I recently heard it said that a strategy is not necessarily a plan but rather an underlying structure. True statement. A strategy can be defined as a policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. Take a baseball team as a simple example. Its strategy is to win the game by moving their runners around the infield from first to home base in order to score. How this is accomplished may change. The opposing team may change their pitcher from a right-handed to a left-handed requiring a change in batter and so on. The underlying structure does not change however. Win the game.
Too often the all-important business plan contains too much “plan” and not enough strategy. It can leave investors, customers and employees wondering, why did we discontinue a product line, what’s up with this marketing program and what is the purpose behind making these changes? These and many more questions can contribute to a lack of confidence in leadership. Clearly stating the strategy and underlying structure will mitigate potential negative thinking towards the company.
Here are a few examples of strategies:
- Sell more products across all divisions of the company.
- Provide the most innovative product or service.
- Multiply and focus on sales for the most recently introduced product lines.
- Improve customer service and make it the leader in the city and industry.
- Own a larger presence in a younger market genre.
Plans will change and may remain unfilled however with a strategy in place, the company and stakeholders will know how to regroup and react to opportunities and threats.
A well thought out and designed business plan is the place to define strategies. This will fit very well in the opening executive summary and company overview. Be sure to identify this as the company strategy. Too often I see writers developing the details at this point of the plan only to lose readers. Potential investors that need to understand what the business is setting out to accomplish can find this information and will be encouraged to keep reading to the detailed plan further in the document.
To ensure that employees understand the company strategy give them access to the executive and business summary sections of the plan either through a separate document or presentation. Their reaction should be “I get it”, revitalizing them in their roles.
Ted Saul is a business coach that assists with Business Plans and Project Management. He earned his MBA from Regis University along with a masters in project management. He is also ITIL 4.0 certified. Ted can be reached on LinkedIn or emailing TedSaulbiz@gmail.com.