One of the things you must settle on when running a business is your direction. How do you want to move forward? Will you focus on the sales of your current products and services, open up more physical stores, or begin diversifying to expand your business?
As you can see, there are many ways for your business to grow. However, not all of them will lead to success. Early on, you have to take the time to work out a clear strategic direction to ensure that you’re implementing the best strategies for your business.
Importance of a clear strategic direction
Businesses need structure and detailed processes to thrive. The foundation of this is a clear strategic direction. When you have one, it can be advantageous in many ways.
If you know what you want to eventually achieve, it’s easier to identify the necessary steps to get there. So, internalizing your strategy from the start is crucial to your success. At Boardroom Advisors, setting a clear strategic direction is what they help businesses do first because it’s necessary for crafting a strong business plan.
Moreover, having a single goal in mind unifies all aspects of your business. The plans of the marketing team, operations team, and more will be aligned with each other. Even if they’re not communicating every day, you’re assured that they’re all working towards a similar goal.
This also means that delegating responsibilities won’t be difficult to manage. As all key members are aware of the business’s direction, you can let them do their jobs without micromanaging. You can remain confident that they know what their objectives and targets are.
Signs you’re on the right track
Once you’ve determined a direction for your business, how do you know if it’s clear and strategic? Below are telling signs that you’ve found one that works for you.
1. Able to set targeted objectives and steps
Often, business owners will have a vision for their company. It’s a goal, but it’s not always a good business goal. This is especially true when you have a difficult time visualizing how to actually turn that vision into reality.
This is why being able to set targeted objectives and step-by-step procedures is one of the signs that you’ve defined your strategy well. You have a clear idea of what you want, so you can break it down into viable objectives. At the same time, you can also stipulate in detail how you want to achieve them.
Your objectives and steps are also set with intent when they’re targeted towards an aim. Once you attain them, they get you closer to your goal. If they don’t, it means they’re unnecessary and you may need to clarify your business direction to know what you should be doing.
2. Coordinated leaders and staff
When a business has a clear strategic direction, it’ll be easier for it to function like a well-oiled machine. This is because the people behind it all have a mutual understanding of what their efforts should produce at the end of the day. Running a business isn’t always a one-man job, after all.
A coordinated business starts when you have leaders that connect with your goal. Right from the start, there must be an alignment between them and you as the business owner on where the business should be going. This will help them understand how they can actively participate in building the road to get there.
This also creates a domino effect on business operations. Your fellow company leaders have staff working under them. Hence, they’ll be directing their staff with their interpretation of the business goal.
If from the beginning, the business direction is all over the place, then that’s also how they’ll run the business with you. Should this happen, it means you didn’t have a clear strategic direction in the first place. It’s high time to rethink your strategy and communicate it well to your members.
3. Strategy is producing favorable results
If you’ve already thought out your direction and created strategies to implement it, the next thing to do is to actually test it out. Create a business plan and see how it goes. Make sure to have checkpoints set up for a strategic review and use quantifiable measurements to guide you in analyzing your performance.
If it’s producing the results you expect, it’s most likely because you have a suitable plan for your strategic direction. If it’s not, then take a pause to review your situation. Was it a minor mishap in implementation or was the plan not connecting with the business goal in the first place?
Not reaching favorable results isn’t always a sign that you’re not on the right track. Sometimes, it might be a challenge you have to overcome. Use careful discernment and proper metrics in determining if something is a minor bump in the right direction or a definite roadblock you need to avoid by going back.
Things to remember
Use strategic analysis
Whether you’re creating a strategic direction or refining an existing one, make use of strategic analysis. For a direction to be strategic, it has to be based on research and an analysis of your business’s core processes and external environment. Fortunately, there are several tools out there to help with your strategic analysis.
A common but useful one is SWOT Analysis where you list down all your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats before determining the various directions your business can pursue.
Your strengths and weaknesses tell a lot about how your business can improve, but reviewing those alongside your external opportunities and threats can give you a larger perspective. You can create strategies that maximize your strengths and opportunities and also minimize your weaknesses and threats.
Change direction when needed
Recognizing the signs of a clear strategic direction is worthwhile. If you’re hitting the right targets, then you must be going in the right direction. If you aren’t, then you have an idea that something must be wrong.
Don’t be afraid to review your strategic direction and change it when needed. Analyze the new information you have and think about other strategies your business could pursue. It may consume more time, but that’s better than losing more money and resources if you fail in the end.
Involving key members and experts
Sometimes, you need an extra push to propel your business in the right direction. If you have Board members, you could sit down with them and talk about the strategic direction of the business. They all have their own expertise and knowledge about the business to contribute to your discussion.
Seeking advice from experts outside of your business circle can also be valuable. You can work with Boardroom Advisors to consult with experienced professionals who have helped develop other businesses successfully. Additionally, since they aren’t affiliated with your company, they can give objective and strategic advice that you or your Board may have not considered before.
Article written by John Courtney, Founder & CEO of BoardroomAdvisors.co