Perhaps one of the most used but underutilized terms in business is strategy. Add to the word planning, and the phrase tops the chart of importance in business success. It seems so simple and is unarguably a truly great example of common sense. Knowing where you want to go, mapping out a route and preparing to overcome the inevitable obstructions that may impede your progress along the way, seems like a true “no-brainer.” Having a clear vision is critical to starting and growing a business and while many celebrate the importance of the visionary in the start-up process, developing a clear and concise strategic plan to map the road to business growth and sustainability is often the most under-engaged promise. The fact that 50 percent of all new business ventures fail within the first three to five years is a testament of many of those businesses adhering to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland fantasy strategy: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
“While most business owners agree that strategic planning can provide a roadmap to drive their business growth, long-term survival and profitability, many fail to devote the necessary time, energy and resources to do it right, if at all.” Taking the time and making the investment to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for success involves establishing your value proposition; identifying and focusing on a market of customers; establishing a mission; setting forth a goal; enumerating your objectives; engaging the plan of action; measuring its progress and adjusting the plan along the way to address changes to original assumptions.
In this fast paced, technology driven world of commerce, competition is agile and refined, and the marketplace dynamic. While change has always been inevitable, today change is occurring at warp speed. Staying focused and tuned into the competitive environment is critical to survival and sustainability. Look to your competition to define what they are doing right, emulate their most successful actions and focus your strengths on doing those things your competition is unable or unwilling to do to meet the expectations of a new tech savvy consumer. The more specific the plan, the more likely it will be successful.
Many new ventures freely invest in infrastructure and tools of production. Far too few invest in the human talent necessary to meet the demands of growth. Some organizations fail to hire qualified employees to connect directly with their customers. The strategy should be to acquire people who are motivated and inspired to share the organization’s vision and who are dedicated to follow the path to accomplishment. Imagine if a restaurant were to purchase top of the line equipment but hesitate to effectively invest in the culinary and hospitality talent needed to produce an appetizing experience for customers. Don’t go cheap on attracting and inspiring the talent necessary to transition your vision into a reality.
A strategic plan should be a living, well-worn document. Its focus should be on where you want the business to be over time. Establish short term benchmarks of progress every 12 months to 24 months and long term, five year goals. Be proactive; evaluate the strategies’ effectiveness over time. Support those efforts that are working and abandon those that fall short. Anticipate the failures, they are inevitable. Expecting them will make it easier to offset the negative impact they have on achieving the vision. Be mindful that there are forces in the business world that are beyond our control that may derail even the most insightful plan. Don’t overreact and make major changes based on any one day, month or quarter of events. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Never forget that the competition is always watching your progress and maneuvering to obstruct your mission.
In a recent Inc. Magazine/Kauffman Foundation study, researchers found that five to eight years after appearing on the list, roughly two-thirds of the companies that made the Inc. 5000 list had shrunk in size, gone out of business, or been disadvantageously sold. Resolve not to be one of them.
To learn more about preparing a strategy that seeks to innovate product offerings and processes and take advantage of new opportunities to grow and sustain viability, profitability and long term growth, contact the experienced team of business development specialists at Junction Creative Solutions at 678.686.1125.