Is Your Business Strategy Built For Long-Term Success?

Advice | Business Loans

Plan for success

The typical discourse on small business in Australia usually comes with vast stats on all of the businesses that ‘fail’.

But what sets businesses that succeed and thrive apart from the ones that stop trading or just keep their head above water? A smart business strategy for the long term can mean the difference between being a wannabe to being a doer.

Strategy is your friend

When you hear someone say the word ‘strategy’ and want to flee in panic? What does it really mean? Well, it’s  a plan for how you’re going to operate, why, and how you’ll reach your big goals.

Here are 6 key ingredients for a business strategy to make sure you’re around for the long haul:

  1. A vision for your business
  2. A value proposition
  3. Market research
  4. Smart goals
  5. Investment planning
  6. Evaluation and revision

1) Big idea

Planning your strategy is contingent on something broader and more exciting – your vision. Your vision is simply the ‘big idea’ of your business, it’s probably what got you inte. You may want to be the café of choice on Smith Street, grow from 1 to 2 plant nurseries, or expand your design company to take on bigger projects.

Your big idea helps you work back from there – what do you need to do to get there?

2) You’re special

Know your difference, know what makes you special. If you’re not clear on what sets you apart from your competitors, how will your customers know? Linked to the ‘big idea’ of your business, nailing down your value proposition is key to identifying your strategy to survive and thrive.

Maybe your focus is customer care, maybe your products are higher quality, or maybe you’ve found a niche that needs filling.

Survey your customers and staff members to understand what they value the most about your business. Do your research to better understand your identity and what sets you apart!

3) Market awareness

When you pin down exactly what it is that makes you special, it gets easier to understand who your audience is and tailor your products, services, marketing and brand image to suit.

There’s lots of ways to find out more about your audience – the simplest is to ask them. Ask your customers face to face, or come up with a short survey (and offer an incentive to complete it). Keep it anonymous, ask the tough questions and be prepared to take action on the results.

You also need to know what your competitors are doing. No one likes a copycat, but ideas are free. If someone is doing a smart promotion or adding a new service, take note of what works and think about how you could match it.

4) Goal kicker

Got your big idea? Have a good knowledge of who your audience is? Great, time to break that down into SMART goals.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Think ‘sell 20% more wedding cakes per quarter’ instead of ‘sell more cakes’.
  • Measurable: if you can’t measure it, how will you know if you’ve made a difference? Keep tabs on your cake sales and review regularly to see if your goal is on track.
  • Achievable: Dream big, but be realistic. If you’re a one-person operation right now, 73 wedding cakes a week isn’t feasible.
  • Relevant: if it doesn’t contribute to your business vision, rethink it. Thinking about becoming a celebrant? Great, but that’s not related to your cake sales goal.
  • Timely: the timeframe needs to work for you, your customers and your type of industry. To sell 20% more cakes, you need to think about marketing to get those bookings, managing your time and what times of year are likely to be busier.

5) Investment

Business growth often needs investment to thrive.

By being canny about your direction, what you offer and how you can grow your revenue, you can go into a loan or investment in your business with eyes wide open. If you know why you’re doing it and have a clear plan on how to get a return on the investment, that means your business is here to stay.

Not ready to invest? Try thinking about where you want to be in 5 years, or even one year, and work back from there to list exactly what you’d need to do to get there. If it’s not practical or achievable, rethink the long-term goal or the time frame, but don’t feel disheartened. Keeping a business going is a tough and amazing gig, and even thinking about strategy shows you’re taking it seriously.

6) Get help

Planning’s good… to a point. But not everyone’s plan will be identical. The plan needs to fit your specific business and be practical enough for you to implement, not gather dust on the shelf.

Schedule a set time to check in on your plan and SMART goals. If you’re not on track, or a new opportunity has come up you didn’t plan for, be flexible. Changing your plan is the only way to keep it relevant as your business grows.

You wouldn’t try to fix your own electrical faults (we hope), so apply the same approach to your planning. There are business coaches, business planners, financial planners and advisors that can help you pull your plan together, and keep it on track.

The long haul

If you find yourself getting excited about your long term strategic planning, well fantastic, that’s a good sign you’re on track, and you’ve got the plan, not just the motivation, to succeed.

Is investment part of your plan to succeed and grow? Let’s talk. Call Reckon Loans on 1300 901 570 or apply online for a small business loan.