Business Strategy.

The challenge.

A business needs a clearly articulated strategy in order to attract funding, focus its resources and align the efforts of its management and staff.

The solutions.

Set a clear target

Adopt a planning horizon (perhaps three years).

Describe in one or two sentences what you want the business to look like in three years (with financial or other targets as appropriate).

Develop this from a realistic analysis of your market, competition and the opportunities and threats facing your business.

Identify ‘critical success factors

Identify four or five factors that are supremely important if you are to achieve your three-year aim (ie what will success really hinge on?).

Describe each of these in a sentence or two.

Specify targets and key performance indicators (KPIs) for each factor that you will use to indicate that you are on-course over the next three years.

Specify priorities

Against each success factor, identify your tactics for year one (important actions that will ensure success).

Set timings and allocate responsibility for each tactic.

Consider what might go wrong and include tactics that will reduce or manage these risks.

Develop your strategy as a team

Strategy development will benefit greatly from the active involvement of your senior team, yielding additional ideas and insights.

The process will develop and spread a detailed understanding, reducing the risk of over-reliance on any one person.

Try to capture the key points on a single page (distillation of your thinking will force the team to focus on what is important).

Implementation is everything

A well-developed strategy will achieve nothing without effective implementation.

Use the strategy to set personal goals and ensure that critical success factors are properly managed.

Allocate time at management meetings to ensure that the big picture is not forgotten.

Change plans and priorities if circumstances demand this.

Build a business-wide sense of direction and energy by communicating the strategy clearly.

Celebrate success frequently.