Somewhere around August each year, I remind as many businesswomen as I can about the importance of developing a business strategy for the New Year.
However, it can’t be done in just a few hours. It will take research, evaluation, setting new goals, preparing a cash flow, and more. The key here is that you must be proactive in preparing your strategy and block time in your calendar each day to work on and maximize its effectiveness.
A Strategic Plan is your blueprint or roadmap that will help you to accomplish your business vision and goals. It should be a real-time working plan that you follow and hold yourself and your team accountable to.
Preparing to Develop Your Strategy
Before you actually start writing out your strategy, you’ll need to do some pre-strategy work. First, schedule a block of uninterrupted time that you and/or your team will brainstorm and decide the new goals and changes that are needed to move your business forward.
Next, Make sure you compile the following items and have them easily available to review as you plan:
- Cash Flow or Balance Sheet or Checking account statements since January.
- Generate a report on your click-through ratio from your email marketing system
- Determine your leading products or services
- Identify which products or services didn’t sale
- What marketing campaigns didn’t work and which ones did
- How many new contacts opted-in to your free offers
- What are your average sales monthly?
- What improvements are needed?
- What needs to be eliminated?
- Any other information that will help you brainstorm and make decisions on the changes that are needed.
Questions to Answer About Your Business Performance:
- Company’s gross sales?
- Company’s net profit?
- How many leads has the company generated so far this year?
- What is the most effective marketing method?
- What is the least effective marketing method?
- Have business goals been implemented and accomplished?
- If no, provide what goals have not been accomplished and how has that impacted the company.
- Have you been consistent in communicating with those on your list?
- Are you effectively incorporating social media into your marketing
- (Consistent and branded posting, calls to action, live streams, etc.)
- Are you effectively incorporating video as part of building your authority and generating leads?
- (YouTube channel, live streams, webinars, etc.)
10 Ways to Develop An Effective Business Strategy
To get to where you want to be, you have to figure out where you are. So the first order of business is to evaluate where your business is currently. Review your past analysis of your business and determine what is working for your business and what habits or procedures need to be discontinued. When you do this you will have a clear view of the direction you need to go. Another major method of evaluating your business is to create your SWOT analysis.
2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique in which you gather information on your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will in turn determine your business’s competitiveness within your industry.
Strengths – This has to do with the areas in which you excel. What sets your business apart from your competitors?
Weaknesses – Here you will look into the reasons your business is not performing at its optimal level. Also, figure out the areas that you and your team need to improve on for efficiency.
Opportunities – External forces highly influence this factor. It gives your business a greater advantage/boost toward success. For example: if you run an e-commerce business and the exchange rate fell significantly for international customers, then your sale to the international customer would increase.
Threats – This takes into consideration factors that may harm or decrease productivity within your business. For example, a hurricane, rising costs for production, and increased competition.
Always write your Analysis and then determine actionable steps that can be taken to alleviate any distress that may be caused.
After doing the necessary analysis, it is now time to do deep research into your market and how to make your business better. You can look into other businesses and see how they got to where they are and gain ideas.
4. State your business vision for the New Year
Stating your business vision is taking a look into the future. Picture where you would want your business to be in the new year. Your vision includes what kind of business you want to be, the customers you want to attract, and the overall success you want to achieve
5. Set your sales goals
The first order of business is to set your target revenue. Often times it is good to have a base goal and then a stretch goal. Track your progress weekly or monthly to ensure that you are hitting small targets so that you will be able to attain your annual sales goals more quickly. However, always ensure that you are realistic with the sales goals you set.
6. Prepare a Cash Flow Analysis to determine the number of customers/clients needed and the cost of doing business.
This can sometimes feel like one of the most daunting tasks when creating your business strategy. However, it is really not that bad once you follow the basics.
- Identify all sources of income.
- Identify your business expenses
- Create your cash flow statement – this includes your operating activities ( income – expenses = profit), investing activities (funds spent on equipment, long-term assets, and stocks), and Financing activities (loan repayments and any other borrowed funds).
- Analyze your cash flow statement – Here you will be able to see all the funds that flow in and out of your business, as well as determine patterns.
7. List any new services/products
Once you have done the major components above, you can now determine if you would like to add new services or products to your business. Ensure that adding new products or services will increase the efficiency and sales of your business. Not just an additional expense to the business.
8. List your business goals
Separate from your sales goals, you must set the goals you wish to achieve for your overall business. This walks hand in hand with your business vision. Your business goal is the small actionable plans put in place to achieve your vision.
9. List the tasks necessary to support each goal
For each goal, you have set for your business, set actionable tasks with a timeframe attached to each. This is also where you will delegate certain tasks that you will need assistance with to complete.
10. Develop your marketing plan for supporting your services/products and your business goals.
A business will not flourish without a marketing plan. How will you create your brand and business awareness? Engage with customers via social media and run ads. It is also important to create email marketing and if you are unable to manage this on your own, hire someone to do it.
Time to Make Your Plan Actionable
After you have reviewed all the steps above, create actionable tasks to ensure the completion of your business strategy. This means that you should, create a to-do list of tasks with clear deadlines, set aside resources needed to complete these tasks, add them to your calendar, and follow up and delegate the tasks that you need help with. Remember that once preparation meets hard work you are setting yourself up for success. After all, success is the aim for all of us.