Making your business the best it can be: where do you start?

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You are an entrepreneur and are looking to make your business the best it can be. But where do you start from? Unfortunately for you, there are many solutions available and many opinions on where to start. Free solutions often don’t work well enough (you’ve tried) and paid ones don’t seem to generate results fast enough or haven’t worked for you either (you’ve tried too).

I’ve seen it happen over and over again. As a leader in the business development space, I’ve seen companies try cookie cutter strategies after being told they needed to build an online presence, post more, focus on SEO, etc. Thousands of dollars later, they are usually in the same situation or worse than before. Others are told to engage some influencers, create organic content, etc. Some are told to involve some members of Team A to help them with sales, operations, HR, etc.

At the end of the day, these tips rarely prove fruitful. It’s not because none of these tactics are bad or unnecessary. It is because these tactics were not in line with each company’s specific strategy or because the company itself was not following a clear strategy. Therefore, these attempts to improve a company often fail.

A business strategy is the foundation that supports the decision making of ideas in any business. None of the most successful companies out there have come this way just by following trends or copying others, period. They had to have a clear strategy to guide their decision making.

My suggestion to you is to start with the basics – get your strategic planning right. If you can answer the following questions, then you are in a good position to get started. What does your business offer? Who are your customers? What advantages do you offer? What is your business trying to achieve? If not, first answer these questions clearly. This would be your company’s mission.

So, evaluate what you have done so far. Make a list of your business goals (i.e. goals) and see if they are within your ability or power to achieve them. Check if you are measuring success correctly. This is crucial to understand because sometimes we measure something important the wrong way. Make sure your goals are ongoing too, which means they are long-term and open-ended. Evaluate whether you are setting deadlines, budgets, and scope for each initiative you take to achieve your goals.

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So far, so good. You have successfully assessed your mission and goals. And now? The next step is something that most business leaders overlook, either because they don’t know how to do it right or because they don’t know how to use the information they get from it.

You need to look at what is affecting your business that is external to your company. This is your external analysis. Is something happening in your industry that can affect your business? If so, what is the level of threat to your business? By defining not only the threat but its level, you are better prepared to produce more reasonable goals as part of your strategic planning process in the last few steps.

Next, you will analyze your company – this is your internal analysis. You are trying to understand your strengths and weaknesses. I know you’ve heard this before. I’m using those familiar terms to take you to the next level of internal analysis. Ask yourself, what is something that you as a company do well, based on internal or external benchmarks? Is what you do precious, rare or expensive to imitate? It would be a strength of your company. Now ask yourself, is there something your company does that isn’t working? Or, is your company missing something that would help it significantly? These would be your weaknesses. Looking from the outside but from your business perspective, ask yourself: Are there any industry trends that can harm your business or be exploited by them? These are your threats and your opportunities respectively.

This next part is crucial. You’ve analyzed a lot so far, but it hasn’t solved anything for you yet. Now you need to choose a strategy that matches your mission, strengths and opportunities in your industry. Your approach should take advantage of everything you have to offer. There are several types of business strategies. Some are cost leadership, differentiation, technology leadership, economies of scale, or focus strategies, which are the strategies I just mentioned but applied to niche markets.

Finally, after completing the analyzes and choosing a sensible strategy (based on the results of the analyzes), it is necessary to create new objectives that are in line with the mission and business strategy just analyzed and improved. A tip here for your success: Make sure you use the information from the goal analysis you performed earlier to produce better ones.

All of these tips may seem unrelated to your current business problems, but a clear strategy guides the hiring. You wouldn’t hire someone who is a print media expert if you realize your business has the opportunity to thrive online more than anything else, would you? You would be able to sift through the services that are offered to you by looking at your goals and deciding which of these service offerings would make good initiatives to achieve your goals. The list is endless.

If you are looking to improve your business, have already tried many things and are wondering where to start, I recommend that you start by doing your strategic planning well. Your company, your family, your employees and your business partners will thank you.

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