Business Strategy Services

Nearly all businesses today recognise the importance of having a clear corporate strategy. Such a strategy can make the difference between corporate success and failure. There are many ‘acorn to oak’ success stories of major corporations who, having developed a winning strategy, are achieving considerable success. We will work with you in formatting and seeing through your strategy. 

There is ample literature on the necessity of a successful strategy and the results it can achieve. It is less clear what the best approach is to develop a successful strategy that accurately prioritises what is desirable for the business to achieve with what it is capable of achieving within a realistic timeframe.

For a strategy to be successful it needs to be much more than the shareholders’ vision for the business. It must be a clear way forward, a plan and a series of actions that the business can deliver.  These should be measured in order to determine its success.

We have worked with many clients’ to develop, measure and challenge their strategy for success and we have seen, particularly in the case of owner-managed and family businesses, there are some key steps that successful businesses follow when developing and measuring their business strategy. It is these businesses that tend to have a more clearly defined and ultimately successful business strategy. 

Board Room Strategy
  1. Take time out of the business twice a year to critically review the direction and strategy of the business. Given the hectic schedule of most owner-managers and the multiple demands on their time, it can be difficult to take time out. However, it is critical to take the time to consider the long term development and purpose of the business and to ensure that the businesses strategy is up to date and relevant to the direction the business is actually travelling in.
  2. Involve as many relevant people as possible in the strategy development process. A strategy is at its most effective when both the shareholders and management of the business buy into it and are part of its development. It is crucial to try and involve as many people who have an influence on the business (stakeholders) in the process of strategy development for the following key reasons: 
    • Not everyone sees the same potential or problems in a business. Other stakeholders can often provide an insight into the business that the individual owner-manager can miss;
    • External advisors such as accountants or the bank see the business in a more objective light than an owner-manager and their management team. They can provide broader insights from other industries they have knowledge of;
    • By giving all stakeholders parts in strategy development at an early stage any objections or obvious mistakes can be more easily discovered and challenged. Thus the likelihood of a more effective strategy being developed is increased.
  3. When developing and reviewing the business strategy, take a structured approach so the key team members of the business are sitting together in a hotel, away from the office, with their mobiles and laptops switched off to develop the strategy for the business, what next?

    We have found that the most effective way to ensure that any time away from the business is as productive as possible it is important to take a structured approach as follows:

    • Create an environment that allows every participant to say what they think without fear of ridicule or being ignored;
    • Consider using a facilitator to run the meeting, to challenge key assumptions made within the business which may not be as appropriate as once they were;
    • Create an overall agenda for the meeting that covers defining the overall goals of the business, its current market position, its core competencies and weaknesses, the opportunities and challenges the business faces and the key objectives it must achieve to meet its overall goals;
    • Record all ideas and comments and investigate alternative ideas in detail ensuring every participant has a chance to be heard;
    • Having established the key objectives of the business, develop an action plan of necessary actions within a timeframe to achieve each objective
  4. Once action plans have been created make sure to capture them in a formal document. It is too easy once these sessions are complete to congratulate each other on the success of the day and then to go back and do the same things as before. The strategy and the actions created from it can only be successful if a formal document summarising the actions necessary and the persons responsible are created and distributed to all key stakeholders in the business. Without this document, the strategy remains intangible and nebulous. With it, the strategy becomes a defining part of the business for it to be measured against over time.
  5. Ensure that the success of the strategy is measured and if necessary updated over time. Once a document has been completed the key stakeholders in the business need to meet every six months to review and measure the success of the strategy. Over that time the dynamics of the business or its markets may or may not have changed but in any event, it is important that the progress of the actions plans developed is measured in an objective way against previous expectations and if necessary the overall strategy revised.

In summary, there are several key steps that successful owner managed businesses seem to take when it comes to the development of their business strategy. These steps as described above tend to lead to increased success in their chosen market places and thus improved financial performance.

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