When setting out on a new venture or business idea, so many businesses do not succeed. This could be down to a combination of factors. Yet, one common factor is the challenges associated with executing the idea and establishing it in the market.
To ensure your idea or business has the best start, or if you are reviewing current plans and progress, you must first develop an effective business strategy to support you. To help, here are five steps to guide you.
- Build up your data and knowledge
- Build Your Vision and Mission Statement
- Define your Strategy and Tactical Plans
- Track and Manage Performance
- Execute, Learn and Review
To know where you want to go is first to understand where you are today. The best way to do this is to investigate the past. This could be through data from your market, so you understand the size of the opportunity at stake. Investigate the total market size, the number of potential customers, and the growth rates of similar projects. Using the SWOT framework helps you identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, both internally and externally.
You might want to use the PESTLE model to explore deeper into external factors that may affect your business. This looks into the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental aspects of your business and market. It is key to make sure you involve the right people in this process to help you build up your data and knowledge.
Once you understand the market, begin to narrow down your idea, exploring the unique business problem you are looking to solve, and the market opportunity associated to it.
Your vision should be used to describe the future direction of the business and its aims in the medium to long term. It’s about describing your organisation’s purpose and values. This should be built in parallel to your mission statement, which defines the organisation’s purpose and outlines its primary objectives.
In simple terms, organisations summarise their goals and objectives in mission and vision statements. These serve different purposes but are often confused with each other. While a mission statement describes what a company wants to do now, a vision statement outlines what a company wants to be in the future.
The mission statement focuses on what needs to be done in the short term to realise the long-term vision. So, for the vision statement, you are asking where do you want to be in three to five years’ time. The mission statement, alternatively, asks: what do we do? how do we do it? for whom do we do it? what value do we bring?
Amazon’s Corporate Vision Statement: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Google’s Corporate Mission Statement: “To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
At this stage, the aim is to develop a set of high-level objectives for all areas of the business. These need to highlight the priorities and inform the plans that will ensure delivery of the company’s vision and mission. By reviewing your work in step one across the SWOT and PESTLE analyses, you can layer these into your SMART Objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related).
Your objectives must also include factors such as KPI’s, resource allocation, and budget requirements. It is key to align your resources and structure according to the strategy, so to clarify everyone’s role and accountability.
All the planning and hard work may have been done, but it’s vital to review continuously all objectives and action plans – to ensure you’re still on track to achieve that overall goal. Managing and monitoring a whole strategy is a complex task, which is why many directors, managers and business leaders are looking to alternative methods of handling strategies. Creating, managing and reviewing a strategy requires you to capture the relevant information, break down large chunks of information, plan, prioritise, and have a clear strategic vision.
Firstly, execute your business strategy with excellence and, throughout, capture learning so that it can be reapplied or used to adjust the plan if necessary. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, but make sure each mistake is an opportunity to apply learning to the strategy. Executing at the highest level is key: anyone can have a good idea, but those who can execute make a lesser idea into a successful business.
Remember always to celebrate your team and business successes. It can be quite easy to get dragged into the here-and-now and forget to reflect on the great achievements of the organisation.