By Helen Holman – Senior Corporate Finance Manager
Who gets excited about the prospect of sitting down and writing a strategy?
If you’re looking downwards and avoiding eye contact – the answers probably “not I”!
Who worries about the future of your business and your own finances?
I suspect that most of us lose a little sleep over the future, be it retirement plans, funding growth of the business, dealing with aggressive competitor pricing, handing the business on to the next generation, getting the buzz back in the business, getting your energy back for the business, dealing with under performance, dealing with a dissatisfied customer, getting the right team, exiting a shareholder…
…I could go on.
If we can agree that we all have worries about the future of our businesses, surely it’s worth taking some time to make a plan.
I’m not talking about a lengthy process. For entrepreneurs a strategy or plan needs to be short, action orientated, visual, motivating and intuitive. There does need to be research and thought in preparing it, but it doesn’t need to be a long, word heavy document which never sees the light of day.
Some of the questions you should be asking are, do you know:
- What you want to achieve – both for the business and yourself – WHAT DOES GOOD LOOK LIKE in 5 years time? Visualise!
- Who you admire in your industry / sector, what are they doing well?
- What your customers are saying about you? if you don’t know – ASK
Getting the Right Strategy
- Gives you direction
- Engages stakeholders (employees, shareholders, banks)
- Draws out your competitive advantage
- Shows you how your business relates to the broader environment.
For entrepreneurial businesses the challenge is that the business owner and their business are inherently linked, the plans for the business and the plans of the business owner. This makes the process tougher because the considerations are more ‘grey’ than black or white.
BUT getting the right plan in place can be wildly liberating and set you on a path towards achieving your goals.
The Benefits of a Strategy
On a day to day basis a robust strategy enables you to:
- Keeps your business on track
- Is a clear reference point for decision making, helping you make better, more prioritised decisions
- Motivates employees – so long as they understand the strategy – and you will be able to delegate more to them
- Helps you to understand how decisions impact other areas of the business
- Financial performance and cash flows are better planned and controlled
- Stakeholders (shareholders, customers, suppliers, finance providers) will have greater confidence in the business
- You will sleep better knowing all of this has happened!
Inspire regularly supports entrepreneurial businesses in developing their strategy. If you would like to hear more about how we support entrepreneurial businesses and how we can help you, call us on 0800 077 6410.