What is corporate strategy? And what is small business corporate strategy? Or small business strategy planning?
Well, I will tell you what it is in practice, and what you can do with it, specifically in small businesses.
What is strategy? Well, the word “strategy” in itself has been used so many times these last years. You can use it for everything now. And I have the feeling that if people use the word “strategy”, that they have the impression that their idea will sell so much better, and that they think that it is kind of a magical word. And maybe it will sell better, because , I think, it is indeed a magical word.
Let me tell you a story, to explain what strategy is, something that happened to me a few years ago. So, 95% of my time, I advise business owners, about corporate strategy mainly. And a few days a year, I am very happy to speak as a “guest professor strategy and entrepreneurship” in two highly acclaimed universities, and in a specialized college where they have a specific training for small business management. And I met once one of the deans in those organizations in the corridor, and we were having some small talk, and at a certain moment, he said to me: “Kurt, corporate strategy, what is corporate strategy? Can you explain that to me in a sentence? But in a simple way, because I am not used to talking in financial terms and things like that.” He’s a linguist. And I thought for a second and I said to him, “well, Corporate Strategy is using the resources you have as a company (and the resources you will generate as a company) as a good mama or a good papa, to reach in a very smart way the goal you have carefully determined.” That is strategy. Use your resources very wisely to get in an optimal way to your smartly decided goal. He understood it. And for me that is the best working definition of corporate strategy. I promised I would tell you what it is in practice – let me do this further now.
I would say that a good corporate strategy or a good business strategy gives answers to seven very important questions.
The first one is: “what do we provide as a service or as a product?” And also “what do we not provide as a service or as a product?”
or “What do we not provide any more as a service or as a product?” And that second part of the question – “what do we not do – is often the most difficult one. But it is a significant part. The whole question is fundamental.
The second question is: “Who is our client?” “Who do we choose as clients?” “
Whom do we want to deliver our goods to, or our services to?” And “whom do we not want to deliver our goods or our services to?” That is also a very important question. And maybe you think, “Well Kurt, those questions are very simple.” Yes, they are. The questions are very simple, but when you think about it in a certain way, you will increase your strength as a company, you will increase your profit, you will increase the fire your have in your company, the energy you have in your company. It’s not always obvious as it seems to answer those first two questions. And when I think of our practice, we have improved a lot of business results in companies where they gave a very well-thought of and a clear, crystal clear answer to those questions. And the results they had improved a lot, because of that. Don’t under estimate the power of those simple questions. It’s the quality of the answers that counts of course.
The third question is – and that is also a very important one – “How do we excel through the eyes of our customers?”
That is a crucial one.
The fourth question is, “how do we deliver our products and our services”?
Indeed, these days, with all the new technology, the new possibilities, it’s imperative to think about how we will deliver our services.
And the fifth question is also an extremely important one, and that is: “what is your core strategy?”
And when you have determined that, and you take care that the whole core strategy is “seeping through” the whole organization, then you are on your way to a lot better results, to a lot more profit before taxes, to a smarter growth, to more energy in your company, more energy in your team. All things that will happen. That was the fifth question.
The sixth one is: “what are your absolute most important goals; measurable goals?”.
Absolutely most important goals. I am talking about 2 or 3 or 4 goals; not 24. OK? Focus is power.
And then, the seventh question is: “what are your most important strategic actions?”
Here again, you need your 4, 5, 6, 7 most important strategic actions. Not a list of 145. OK?
These seven questions I just mentioned, always get an answer in our one-to-one consulting projects when we do something about strategy, defining strategy, reorientation of a company and things like that.
And then we have other questions that are not always answered in those companies.
It depends on the client and on the specific situation of the client. To give you a few examples: a question like
- “what is our core purpose“? For some clients that is extremely important, and for other clients, it is absolutely not important.
- “What are our values?” Again, the same.
- “What is our Unique Employer Proposition?” (How we attract and keep the right people on board.)
- “What is our strategic core competency?”
- “What is our long-term goal exactly?” For some people that is so energizing, and for other people … they couldn’t care less.
Just to name a few examples. These are also “strategic questions”, but of another order.
The 7 ones that I asked first, always have to get an answer in practice.
The art is to give not only just an answer, but a crystal clear and powerful answer to all these questions, and to synthesize those answers in 1 page or a page and a half,
not more, so that you have a powerful strong basis for building the future of your business. Then your strategy will be alive, not just a document, and your strategy will help you to make so many other answers to questions to practical questions very simple. Think about questions like “whom will I hire?” or “What message do you want to convey in your marketing?” “What marketing should we do” “What is our exact target group now?” “How do I brief my salespeople exactly?” “How will I evaluate my people?” “How will I steer the manufacturing department or another department?” “Which investments will I make?”. All these questions – and many other ones – will become a lot easier to answer when you have determined your strategy crystal clear. Powerful. Differentiating from other companies.
In our program “Mastering Business Results,” we go deeper into these questions of course, in a very practical way so that you can make a very good, solid, strong strategic answers and a strategic base for your company. If you want to know more about this, click the link and fill out your email address so we can send you a small video with all the info you need about the program.
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We wish you, or I wish you all the success you can carry. And we can help you realize it.
Let’s make our future bright.