it all in place. Make a huge list of everything you could do then prioritise it all and add it into the calendar you started developing when you thought about the ‘when’?
That’s it! You’re done, you finally have a business strategy in place and it only took a few short hours. Don’t over-think it, just go ahead and do it, it’s a worthwhile activity that will help to give you direction and focus and see your business performing as well as you dreamed.
Julie Delaforce is the general manager of online community management business Quiip.