Why You Need Strategy And How To Think About It

Originally published on One Uproar

I’ve been asked many times how long does it take to create a strategy? This question always makes me chuckle because I am a results oriented person – one who doesn’t “waste” time on “thinking” and gets things done. It is a common subject when I talk about the importance of  strategy and planning. Most executives and business owners think about strategy as a solution rather than a vision or innovation. Entrepreneurs think by the time the right strategy and plan are formulated they’ve missed an important business opportunity.

You must give yourself permission to innovate—to think ahead. Tim Brown of IDEO talks about innovation and how it relates to a sense of purpose. Innovation and strategy are closely woven together.

Let’s get to the heart of it and talk strategy.

Why do I need a strategy? – Every business regardless of size, assets and competitive landscape needs a strategy. It is often rare to never that a business is one-of-a-kind, that it has no competition and is a leader in its’ space. Companies that fit in this category must also be strategic and plan. Regardless of where your company is, strategy is crucial to keeping your company ahead of the competition, maintaining an edge and knowing where you’re going.

How do I formulate a strategy? – A lot of business owners tell me they did not go to business school and they don’t know how to create a strategy. At the heart of any comprehensive strategy lies a good competitive analysis. One of the first things I do is analyze the competition. Once your competitive analysis is complete you’ll want to conduct a thorough market analysis. Establishing goals and objectives play an important role on how a company will succeed. Kathy Savitt, CEO and founder of Lockerz talks about measurement in her interview with Adam Bryant of the NY Times. There’s not an exact science to how strategy is formulated—everyone has their own approach. You must give yourself time and set realistic expectations. No one creates strategy and vision in a day or in a week.

I’ve got it–now what? – You, your team or a business consultant have now formulated the strategy—what do you do now? Before getting to a plan think ahead and map out where you want to be in 5 years and even in 10 years.

The  1/5/10 approach –Where do you want your company to be in one year? What about five years?  Ten years? Some business owners will counter we don’t know where we’ll be next week much less in 5 years. Regardless of how fast you’re growing, you should think about next year and the following year. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What will we accomplish this year vs. next year?
  • Who is our competition and what are they developing?
  • What unique products or services are we creating?
  • What is our unique proposition?
  • Who is our target? What are their buying habits?
  • Define your market. Is our product or service local, national or global?

I’ve only scratched the surface on questions you should ask yourself and how strategy is formulated. How should you think about strategy? Strategy is how you, as a business owner, are approaching your product or service. It’s the heart of your innovation and creativity as a business. It is your secret — your edge on the competition. Strategy is sometimes referred to as vision–it’s where you see your company going, progressing and moving ahead of the crowd. I’ll talk about how you can take your strategy and set goals and objectives in my next post.