Strategy — a word that can intimidate the noblest of business people. It may sound like something you’re not ready to think about or invest time in, after all, every day is “survival day” for you trying to succeed as an entrepreneur. The reality is, though, that every day that you don’t have a strategy, is a day lost that could have led you to a safer road towards sustainable competitive advantage.
Some of you may have read and enjoyed my article on starting a new business. The principles taught by Michael Porter who is a business pioneer and teaches strategic management to nations worldwide can also be applied to established businesses. During an interview, Michael Porter expressed his sadness over the misinformation on strategy formulation. I encourage everyone to take some time to read more about this enlightening interview. If you have only a few minutes, here are three steps necessary for strategic planning and management.
1. Formulation – The first stage requires much research, questions, involvement of anyone who contributes towards your business (employees, vendors, suppliers, clients, etc.), environmental scanning (external research), and yes, analyzing competition activities. As you do your research, think about your business mission and vision. Don’t have one? This is a perfect time to put together these two statements that tells everyone, including yourself, why you are in business and where you want to be years from now. This stage should allow you to put a plan in place that will become your guiding light for the next 5 years or so. Your strategic plan should have established goals and objectives for your business, like “become a low-cost provider” or “provide best-in-class service”. Lastly, ensure you get everyone involved to obtain an honest assessment of your business.
2. Implementation – Research shows that only a small percentage of business strategies get implemented. After all of the work you will put in to get a strategy together, why would you just put it on a shelf?! Success happens when you follow through with your objectives and action plans so implement your strategy! You can start small like a discount program for customers or an e-mail schedule for customer engagement.
3. Evaluate – You will not know if you have succeeded with your strategy if you don’t evaluate the results. Make sure you track activities throughout the implementation period to capture successes or failures. Sent out customer coupons by email for a year? Compare sales from this year to last and see if they have increased or decreased. If you have not obtained the results you hoped, go back to your strategic plan, make changes, and try again.
To read more on these steps, please visit QuickMBA.com; this is a great site that can help with many business topics. Success only comes by trying, making mistakes, and sticking it out. No one said it was going to be easy bu the rewards will show you how much it’s worth it.
Stefany Pina is the Founder & Consultant at SE Global Business Group, LLC, a firm specializing in small business consulting providing you with everyday solutions to your current business issues. Learn more about Stefany at http://about.me/stefany.pina or about her business at www.seglobalbiz.com.