In a report published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills it states that three quarters of small UK businesses report an ambition to grow. Interestingly amongst all the discussions held with the business owners it was common to find that ‘they saw no way forward and no viable alternative on particular issues’. Evidence was found that grouped together a ‘lack of faith that business improvements yielded demonstrable benefit’.
As a business leader you may often hear in varying circles about the importance of finding time to work ‘on’ as well as ‘in’ your business. It may be a challenge for you to see the value in strategic planning. If trading is steady, owners may be happy to keep it all in their heads, which also brings its own problems in terms of restricting growth if there is not a tendency to delegate.
Knowing in your own mind where you want to be in 3 years’ time is very different from having a considered, structured plan of how to get there; missed opportunities, lack of customer focus and understanding the market you are trading in can all trip up very successful business models. Playing catch up to a situation you might find yourself in through unplanned growth or a sudden change in the market leaves many businesses exposed and on the back foot. For a competitive edge it is always wise to be aware as much as possible of what scenarios lay ahead and what things should be in place to manage any unexpected occurrence.
A common myth holding small to medium sized enterprises back from adopting a strategic approach is that planning is only of use when the business has a definite objective in mind. Think of objectives as your ambitions. What do you want to achieve versus where you are now and what are the gaps? Working through the planning process will crystallise your focus and achievable objectives will be set, after all without them how will you ever know when you get to where you want to be?
Preparedness through planning is critical business, particularly in this uncertain and often volatile world we now live which can move at such pace. This does not mean missing out on chances to exploit unforeseen opportunities; having a sound strategy driving your actions can only strengthen the likelihood of making the most of lucrative deals when they do come along.
At nxo we work through an effective, proven planning process we call MAP with our clients;
- Where are you now?
- Mission and Values – what are you aiming to achieve and does the company culture fit the ambition?
- Insight – what is happening around? As mentioned above, are you prepared enough to react to market forces outside of your control? An opportunity to assess the internal influences and rituals that exist in your organisation.
- Differentiation – how and why are you different? What is your value proposition and how does it give you the edge in business?
- Segmentation – who are you working with and why, who do you want to work with. What are the gaps and how do we bridge them?
- Communication – how to say on-brand and engage your markets, delivering the right message consistently.
It is time to break the cycle of financial waste associated with reactive, sporadic communications which is geared around spend and hope rather than investing in preparation, planning and execution.
Invest time and resource today in planning, giving you and your team the direction, drive and impetus to perform to your full potential.
Marketing Director, nxo Ltd.