Creating your business strategy
Leverage up-to-date market insight from a variety of different perspectives to identify growth opportunities, develop superior business positioning, and to put human, physical and financial capital to work. This knowledge and insight will support you in preparing business a strategy that best fits your business goals and needs.
• Align stakeholder and market expectations around a clear journey. Your strategy has to be supported by your key stakeholders to ensure successful execution.
Your business strategy will tackle a range of internal and external perspectives. You need to plan for factors that you can control, including governance, marketing, sales and distribution, and you need a good understanding of factors you need to respond to, such as the market, your competitors and the general business environment.
• Some of the questions your strategy should answer are:
- How will you profitably enter new or existing markets and segments?
- How will you harness, develop and commercialise innovative products and services?
- How will you attract and retrain customers and earn their loyalty?
- What are the most attractive ways to grow revenue and improve margin?
- Which targets should you aim for or advance towards to accelerate growth?
- Are there any synergies with other business partners where you could benefit from collaboration?
- How can you align your operating model and cost structure?
- Do you have the right portfolio of business assets and capabilities, or do you need to acquire, build or divest?
Implement your business strategy
Preparing your business strategy document alone will not suffice. The hard work comes in implementing and following your strategy in daily business operations. You must carefully follow your strategy and overcome barriers such as resources (people, skills, budget, systems and technology), business culture and any necessary changes to the strategy that become apparent.
Ensure you have adequate resources for the process and that your key stakeholders are familiar with the strategy.
• Good communication of your business strategy is key to a successful implementation. Your people (and others involved in the process) need to understand what the objectives are and how they should be achieved. Make sure your strategy statement is well-written and as clear as possible.
Creating your business plan
Having a business plan is critical to the success of your business and to securing sufficient finance and business liquidity. The planning process helps you gather together all ideas and opportunities and follow a structured process when making growth choices.
• A business plan is usually created before something is built and helps the business to answer questions such as:
— What is the end user proposition?
— Do you understand all the costs?
— Will it make you enough money?
• The business plan guides you in achieving your goals and turning your ideas into reality.
• Finance is a key part of the analysis, so typically spreadsheets showing customer numbers, sales, revenue, cost and profitability is an important part of the work done. Showing financial analyses to your creditors or investors will increase the trust they have in your business and demonstrate the viability of your idea.
When creating your business plan you have to decide what its purpose is and who the plan is for. The plan should include information tailored to the parties for which it is developed: that which is of most interest and relevance to them.
• Focus on the metrics that really matter. Do not include extraneous metrics or activity that is not appropriate to or relevant in your business context.
A business plan usually consists of:
• executive summary
• project details
• responsibility assignment matrix (RACI)
• market analysis
• end user analysis
• financial analysis
• deployment and marketing plans
• operational plans
• KPIs and milestones
• risks and mitigation.
• Make sure you conduct thorough research to develop a plan for your business.
• A detailed business plan that represents the most important aspects of your business will enable you to determine your current position, your desired future position and the path to get you there. This will help you gain control over your business and prioritise actions.
• Here is a template to help you create your own business plan.
Whether you want to implement change or inform your audience regarding certain news or developments, you need efficient and effective communication methods. Your strategic communication plan should outline the strategy and process for communicating with key stakeholders. It should cover customers, suppliers, management, government officials and regulators, employees, the community and the media.
• A clear communication strategy shows the recommended communication process to be followed, what delivery mechanisms to employ to implement the communication process, the parties involved and what media to leverage in this process.
• The strategy may apply to internal as well as external (marketing communications and public relations) communications and support both short-term collaborative solutions and long-term business relationships.
• A good communication strategy focuses on communication goals, the target audience, the communication plan and the channels used to deliver the message.
Gain commitment to the process of communication throughout your business. Develop a communication strategy and plan to create a common understanding of the business and performance goals as well as to clarify all the roles and responsibilities in the communications process.
• Identify the communications media to be used and specify when key messages should be communicated to stakeholders.
• Effective management of the communication process itself should result in:
- reduced operating costs associated with ineffective communications, avoiding inconsistencies, duplications, errors or delays
- a lasting framework for communication planning and a structured approach to communications and stakeholder management
- communication processes aligned to the goals and culture of the business.
• Use the communications strategy template to create it.
Communication during challenging times
Challenging times keep businesses busy, and in such times, communication can be easily overlooked. To minimise disruption to business models and day-to-day work in difficult business environments, ensure the right people are getting the right information at the right time.
• Knowing who you need to communicate with and how is a good starting point. Be it talking to employees about the future of the company, or understanding how affected suppliers may be, it is good to talk.
Analyse your communication strategy in the event of disruption to ensure you can communicate efficiently and swiftly with all necessary parties.
• Coordinate your own information sharing and team collaboration in response to evolving conditions in times of crisis.
• Update your communication and marketing plan if necessary.
Maintain regular communication with your employees and provide them with up-to-date information. For more information, click here.
If you have to temporarily suspend your business activities, ensure you notify your key customers and suppliers and have plans in place to inform them when you restart your operations.