Finding your path to success: Adam Caplan
This follows on from last week’s blog ‘Do you have a Sales Plan?’ Let’s now look at the other side of that coin, ‘Strategic Planning’
Have you ever been on a team building event where they ask you to run, blindfolded through a field? It’s scary and dangerous and probably culminates in a painful tumble if you haven’t got someone to guide you. It is very exciting though. Perhaps the need for excitement is why so many businesses run their businesses without a structured strategy.
Do you have a practical approach to strategy development?
Strategic planning is often neglected by businesses. It may be due to time constraints, a lack of understanding of strategic planning or fear that the result will send their business in a different direction. Whatever the reason, the result is the same: An increased risk and likelihood of trading difficulty or business failure.
It doesn’t matter what size your business is, you should have a strategy. This doesn’t have to be a 60-page document. It can be as simple as outlining your Mission Statement, several SMART goals to follow and the 4-part Cellular Strategy Plan, that we’ll cover in this blog.
Not sure if you need a strategic plan? Well, look at these benefits of an effective strategy:
- Increased business resilience
- Improved profitability
- Larger market share
- Efficient and effective business operation
- Fully committed and engaged workforce
- Happier and more satisfied customer
Our 4-stage Cellular Strategy Plan requires answering these simple questions:
- Where are you now?
- Why are you here?
- Where are you going?
- How will you get there?
Before we look at building your strategy, let’s just spend a moment on your Mission Statement. Your mission statement should clearly communicate what it is you do. Be careful not to fall into the common traps so many businesses seem to wander into. Remember these points:
No more than 15 words long
No, absolutely NO jargon or acronyms
Clear, concise and relevant
Inspire, if you can avoid it morphing into a frankenstatement of part mission and part vision statements which always end up too long.
I really like these mission statements
TED – Spreading Ideas
ALIBABA GROUP – To make it easy to do business anywhere
LINKEDIN – To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
KICKSTARTER – To help bring creative projects to life
CHRYSLER – To produce cars and trucks that people will want to buy, will enjoy driving and will want to buy again
MICROSOFT – Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more
CELLULAR ATTITUDE – Sell More – Helping businesses grow positively
Simple, effective and outlines what the company is there for. Not details of how you do it, or even why you are doing. Just what your Mission is.
Planning your strategy
We start with the three key questions that we ask in Cellular Attitude
- Where are you now?
- Why are you here?
- Where are you going?
For strategic planning we add the bonus question:
- How will you get there?
Where are you now?
Where is your business now?
As you think about where your business is at this precise moment, review your original Mission Statement. Are you still following that ideal? Does your mission need revising because your business has changed, or have you strayed from the original plan and need to get back to that original ideal?
It is important to decide whether you want to change your mission or change your business back to the mission statement, it doesn’t matter either way, what matters is that the business and the mission are in alignment.
Once aligned or changed, you won’t need to revisit this often, just occasional checks to make sure you are, as the saying goes, ‘on mission’.
Do you have a clear understanding of the guiding principles of your business? These ‘values’ as they are often called are what you stand for and believe in. (Covered more in Why are You Here?)
You should review your strategic position regularly using a SWOT analysis (Strengths/ Weaknesses/ Opportunities/ Threats). These elements are as follows:
SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These elements are crucial in assessing your strategic position with your company. Build on your company’s strengths, reduce and shore up the weaknesses, maximise the opportunities, and identify the threats, with a plan to deal with them a very good idea!
If a shift is required, then you will need to look at what is happening internally and externally to determine how you need to shift or change.
Why are you here?
What do you and your business stand for? What do you believe in? Why are you doing this?
For example, in Cellular Attitude our guiding principles are as follows:
We want every business to achieve the best sales results possible. We seek to improve business processes, train management and staff to achieve the best sales results possible, to help companies explore new unique avenues to generate more customers that stay happier longer leading to lasting relationships, delivering actual improvements to the bottom line
The values guide your company as it goes around its daily business. What are the core values and beliefs of your company? What values and beliefs guide your daily interactions? What are you and your people really committed to?
Everyone should know these inside and out.
If you don’t have this written down and clearly understood by your entire business, it is important to do so. Indeed, if your staff are going to benefit from this, shouldn’t you also share this with your customers? Have your Mission Statement and Guiding Principles on your website and available for all to see at your offices.
Please note that generally one doesn’t state ‘to make a lot of money’ as their guiding principle. For a commercial business, it’s a given that you should operate profitably.
Where are you going?
This can be tricky to visualise for many companies. To help you answer this, other questions such as ‘What will the company look like in 5 to 10 years, the future?’, “Where are we headed?’ “What is the future I want to create for my company?’ The future is notoriously difficult to predict, which means you can enjoy imagining what it may look like.
There are two elements that can help you define the future for your business:
- Do you have a sustainable competitive advantage? A sustainable competitive advantage explains what you are best at compared to your competitors. Strive to create an advantage that continues to be competitive in the long term. What can your company be best at? What is your uniqueness? What can your company potentially do better than any other?
- Do you have a vision statement: Your vision is formulating a picture of what your company’s future composition will be and where it is going? What will your company look like in 5 to 10 years from now?
How will you get there?
Here is the roadmap for your company and it’s the most time-consuming part of the strategic planning.
Knowing how you’ll reach your vision is the meat of your strategic plan, but it’s also the most time consuming. The reason it takes so much time to develop is because there are several routes from your current position to your vision. Picking the right one determines how quickly or slowly you get to your destination.
Your roadmap (which is what this plan is, a route to follow to get to your destinations) should have the following pasts:
- Strategic objectives: Strategic objectives are long-term, continuous strategic areas that help you connect your mission to your vision. These objectives encompass four areas: financial, customer, operational, and people. What are the key activities that you need to perform in order to achieve your vision? Financial requirements are a key element for many businesses: How much money will you need (and when) along the way. Customers are key, obviously. Who are they? Where will you find them? How will you approach them? Operationally you must decide the what & where of your operation before choosing the identities and roles of the people that will be helping you on the way.
- Strategy: Strategy establishes a way to match your company’s strengths with market opportunities so that your business comes to mind when your customer wants to buy. Here’s where you map out your route out, step by step. This is the A to B route map. Does your strategy match your strengths in a way that provides value to your customers? Does it build your corporate reputation?
- Short-term goals/priorities/initiatives: Short-term goals convert your strategic objectives into specific performance targets. You should use SMART goals to establish your objectives and targets. SMART goals are effective goals and clearly state what you want to accomplish, when you want to accomplish it, how you’re going to do it, and who’s going to be responsible. Each goal should be specific and measurable. What are the 1 to 3-year goals you’re trying to achieve to reach your vision?
- Action items: Action items are plans that set specific actions that lead to implementing your goals. They include start and end dates and appointing a person responsible Are your action items comprehensive enough to achieve your goals? The action items should have start dates and, of course due dates.
- KPI’s: KPI’s measure and manage your strategic plan. What are the key performance indicators you need to track to monitor whether you’re achieving your mission? Pick 5 to 10 goal related measures you can use to track the progress of your plan and plug them into your route-map/ success chart. I’ve seen clients get very creative with their visual representation of where they are in route to their destination with huge charts and one client created a Lego model that was built up over time as each element was completed.
- Execution: In executing the plan, identify issues that surround who manages and monitors the plan and how the plan is communicated and supported. How committed are you to implementing the plan to move your company forward? Will you commit money, resources, and time to support the plan? More importantly will you keep working it, any plan is only as good as the execution and that requires effort and attention.
With all of this, you’re now ready to build your strategic plan and start following it to your destination.
Sometimes, the easiest way to create your strategic plan is to use my Reverse Engineering Goal Creation process. It’s an extremely valuable tool to help businesses identify what they want and map out a route to get it. It is essential for achieving ‘escape velocity’ for businesses.
Simply put, you create a goal and track back to how to work out how to do it. There’s a lot more to the process but if you’re interested in our sending you the PDF of reverse then get in touch.
If you’re interested in discussing how Cellular Attitude can help your business devise a new sales strategy, develop your sales plan, improve the abilities of your sales teams, increase employee engagement and offer an online platform that delivers tremendous results, call Adam or Bianca on 020 8530 9797 or complete the contact form.