• Donald Davis

Scaling Decisions – Strategy (Part 2)

In scaling up an organization there are four decisions a startup leader must address: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash (Harnish, Verne). Most of the time, when companies do not scale, one of these four issues has gotten out of hand. Most frequently, organizations stall simply because they have run out of gas. You can run out of energy in any one of the four areas but in this second post in the series, I am going to focus on “Strategy”.

What is a Strategy?

A strategy, by definition, is “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a period of time” How do you determine your strategy? How does it help companies scale up successfully? How to execute the strategy? Key items to look out for. These are some questions I will try to answer in this post.

How do you determine your strategy?

There are many different ways to develop your business strategy. Overall there are three main components: Vision, Competitive Advantage and Targets.

Vision

Creating a vision is one of the most important things in any business, but not many people know how to create a vision that will work for their company. How do you keep everyone on the same page while still having some flexibility? How do you come up with an idea so good, it will work no matter what happens in your industry? How can you communicate this vision so it resonates with employees and potential customers alike?

It’s actually quite easy to build a strong vision once you understand some key concepts.

  1. Project 5-10 years in the future what success would look like.

  2. Use present tense, clear, concise, jargon-free language.

  3. Make it passionate and inspiring.

  4. Align to your business values and goals.

Your vision must be communicated across the organization. It does not need to be set in stone but leaders need to be careful about how often it is changed or adjusted.

Competitive Advantage

For this part of the strategic plan, you are going to have to do some research about your competition. Porter’s five forces model provides a solid structure for analyzing your competition:

Objectives of Porter’s Five Forces

  1. Identify what factors shape the characters of competition within an industry.

  2. Assess and manage the long-term attractiveness of an industry.

  3. Assess the structural attractiveness of the analyzed industry.

  4. Explain the relationship between the five dynamic forces that affect an industry’s performance.

The Components of Porter’s Five Forces are:

  1. Threat of New Entrants

  2. Threat of Substitutes

  3. Bargaining of Buying Power

  4. Bargaining Power of Suppliers

  5. Rivalry Among Existing Competitors

We have found that the best way to capture a competitive advantage is by doing what your competitors aren’t willing or able to do. This gives you an edge over them and allows you to stand out from the crowd. The key is knowing how and where this potential exists in your industry, then focusing on it as much as possible. You want to be aware of all opportunities that exist within your niche, even if they seem too good be true at first glance because chances are someone else will take them before you know it!

Targets

You will now have a better sense of your target focus areas as a result of the preceding analysis. You have identified your vision and the overall competitive landscape and now need to develop a measurable plan for the execution of your strategy.

Key questions to ask here are:

  1. When the strategy is implemented what are things that we can measure along the way? (i.e. Revenue, Cost)

  2. Starting at the highest level can the team break down individual contributing actions that need to be accomplished to achieve the strategy?

  3. What infrastructure, human resources, technology, etc. will need to be in place?

  4. Are there initiatives, programs, projects, and deliverables that are needed?

Conclusion

Your business strategy is the backbone of your company. It helps you define what type of product or service you want to provide, who will be your target customer, and how you are going to market it. If none of these questions sound familiar then now may be a good time for you to take some time off from trying to run your company without a clear vision and start considering how best to make sure that this year’s revenue numbers exceed last year’s. Creating an effective business strategy doesn’t have to mean hours upon hours of work; in fact, most people can create their own successful plan in less than a week. Get started today.

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