Is Your Business Strategy Working?
Every successful endeavor requires a well-oiled strategy. Individuals and businesses can be comfortable taking risks and accomplishing goals if there is a game plan in place and a way to execute it. A business strategy does just that by first creating a vision and direction for all the team members to follow.
A business strategy is a plan documenting how an organization is going to achieve a set of goals. It helps you understand the company, the industry and changing world you interact with, and enables a business to create a vision and direction. The business strategy contains a few essential components including a mission statement, vision statement, and the values or guiding principles of the company.
According to Troy Hermanson, Territory Business Manager with Bristol-Myers Squibb “A business strategy is fluid and evolves over time. It is usually looked at annually, whereas, the vision and mission are more fixed and tend to stay the same.”
Mission and Vision
Businesses often confuse a vision and a mission statement so a business coach can help you tease that difference apart. A vision statement is the long-term “vision” for the company–what they want to see, while a mission statement addresses what it does, how it does so and who it does for in a precise statement.
Both are statements that everybody in the business should be able to learn and internalize. Take the example of the popular ice cream maker, Ben & Jerry’s. Their vision statement is: to make the best possible ice cream in the best possible way. The related mission statement is broken into three components: Product (fantastic ice cream for its own sake); Economic (manage the company for sustainable financial growth); and Social (use the company in innovative ways to make the world a better place).
The business strategy then is more concrete steps to realize these statements. For example, if you start a donut-making business, a business strategy will outline that you identify the customer, how much to charge, what sales will be like in the near and long-term and what financing sources you will have.
Employees within an organization can find it difficult to see the bigger picture so many businesses hire a business coach to help them develop, implement, and monitor a strategy.
A coach works with leaders and management to assist with the structuring of the organization. The business leaders are the ones who set the overall tone for the organization; they are the ones coming up with the mission, values, and strategy. Business management personnel then make sure the strategy is implemented; they are tasked with directing and controlling and making sure the company reaches their goal.
Every company or organization is vulnerable to fluctuating trends in the marketplace. Because of this, it’s imperative they know whether or not goals are being met, and modify strategy if needed. For example, a bakery that sees demographic changes in population would be wise to tailor its offerings accordingly. Too often, the leaders and managers in an organization are too close to the process to have an unbiased perspective on issues that might be impacting growth and development. A business coach can be a valuable asset both to any company who finds themselves in this predicament and to prevent such a pickle from brewing in the first place.
Why Business Coaching Helps
Business coaches have the ability to analyze the company or organization as a whole and review the mission, values, and strategy that define the goals. They are there to assist with the overlying principle and to ask one key question: “Is this going to help you achieve the goal.”
A key role of a business coach is to guide a business when a change of strategy is needed. One way to accomplish this task is to use a SWOT diagram. SWOT is a summarized view or analysis of the company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Hermanson recommends that the coach “look at what is going on in the marketplace by using this four-quadrant diagram or SWOT and assist the team in developing three things they can focus on and get done in a year.”
While keeping the four-quadrant model of SWOT in mind, it’s easy for a business coach to discover when an organization needs a correction in strategy. Let’s say a particular restaurant is the only eating establishment in the area. For years, they have been able to maintain a fairly steady stream of customers, stay profitable, and invest very little time in developing a strategy.
Now, two or three new restaurants have opened up in the neighborhood and the original establishment is facing a threat in its competitive environment.
Going by the SWOT method, the strengths of the restaurant could be the quality of the food, the customer base. The weaknesses could be a lack of knowledge about handling competition. The opportunities could be for joint marketing programs with the new businesses (Night on Main Street for example where businesses work in tandem to attract traffic) and the new threat is competition.
A business coach can look at the revised SWOT analysis and help formulate, implement, and monitor the new strategy and goals that go along with it. A business coach can convince the team that the old ways of doing things might no longer work and that they must adapt if they want to retain profitability.
From conception through operation, a business coach can lend an unbiased eye and keep tabs to make sure that the business strategy is aligned with mission, vision and current market conditions.