Business strategy


The challenge

A business needs a clearly-articulated strategy in order to attract funding, to focus resources and to align the efforts of all staff.

The solutions

Set a clear target

  • Adopt a planning horizon (perhaps three years).
  • Describe in one or two sentences what you want the business to look like in three years (with financial or other targets as appropriate).
  • Develop this from a realistic analysis of your market, competition and the opportunities and threats facing the business.

Identify ‘critical success factors'

  • Identify four or five factors that are supremely important if you are to achieve your three-year aim (what does success really hinge on?).
  • Describe each of these in a sentence or two.
  • Specify targets and measures for each factor that you will use to indicate that you are on-course over the next three years.

Specify priorities

  • Against each success factor, identify tactics for year one (important actions that will ensure success).
  • Clarify responsibility for each tactic.
  • Consider things that could go wrong and include tactics that will reduce or manage these risks.

Develop the strategy as a team

  • Strategy development in this way benefits greatly from the active involvement of your senior team, yielding additional ideas and insights.
  • The process develops and spreads detailed understanding and this reduces the risk of over-reliance on any one person.
  • Try to capture the key points onto a single page (distillation of the thinking can force the team to recognise what is really important).

Implementation is everything

  • A well-developed strategy achieves nothing without effective implementation.
  • Use the strategy to set personal objectives and to ensure that critical success factors are properly managed.
  • Allocate time at management meetings to ensure that the big picture is not forgotten. Change plans and priorities if circumstances dictate this.
  • Build a sense of direction and energy by communicating the strategy clearly.
  • Celebrate achievements frequently (little and often).

By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. This briefing does not constitute advice nor a recommendation relating to the acquisition or disposal of investments. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.

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