Management consultant and winner of the BYPY Inspiring leader award Peter Rees-Steer explains why a clear business strategy has never been so important.
Companies are economising everywhere – especially in areas of discretionary spend but such cut backs may come back to haunt them when the recovery inevitably happens. One such area, which many SME’s ignore at the best of times, is business strategy.
Strategy isn’t as complicated as consultants and academics would often make out – especially not for a smaller organisation. But while many business owners will tell you that they “do” strategy, scratch the surface and even in normal economic circumstances insufficient time is spent in developing this area.
In reality, relatively little effort is required in developing a longer term business plan which identifies what the business does well, what makes it stand out from the competition, and what ongoing development needs to be done to keep ahead of the game.
Other key benefits include:
Understanding the business environment: A full appreciation of stakeholders (customers, suppliers, staff and others) can identify opportunities and threats not currently being addressed by the business. This is especially important for small businesses.
Saving management time: A clear understanding of the organisations purpose and how the people within it contribute towards the wider business plan goals can yield huge savings. People are the most precious resource in any organisation and concentrating on how they are managed will always make a business stronger.
Identifying strengths: Strategic business thinking enables the organisation to be aware of what it does well and be in a position to take advantage of future opportunities. Importantly, strategy development within a small business is a far easier proposition than in a large, complex organisation. It can be undertaken internally by a committed and focused management team and communicated and implemented with comparative ease.
However, the involvement of a specialist will always ensure that a robust process is set out. After all, few of us would risk drafting our own accounts or legal documents without seeking professional advice. Most practitioners will offer a free initial consultation, and with those specialising in working with SME’s, any subsequent costs are likely to be competitive.
As the saying goes, “when you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.” The challenge for every one of us seeking to drive our businesses and the wider regional economy out of the current recession, is knowing which road to take.