Want to know if a start-up business or organization will make it or not?
Ask them to walk you through their strategy.
Whether it’s a successful company that is evolving or organization that is forming, without a clear strategy you can bet money that they won’t go far.
Here’s what I mean.
Strategy, in it’s simplest terms, is your plan of action that leads to success.
It’s your road map. It’s the laser sight of your gun for your target. It’s your honing beacon. It’s the GPS leading you to the right destination. It’s your foundation that locks you in on your mission and purpose.
Good strategies are built with reverse engineering - thinking backwards on the road of success and then asking the question, “what will it take to get there?”
Without a strategy, a clear plan of actions and directives, business growth is a helpless game of Go-Fish. Success will become a guessing game of what will work and what won’t.
You’ll be aiming for a target that doesn’t exist!
If you want to predict success you have to develop a starting strategy.
Let’s look at the most successful businessmen and businesswomen in the world. How did they get to their level?
Steve Jobs. Warren Buffet. Jeff Bezos. Walt Disney. Oprah Winfrey. Sam Walton.
What do all these people have in common?
Practicing success-oriented actions consistently. In other words, strategy.
They set standards and then reinforced them with their actions. They carefully defined a strategy for success and then stuck with it. And chances are, they made a few improvements and positive changes along the way by tracking the accuracy and efficiency of their actions.
They made a plan, stuck with it, got better, and kept repeating the process.
Strategy is crucial so you can stay on mission, track the mile markers of success, and analyze return on investment.
No good business will last without being able to know how they line up with their strategy. They have to know their numbers… gains, loses, returns, costs, forecasting and so on... and be able to track consistency.
Strategy is what helps you stay on the course of longevity.
Strategy is what keeps you accurate to your purpose.
Strategy is what keeps your team and your focus on what really matters.
If you’ve never taken the time to develop a strategy. NOW is the time. Do it. No more excuses. Take even just 5 minutes and do this. Grab a pen and a paper.
List 5 goals or standards for the year.
Ok. Now that we have our goals. What sub-actions will it take to get there?
Awesome. Now you’re half way there.
Finally, list out your “Why.” Your reason for doing what you’re doing. In some cases, you might need to list out a few reasons why these goals are a priority.
Why are these things important? What is the cost of not hitting your goals? What problems do they solve?
Or if it’s easier for you, write out your strategy in a sentence by sentence format.
The marks of a good strategy include:
Here’s a quick summary example of a good strategy in a sentence by sentence format:
We’re a growing vacuum cleaning company that is determined to disrupt the vacuum cleaning market with an affordable and environmentally friendly vacuum with cutting edge smart technology. We hope to be at $1M in annual revenue by 2020 and to increase yearly by 50% eventually reaching $10M in annual revenue by the year 2025 and with international business and displays in the top biggest retailers in the world. We’re aiming for longevity and diversity, so we’re committed to keeping our operating expenses at less than 60% of our annual revenue and hiring specialists from diverse backgrounds around the world.
If you don’t know where to start on creating a good strategy, or perhaps you have one that has not been fine-tuned, it might mean getting your top leaders in a room and whiteboarding one out.
This means setting standards/goals and getting things out in the open where you can all agree on where the company should be headed.
I know of a lot of great companies that spend the first part of their year on retreat crafting, fine-tuning and making sure that their team knows their strategy for the upcoming year. They take year-end goals, break them down into quarters, then months, then weekly goals. These companies are always full of passion and consistently rise to the top of their market for a reason. Consistency and strategy.
Once you have a clear strategy, talk about it. A lot.
Bring it up in your meetings often. Make it plain for all to see. Put it in the break room. Put it where your team and customers can see it.
Ask your team for consistent feedback on it. Reward those who follow the plan or bring improvements to it.
Memorize it. Recite it. Review it.
Take the necessary steps to make sure everyone on the team knows where you’re headed, how you’re going to get there, and what it will take for a successful mission accomplished.
The more your team knows the strategy/mission, the more evidence you’ll see that your company is headed towards the common goal.
Fulfilling a successful strategy is not possible without three things: discipline (commitment), accountability (teamwork), and awareness (constant reminding).
I once heard a story about a president/CEO who helped make a 180-degree shift with his company after he realized the company’s new business strategy was failing.
One day in an elevator, the CEO asked a common employee what their new and improved mission statement was. Recently their board of directors had spent time reworking their mission statement and re-released it to the company. The CEO wanted to test the strength of their strategy and internal communication. If a bottom level employee could tell him the mission, then he knew their strategy would be successful.
The employee stumbled for a few seconds and eventually confessed to the CEO that he couldn’t tell him their new mission.
The CEO moved on. Frustrated, he went to the nearest manager’s desk. Same question, same result.
Now infuriated, he went to an executive’s desk. Same question. This time, he got a partial answer, but still not even close to what he wanted.
The CEO went home that night stewing over the failure of the communication of their strategy. He laid in bed asking himself what went wrong. Why did his company not know their new strategy?
After a sleepless night, the CEO came up with a great idea. He decided to will the new strategy into awareness. He would reward anyone who could tell him their mission statement with a crisp $100 bill.
He stopped by the bank the next morning on the way to the office and pulled out a large withdraw of cash. Hopeful, he parked his car at the office and headed to the elevator seeking another employee.
In the elevator once again, he asked another employee the same question. This time, he got the right answer. To the surprise and gasps of everyone on the elevator, this employee got $100 richer on the spot.
Word spread quickly. The CEO was now the most popular person in the company.
Soon, the employees started waiting by the elevator for the CEO. Just like Christmas morning, one employee after another began reciting the mission and receiving a $100 bonus.
The CEO joyfully passed out free money knowing that the cost of his bank withdraw would be far less than the cost of their once unknown strategy.
Within a few weeks the entire company knew the strategy forwards and backwards.
When the company’s biggest customer took a major hit and had to pull back on their orders, the CEO and the company were unfazed. In fact, they were up by 25% because they had increased business in previously undeveloped markets.
Why? Because their strategy was made clear throughout the company and their team had bought in to their mission. They knew their growth strategy and had implemented it.
For any company to be successful, it takes a clear strategy and THEN a clear buy in from the entire team.
No strategy, no buy-in, no success.
Tag. You’re it. It’s your turn to strategize. Whether it’s for your personal life, for your team, or your organization.
Here are some easy actions steps: