Your business strategy is a powerful tool that can 'eliminate the gaps' in your path to success.
Whether you're a start-up planning from scratch, or an existing business re-thinking the way you do things, regularly revisiting of your business strategy is important.
If you've been in business for a while and things are getting a bit tired or your revenue lines are a bit flat, it's definitely time to reinvigorate your business strategy.
Starting a winning business strategy
Call in the troops. Don't develop your business strategy in a vacuum. Gather your team in a room and work on the business strategy together, getting everyone's input and feedback.
In small businesses of five, 10 or even 25 people, that could mean everyone in the business. When you're a larger business, get key people representing different areas of the business to help. If you're a start-up or a company of two – get out of your office, go out and talk to real customers about what you think you're going to do, find what they like about your ideas, and what they don't!
Isolate: find the obvious market – and check the competition
The first step to building your business strategy is to distinguish between your traditional business and your obvious customer – then, look at ways to build new business.
If you're a traditional corner store for example, your regular customers know what you sell, and foot traffic gives your regular revenue. In a service business, you'll have core customers who keep returning, and for start-ups, you'll ask: "What will a typical customer buy from me, and what will that sale look like?"
- Now with your obvious customer in mind, check out what the competition is doing in the same space:
Who's the best - and why?
- Who is the market leader - and why?
Differentiate: make your products better and more attractive
Your quest now is to make your business look better and more attractive to your typical customer so you can attract more of them.
For the corner store, if your competition is now selling ice cream and sorbet, then you need an ice cream and sorbet machine too. Maybe you get extra flavours.
Figure out the best way to price what you do and to show that it's valuable to your customers, and also add value or features that your competition isn't offering.
If you're a hairdresser, you might have better appointment flexibility for busy patrons or make clients feel special in other ways (coffee, music, online tablets) – each business must decide what that 'value add' will be.