5 Top Tips to Develop a Business Strategy

5 Top Tips to Develop a Business Strategy

17th July 2023, 1:42 pm

Setting out to create a strategy can be a daunting prospect. A quick internet search for “business strategy” quickly turns up a myriad of models, charts, diagrams and buzzwords, mostly aimed at larger corporate organisations. So how can a small business owner/manager come up with a good strategy to take their enterprise forwards?

With these five tips under your belt, you’ll have an easier time in selecting the tools and models you might want to use to build your strategy. We cover some key ones in our Help to Grow programme, and help you build a strategy for growth with defined actions. You’ll also find some helpful information and advice on the OpenSME website, a free learning platform for small business managers across Greater Manchester.

1. Put it in context

Your strategy doesn’t sit in isolation. Think of it as a journey you intend to make. What is the destination? How will you get there? How will you know you’ve arrived? The answers to these questions will depend a lot on your values (what is important to you, what

behaviours you accept and reject from staff, customers and suppliers), your vision (how you would like the world to be) and mission (how your existence contributes to making that vision come about). Your strategy then becomes what you will do to make your mission real. So take time to make sure you’ve a clear idea of what these elements are; your strategy won’t succeed if it clashes with your values, and isn’t an effective way of achieving your mission and getting you closer to your vision.

2. Don’t fly solo

You aren’t alone on your journey; you will have staff, customers and suppliers to take with you; maybe others. Get wide perspectives on your ideas, and gather ideas from others. Do your staff have untapped skills they want to deploy? Do your customers want something from you that you don’t currently offer, but could? Are their contacts or potential partners available to move things forward?

3. Don’t fret about originality

Commerce has been underway since ancient times, and there are millions of businesses around the globe active right now. So you don’t have to be unique in your strategy – actually, some theorists argue there are only really four basic strategies anyway. It’s far, far better to focus on something that works for you. Something that builds on your strengths, diminishes your weaknesses, opens up your opportunities and overcomes any threats.

4. Can you get there from here?

Start with a solid understanding of where you are now – think back to that journey metaphor. If I’m planning a luxury cruise as my journey, I have to get from my home to the port to meet the ship, and my planning for the journey starts from home, not Southampton docks. A realistic, but optimistic appraisal of where you are now, where your current momentum is taking you, and what resources you have to hand are critical to building a solid achievable strategy.

5. Nothing is forever

A strategy is a plan, just a wide ranging and high level one. Plans can flex, change, adapt and ultimately be binned and replaced with a new one. Same for your strategy, so don’t

assume it’s engraved in stone. Give it time, and allow your operations and activities put in place to carry out your strategy to flex and adapt as they encounter the complications of real life. If you genuinely feel like your strategy isn’t working, don’t be afraid to revisit it and consider changing.

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