Planning a good business strategy: The first step to success
If you want to embark on a new entrepreneurial adventure you must know that the achievement of success inevitably involves planning a correct and effective business strategy. After all, the famous artist Pablo Picasso also said:
“Our goals can only be achieved through good planning, in which we absolutely must believe and on which we must act”.
While it is true (and it is) that planning a good business strategy is the first step towards success, so is another tip: before you start moving, it is essential that you know what to do and where to go.
Let’s clarify immediately, defining, in more concrete terms, the concept of corporate strategy: we mean a system of decisions on the resources to be used and the actions to be performed in the production, administrative, financial, organizational and commercial fields in order to achieve the company’s strategic fixed objectives.
To plan your business growth strategies, you start from your short, medium and long-term goals: the mission and vision trace the route to follow to achieve them.
Define the mission, vision and goals (short, medium and long term)
Defining your mission and your vision , as just mentioned, allows you to identify your short, medium and long-term goals and the best way to achieve them.
Pay attention to the difference between mission and corporate vision: the latter can be briefly defined as what the company wants to become in the future. Ambitions and dreams guide the birth of every new business venture, but they also define the aspect that the business will take on in the future (or, better said, that it intends to take on in the future).
If the corporate vision is projected towards the future, the corporate mission belongs, instead, to a more concrete dimension linked to the present: it, in fact, defines what the company does and why it does it, translating ambitions and dreams into concrete operations. which contributed to defining the vision of the company.
Ambitions and dreams are very personal aspects, but the definition of a company’s mission, vision and goals follows precise rules, which apply more or less universally to every business project.
You don’t have to be afraid to aim for ambitious goals, but make sure you never lose touch with reality. Remember, then, to define a time horizon for your goals. Focus your attention on the Unique Value Proposition, that is, on that element that makes your company unique and special and make sure that what you offer responds precisely to what you promise.
Long-term goals can be:
- profitability goals (to produce wealth);
- development goals (to expand the business);
- leadership goals (achieving or consolidating a leading position in a specific sector);
- social goals (achieving goals in favor of the community);
- goals of balanced financial structure.
Having clear ideas about your short, medium and long-term goals allows you to establish an adequate budget, to better build the work team and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the product or service you offer. To make the right decisions, it is essential to have clear ideas about company values: a very useful tool in this regard is the “declaration of values“, which you will have to share with your entire work team (but also outside the company ).
Market analysis (SWOT)
You may have already heard of SWOT analysis: it is a valuable tool that can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business, but also the opportunities and threats related to the market. Not surprisingly, SWOT stands for Strenght, Weakness, Opportunity, Threaths.
Among the strengths you have to take into consideration, first of all, the positioning of your company and your competitive advantage, while for weaknesses we mean, for example, the possible shortcomings in the availability of funds or in personnel with regard to some specific skills , but also those related to the saturation of the market in which it operates.
You must be good at seizing all the opportunities that the market offers you: the fall of a leading brand in the sector, the opening of new commercial spaces and legislative changes are just a few examples.
Finally, pay close attention to threats: how likely is it that your products or services will actually be purchased? And at what price? How are your direct competitors moving? Could the legislative changes mentioned above represent a new obstacle to your business?
Who is my target customer
Identifying your target audience helps you understand what your customers really want and how you can successfully reach them. The mistake that many make, in this phase of corporate strategic planning, is to try to be as generic as possible, in the belief that in this way they can attract a wider audience of customers. Keep this temptation away and try to be, instead, very specific in identifying your target customer, because it is what will allow you to better evaluate if and how your goals can be achieved.
First of all, take into account the type of your business: for a B2C (Business to Consumer) company, the definition of the typical customer must focus on parameters such as age, sex, family, income and lifestyle, while for a B2B business (Business to Business) attention should be paid to aspects such as the sector of expertise and the level of technology and innovation.
Map the path that the consumer takes when purchasing the product or service and identifies any doubts and obstacles: only in this way can you customize it to the best of your needs and wishes. Not only that: it also helps you understand the most effective touchpoints at each stage of the buying process.
What differentiates me from my competitors
Concentrate on the purchase motivation that drives the behavior of your typical customer and focus on the way in which he is already dealing with the problem you are proposing to solve. The goal is to identify why he should choose your product or service and make him happy (and satisfied) by investing his money with you. Remember: the very organization of your company depends on the sales process that you will identify as the best to reach your target customer.
Since you have to find a good reason for the customer to choose you and not your competitor, you must also understand how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.
The first step is to analyze the market and identify the weaknesses in your competitors’ offer. Focus your attention on things that are not easily available on the market: propose products or services that are not easily available and difficult to replicate by your competitors, offer additional services compared to your competitors and identify a niche small enough not to arouse the attention of brands larger than you but big enough to be profitable for you.
If you do not have the possibility to offer your potential customers a lower price than that of competitors, you can (indeed, must) focus on other aspects such as the quality of your products and their uniqueness or the service you guarantee.
Why should a prospect buy my products/services
The price and quality of your products (but also their uniqueness), as just mentioned, are just some of the aspects that you must take into consideration when drawing up your strategic business plans: focus, in particular, on the service offered to your customers.
It is above all here, in fact, that you can really make a difference compared to competing companies, attracting prospects and retaining your customers in the best possible way. How? By offering a personalized service, making the purchasing process a pleasant experience, offering flexible terms (such as, for example, the possibility of paying in installments) and developing an effective after-sales service.
Remember: a satisfied customer is a customer who probably returns to make purchases and who, thanks to positive word of mouth, promotes your company for free in his circle of contacts.
Once you’ve completed your strategic business decision analysis, it’s time to prioritize the tactics you need to implement to make your plan concrete. While the strategies refer to a theoretical plane, the techniques, in fact, represent the way in which they must be translated into reality.
As already underlined, before taking the first steps it is essential to know which steps to take and in which direction: only a correct reflection on all the aspects mentioned allows you to have clear ideas on what to do, when and how.
Develop (or delegate) a marketing and communication strategy
Defining and implementing a marketing and communication strategy has a cost and making the wrong investments risks having serious repercussions both in strictly strategic and economic terms. If you have correctly identified your typical customer and defined the so-called customer journey point by point, developing your marketing and communication strategy will be easier for you.
Remember that the tools available to reach your target and persuade them to interact with your company are many and that each type and sector of activity is linked to different specific needs and to different channels and languages. Basically, there is no universally useful and effective tool.
You need to know what strategies and techniques to implement in the marketing and communication field and what budget to dedicate to these activities. Companies do not always have the necessary skills in-house: if this is your case, you should know who you can delegate this aspect to safely and effectively, but you will need to accurately assess the costs and feasibility of this operation.
Schedule (realistic) deadlines for necessary actions
Knowing what to do and assessing whether it can actually be done is as important as knowing when to do it. Basically, you must define a realistic deadline for each action, in order to better organize the activities of your company and make sure that what is planned is actually achievable on schedule, without overlapping and critical issues.
Measure the results and “correct the shot”
The control activity, as mentioned above, is essential: constantly measuring the results allows you to intervene in a timely manner, avoiding unpleasant surprises when it is too late to remedy them. By “intervening” we intend to modify the objectives and/or the strategies and techniques designed to achieve them. This control activity on the business strategy will allow you to always keep up with the times and to respond effectively to any possible internal or external change to your company.