If you are in business today, you are well aware that the market is experiencing a noteworthy transformation. While business owners generally have become quite anxious, I have observed too many business leaders taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude. With uncertainty all around, silently praying for things to return to the way they were may feel like the safe thing to do, but as a leader it is time to get back into the driver’s seat.
There is an opportunity right now, to systematically reflect and adapt, and, it is time- sensitive. If ever there was a moment when strategic thinking and planning mattered, it is now.
No matter how recently you created the set of business strategies you are currently working under, if any of the key assumptions you used have changed, it is time to reassess the marketplace and your business, and pull out a drawing board.
Strategic planning is not something that should be done alone. Collaborate with staff, business partners, respected clients, and other stakeholders. Engage a business coach if it helps you to move forward faster and with more confidence.
To secure the future of your business, the following four steps will get you moving in the right direction.
Step One: Start with the Foundation
Revisit your purpose and your values. What is important to you? If you had it right before, make sure it still holds true in the rapidly changing world. If your ‘reason to be’ is no longer compelling to you and your team, the business is not likely to succeed in a challenging business cycle.
Step Two: Assess Products and Services
Revisit your products and services and most importantly- talk to your clients. Have needs shifted?
Your product and services may be difficult to buy if they don’t save time, money or add great value even in a down economy. Which of your products and services are really working, and which ones aren’t? Now is the time to focus on productivity and efficiency. If you are wasting time, energy or money on non-productive products or services, it is time to let them go. What more can you do to expand upon the winners?
Are there other markets that you don’t serve today who could benefit in the current economy from your most successful products and/or services?
Step Three: Understand the Trends
There are major shifts occurring in economics, politics, globalization, demographics, and technology. For every trend you can identify, there are potential risks and opportunities for your business. Listen to what your clients, your colleagues and your competitors are talking about. Take the time to assess what the trends mean for your business. Identify one or two initiatives that will increase the likelihood that your business will be around in three years.
Step Four: Streamline Processes and Maximize Potential
Eliminating inefficiencies, maximizing productivity and applying more of the potential already in your business will help you get by on less when all of your assets count. Which of your business processes deliver inconsistent results- sales, customer service, production, other? Optimizing the workflows and roles and responsibilities of your team is critical to minimizing expenses and keeping your clients coming back.
Don’t hesitate to ask tough questions at a vulnerable time, it is when good leadership and strategic thinking make the difference.