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The importance of a Business Strategy
by Paul Shaw

Strategy is important in business, right?

It forms the foundation of all that we, as business owners, build our enterprises upon.

Strategy help us define our business, gives it a set of values, and gives it purpose. It helps us understand what success actually looks like.  It provides a roadmap for our business, shows us our destination and identifies useful stopping points along the way.

After all, who would set off on a journey without having some idea of where they were heading or how they would get there?

It’s surprising then that, according to a recent survey conducted by Barclays, a staggering 47% of small business owners have no formal strategy in place to support their business growth. Of that total, 25% have an informal, verbal business plan, whilst 23% have no plan whatsoever.

Why is a business strategy often forgotten?

Virtually every business owner I have met has some kind of business vision in their head, but it is often unstated, almost sub-conscious. Nevertheless, that core belief drives them to growth and achievement. In the early days this, along with boundless energy, enthusiasm and hard work, can be enough to deliver some initial success.

As time goes by and the business gets busier, many owners find that they simply don’t have the time to step back from the day-to-day to think about a long term strategy. Business planning becomes a luxury that they can’t afford.

The problem becomes compounded if sales dip, costs rise or competition bites. The business starts to suffer. Time is that most precious of commodities, that gets harder to spare. Every free moment is spent putting out fires. Many business owners come to feel like they’re on a ship without a rudder, being blown by the winds of fortune, with no control over where they might land. This can all be avoided.

Time for strategy

Most successful business owners that I have come across are successful precisely because they have spent some time out of their business. Thinking about strategy and developing a formal action plan.

They understand their values and the purpose of their business in their customers’ eyes. There’s a set of financial targets that they strive to achieve and they understand the means needed to achieve them. They know what risks they might be facing and they have a plan to minimise them – or even turn them into opportunities.

Most of all, they understand their unique point of difference. The thing that gives them a sustainable competitive edge, that makes them truly valuable to their core customer base. Because they know that, they know who their most valuable customers are and they know how to reach them.

Creating a business strategy is not difficult, but it does take a little time and focus to get right. It’s not always that easy when you’re busy running a business, especially when urgent meets important, urgent usually wins. I always advise business owners to try and make some time to step out of their business and think about what they really want to get from it.

Making the time is the first step. And I have never come across a business owner that has regretted taking it.

More information

At Business Doctors we can help you to take that step, with our business advice and support. By helping you plan ways to make more time to spend on your business rather than in your business. Working with you to build a strategy to grow your business and, crucially, to make it happen.

If you’d like to find out more, email paul.shaw@businessdoctors.co.uk, or call me on 07802 724279. Or click here to arrange a free business health check.

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