Today, I had the pleasure of spending time with an old business friend. It was great fun picking each others brains! A big chunk of our time was spent talking about a strategy for a business he has just bought, which he intends to grow substantially into new markets.
Naturally, I cannot tell you his business or the plan we agreed on. I will share the key points of the process which you can use to develop your own strategy!
So what is strategy in business?
In general, strategy is all about making clear choices about how best your business can compete. More importantly grow and win!!
Making your strategy real!
You must figure out what you have that gives you an advantage over your competitors. This is a key part on your road to winning. To get to this point you must talk with your team or trusted advisers. Open and frank dialogue is so important because you need to flush out issues, think and play around with ideas. This is not a place for yes men (and ladies) you need objections. You need people to get passionate about an idea. One thing it must never do is get personal!
When you have your meaningful advantage think over these questions:
Who are your competitors? Not just the big boys. Don’t forget the small ones, the new ones and the old ones.
What share of the market do each have? Locally? Globally?
Where do you fit in? Locally? Globally?
Is the business a commodity or high value? Or are you in the middle?
Where is the growth?
What are the drivers of profitability?
Your competitors strengths and weaknesses are?
Just how good are they? How good are their products?
What do they spend each year on R&D?
Do they have a big sales team?
Just who are your main customers? How do they buy?
Have they done anything in the past year to change the playing field?
What, if any, game changing products have been introduced or new technology or distribution?
Has anyone new entered your space? What are they doing?
What have you done in the last year to shake up the playing field?
What have you introduced in terms of products, new staff, licensing, new technology or have you acquired a new company?
Have you lost any of your advantages in the last year in terms of product, technology or even a great sales person?
Around the corner:
What scares you?
What can a competitor do so you lose significant market share?
What products could a competitor bring in which will change the playing field?
Could a merger or acquisition wipe you out?
What’s the ace up your sleeve?
What can you do to win in your market place in terms of new products, acquisitions or going global?
What can you do to make your customers stay with you?
These questions should be fun to work over with your team. It may take days, weeks but no more than a month! If you have a strategy already go over the questions making sure you have all the answers. If you do not have a strategy these questions will help you develop one.