As a business coach, the very first thing I get people to do when they sign up to work with me is create a business strategy. It always surprises me how many entrepreneurs coast along without one, wondering why big things aren’t happening for them yet…
It’s all in the strategy.
There’s actually a lot of confusion around what a business strategy is. Some think it’s the tactics you use to grow your business. Some think it’s a boring but necessary plan you put together in the early days of your business. Both are wrong.
Your business strategy is the roadmap that aligns every action you (and your team) take to your key goals and priorities. It’s a living, breathing document — much like your business — that evolves and grows as you do.
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” — Sun Tzu (Source: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-War-Sun-Tzu-ebook/dp/B0088DSO36/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549551945&sr=8-1&keywords=the+art+of+war)
The best part is that you don’t need to hire a consultant or book a whole day to get it done. I’m sharing my simple, smart, strategy framework right here, because I genuinely want to help you achieve everything you dream of. And that starts with focus.
How to design a flexible strategy that works for your business… in just 5 steps.
Step 1: Move forwards by looking back
You really want to end every year with knowing how you did, and knowing what you can do better over the next 12 months. (Source: https://fizzle.co/sparkline/end-year-review-planning-process-every-small-business-online-entrepreneur-follow)
Start by looking back at your last year of business results. What were you most proud of? What goals did you achieve? What were your most popular products or services? Which didn’t really sell that well? What marketing and sales activity worked well for you? Which didn’t?
And then, after reviewing each of your answers to those questions:
- What can you do differently to improve in the year ahead?
- Who do you need to become to reach your new goals?
- What beliefs or actions do you need to drop to reach those goals?
Step 2: Know your ideal paying customer
Create a picture of your ideal paying customer.
Write down everything you know about them, particularly what they look like before they buy from you, and after they’ve worked with you. In other words, the pain points they’re experiencing and the dream or desire they have.
If you’re still struggling to identify your ideal client, read this. (https://kimgarst.com/7-steps-to-identify-your-ideal-customer-or-client/)
Step 3: Create your brand
To quote influencer Neil Patel: “Nearly anyone willing to put in the time, effort, and build their niche can become a ‘thought leader’ who gets all of the traffic (and customers) in their space.” (source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/personal-branding/) It all boils down to designing a great personal brand.
Your brand is YOU, but so many small business owners hide behind outdated norms and fail to put real personality into their brand. I walk all of my masterminders through the following questions to help them overcome this:
- Why does your business exist for you? Why is that meaningful?
- Why does your business exist for your customers?
- What is your purpose, the high-level belief that underpins your business and puts fire in your belly?
- What is your vision, the thing you dream of achieving?
- What is your mission, the thing that you do in order to achieve your vision?
- What are the core values that filter into everything you do?
- What makes you unique? What makes people flock to you rather than to your competition? What are the benefits of this for your customers?
Step 4: Design offers that hit the spot
To map out your income target for the year, look at your operating costs, salaries (for you and for your team if you have one), tax and profit. I’m a big fan of using the Profit First model (https://profitfirstbook.com/) for my business, that’s why I always factor profit into my income planning.
When you have a clear figure in mind, you can create your product roadmap and get to grips with how many you need to sell to reach your target.
You’ve already written down your customers’ biggest problems or dreams, now think about your corresponding offers or solutions.
In the early days of business, most people try a few different offers. You need to get a feel for what products and services work for your customers AND for you. Once you get a good idea of this, you can double down on the offers that work well for you.
It’s great practice to have a handful of different offers at different price points, because different customers will come to you at different levels, no matter your niche.
Step 5: Build out your vision and goals
Start with your big vision and the personal goals you would love to achieve. The dream home, the traveling, the second home, the new car, the new school, the working less… Whatever you dream of for yourself and your family, note it down.
Next, think about the business goals you need to achieve to create the vision. What would you love to have achieved in 3 years time? What you need to have achieved in the next 12 months to move you towards achieving those 3 year goals? What do you need to achieve in the next 90 days to move you closer to those 1 year goals?
Your business strategy will drive all of your business activity, and your sales, marketing and operations plans should align with it to ensure you achieve all your goals.
When it comes to turning your strategy into an action plan, I recommend you read The 12 Week Year by Brain Moran (https://www.amazon.co.uk/12-Week-Year-Others-Months/dp/1118509234/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549552718&sr=8-1&keywords=12+week+year) — it’s the system I use myself to implement my aims and achieve my goals.