When it comes to building, growing, or scaling a business, strategy is critical. You need to understand where you want your business to go and how it will get there before you start making any move.
But sometimes strategic clarity can be hard to find, particularly when things are changing at a rapid pace, and there are multiple moving parts within the business to manage.
So let’s examine 10 steps that offer strategic clarity, including how to implement them and what the results should look like.
It starts with questions
Business strategy starts with questions which help unearth opportunity. And some of these might seem simple, but the reason for asking them is to get crystal clear on what you’re hoping to achieve and how you intend to get there.
1. What do we do?
This might seem a simple question, but often businesses fail to appreciate what they really do.
For example, you might be a real estate agent and the business involves selling houses. However, that’s not actually what an agent does; they help people transition from one life stage to the next.
When you know what you really do, it unearths opportunities to do that more effectively or in new ways.
2. Who do we serve?
Every business serves a specific set of customers. That’s their target market. But again, there’s often a lack of clarity about who these people are.
No business can serve everyone, so this is about getting crystal clear on who your current ideal client is, who you want them to be, and how you can serve them most effectively.
3. How are we different?
This question is an interesting one, and serves to define your Unique Selling Proposition.
It also helps you understand where you sit within your marketplace and how you are positioned in relation to your competitors while also determining your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Once answered, it helps determine your business objectives, including areas you can expand and build on to cater to your ideal customer in that ‘different’ way.
4. What more can we offer?
Once you know what you do, who your ideal customer is and where your point of difference lies, the next step in the strategic clarity journey involves asking ‘what more can we offer?’
Ideally, this will see you discover additional services or products that complement your existing business, or ways you can provide your service more effectively. It might also see you look at cost savings to become a cheaper alternative in order to achieve your strategic intent.
5. How can we simplify?
Strategic clarity isn’t just about adding additional products, services or steps into a business. It also involves simplifying and streamlining where possible. This begs the question, how can you simplify the steps involved in providing the product or service you offer?
Is there potential for streamlining or greater efficiency while still achieving your business objective? And if so, how will that be achieved and what benefits would it offer to the business or the customer?
6. What processes do we need?
To offer additional services and products or simplify your business, you need to consider the procedures and processes that occur behind the scenes.
Are there new procedures that will need to be introduced, or some that can be streamlined for greater efficiency?
7. Who is responsible?
For a strategy to become actionable, the tasks required to achieve the aim need to be assigned to people.
In other words, who will be responsible for implementing that strategy or components of it? When you assign responsibility for a planned outcome within a business, action can start occurring.
8. What resources are required?
Whether it’s technology, machinery, wholesale items, additional financial resources or more team members, often resources will be required during any strategic shift that is designed to create a specific business outcome.
To determine this, carefully consider the following question: ‘what would be needed for X to occur?’.
This gives you clarity about the financial resources and actions required to achieve the strategic objectives.
9. What should we measure?
As the old saying goes ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’, so work out the KPIs and key business metrics that need to be put in place to measure the progress and then success of any strategic goals you are looking to embrace.
10. What will success look like?
This question is critical and it factors in a number of elements. Firstly what will success look like in terms of increased revenue and the numbers of your business?
What will it look like in terms of customer satisfaction and repeat business? How should it impact your business performance? What will it also look like in terms of staff satisfaction and operational efficiency?
Each of these simple questions helps determine whether a strategic aim is worth achieving. It helps establish the KPIs and also sets the goal posts of success.