Business Strategy

Having a business strategy sounds very grown up.  Do you really need one?

Well the reality is that, without one, your business will wander aimlessly.  We all have dreams for our business.  If you take these dreams, break them down into manageable targets and a plan for getting there (ideally with some accountability added) you are far more likely to achieve those dreams.

How do you go about putting together a strategy?

1. What do you want and why do you want it?

This is the dream!  It is your business – your life.  It’s not about comparing yourself to anyone else.  What do you want to achieve?  What are you willing to compromise to do this?  And why do you want it?  This last question is important as, when the going gets tough (which it will), it is useful to remind yourself why it is imperative to push on…

1. What do you want and why do you want it?

This is the dream!  It is your business – your life.  It’s not about comparing yourself to anyone else.  What do you want to achieve?  What are you willing to compromise to do this?  And why do you want it?  This last question is important as, when the going gets tough (which it will), it is useful to remind yourself why it is imperative to push on…

2. Specific Targets

Ok, so getting serious.  What does that dream mean in specific, measurable numbers?  If you want to create an income to live the life you want, what amount of money per year does that mean?  

This can then be broken down into an amount per month (taking into account holidays/other months where your income will be lower).  How many products or services do you need to sell to achieve this (taking into account your likely costs associated with this level)?  That number may seem scary initially but the idea is to grow from where you are now – it won’t happen overnight.

3. Blockers

We all have things that can stop us from achieving our goals and it is important to recognise them so you can do something about them.  Often it is our own limiting beliefs.  But it could also be money to invest in your business, specific skills issues, caring responsibilities, time, etc.  There are many examples of people who have overcome huge obstacles to build very successful businesses.  How are you going to address your blockers?

3. Blockers

We all have things that can stop us from achieving our goals and it is important to recognise them so you can do something about them.  Often it is our own limiting beliefs.  But it could also be money to invest in your business, specific skills issues, caring responsibilities, time, etc.  There are many examples of people who have overcome huge obstacles to build very successful businesses.  How are you going to address your blockers?

4. The Basics

There are lots of pieces which go into a successful strategy to increase sales.  You need to ensure you have:

  • the right product/service for your market, priced correctly
  • knowledge of the ideal customer you want to target
  • the systems in place to deliver efficiently the product/service
  • appropriate branding to appeal to that customer (by branding we mean the whole emotion you want your business to convey, the tone of voice, images, colours and fonts as well as a logo)
  • a website (or other means of selling) which converts visitors to customers
  • a marketing strategy

It is difficult to work on all of these simultaneously.  We are firm believers of doing one thing at a time (not something we always practice but we know it is the most effective thing to do!).  So deal with your weakest first and get it to the point where it is good enough before moving onto something else.  Over the course of a year you should look at all those items.

Marketing strategy should be looked at every 3 months to see what is working and what isn’t. We all like to think if we have a great product/service and do a good job, we will never be short of customers.  Unfortunately the world of business doesn’t work like that.  You can be “lucky” and get by with little marketing action or you can make your own luck…

Your marketing strategy needs to consider the most appropriate way to get your target audience to know about your product/services.  It also needs to get that target audience to know, like and trust you and ultimately convert them to buyers.  Concentrate on one channel first of all and put your heart and soul into it for 3 months.  If you aren’t getting any traction after 3 months then it may be time for a rethink – either the message or the channel is wrong (or both).

Break the area you need to work on down into lots of small, easier steps.  Completing a small step (eg plan your “About” page on your website) is much more satisfying than completing a part of a large task (eg redo your website).  Those small tasks will all add up.

6.  Set Time Aside

We divide our working days into 3 parts – what we refer to as the short term, medium term and the long term.  

The short term is building websites for existing clients – what we love doing.  We could spend all day doing this but, without investing in our business, this work would dry up.  

The medium term is meeting prospective clients, responding to their emails, following up, sending invoices etc. This will give us more work over 3 – 6 months.

The long term work is essential to grow the business.  This is working on our weaker areas and marketing the business.  It can be difficult to carve time out during the day to do this, but it is essential.  We usually do this first (or at least schedule time during the day to do it), otherwise we find we put it off (we’re humans!)…

Think about what will work for you, but make sure you put aside time every week to do the work to action your plan.  How else will you achieve those dreams?

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