I often refer to a strategy as an umbrella over a business. As you launch into 2016, do you have a strategy that is truly protecting and nurturing the best interests of your company? I am so adamant about the need for business owners to truly understand the powerful impact a strategy can have on a business, that strategy and business planning have been the subject of my last three columns.
Your strategy should be the foundation from which you ensure sustainability and continued growth, as well as the overlaying guide for calculated decision making. Here's how you should be using your strategy like an umbrella:
1. Protects You From Poor Decisions: Too many business owners make decisions by the seat of their pants in a ready, fire, aim approach. Then they wonder why what they did didn’t work. A strategy serves as a source for solid decision-making. You can say no to a marketing tactic that isn't right for you because you are clear about who you are trying to reach and how they are best reached. You can clearly distinguish between a good investment in time or money and a poor one because you have analyzed your current situation, opportunities, operations, and done your due diligence.
2. Clarifies Most Important Next Steps: As stated in my previous columns, a good strategy is backed up by an action plan that is phased according to most immediate opportunities for return on investment and the longer term, so you know the next best steps to take. Like an umbrella that shields you from the immediate rainfall, your next steps are clearer to take. Instead of being overwhelmed by what is coming at you, you can focus on what is right in front of you to be done, knowing that an overall strategy is covering you all along the way.
3. Gives You Ability To Vision Ahead: A strategy not only helps you make better decisions, it also frees you from the day-to-day by making it clear to others in your company what needs to happen through the action plan and responsibilities that are defined. What this does for you is frees up your time to continue to vision ahead in a way that keeps the strategy moving forward in next-level fashion.
4. Repels Downpour of Opposition: The most critical part of a strategy is how you are truly differentiating your company from your competition. A solid strategy clearly defines with confidence, validation, and ongoing focus on your competitive advantage and how you are going to continually raise the bar in this regard every step of the way. When you know who you serve better than anyone else and then you prove it, competition is just something that you continually monitor, versus having to defend against. Your strategy literally repels competition away from your ideal target markets because they are so attracted to what you have to offer over others.
5. Shields You From Getting Financially Soaked: Almost every business owner has looked at money spent and felt like it was just thrown away with no value received. This is always a hard lesson as 99.9% of the time, it is because there was no strategy in place to help guide decision-making. As we all know, "Cash is King." A strategy also deals with operational aspects of the business to grow profits and efficiencies in a manner that enables you to invest and re-invest with true business acumen. Money spent will be based on calculated contingencies and tangible expectations with clear and measurable outcomes that are monitored and benchmarked.
With all the rain the Carolinas received over the months of 2015, it seems we have needed umbrellas in more ways than one. With a solid strategy in place, whether you are being showered with opportunities or challenges, it will help you confidently journey through any given situation with focus, confidence and fortitude.
Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.