Strategic Planning 101: Create Your Business Strategy
Since you landed on this blog post, you're likely tackling a business challenge too massive to take on solo. Whether you're aiming to launch a groundbreaking product, boost your business metrics, or revolutionize your industry, you're probably wondering how to build a dynamic team that will help you succeed.
Brilliant business concepts deserve an exceptional team to follow through. And yet, the truth is that great teams don't magically come together. It takes more than bringing together a skilled group of tech wizards, creative designers, or savvy marketers. Without effective leadership and guidance, such a group will fall short of becoming a high-performing team.
From what I've experienced, a clear strategy is the first step toward building a high-performing team. When it's not there, you can see teams getting confused by a lack of strategic direction, which impacts team dynamics and individual performance. A clear strategy starts by breaking down your business challenge.
In this post, I will guide you through how to define the three layers of your business challenge:
- Ambition: Why your team will collaborate.
- Strategy: How you plan to achieve your long-term goal.
- Roadmap: What you'll do to succeed.
Lead with Purpose
As a leader, your journey begins with creating an inspiring vision: a description of a future that sparks your team's inner drive to make it come true. No matter your reasons for bringing your team together—righting wrongs, skyrocketing business results, or disrupting industries—frame your vision as a goal that concisely communicates your aspirations.
Map Your Business Strategy
With your purpose as a guiding light, it's much simpler to think out how you plan to reach your long-term goals. Consider your strategy as a game plan on how you and your team will achieve ambitious goals.
That said, there are four core strategies that you should take into account while charting your business course:
- Marketing Strategy: Who is your target audience, what is your value proposition, and how will you position your product in the market?
- Sales Strategy: How will you turn leads into customers?
- Product Strategy: What improvements will make customers happy?
- Operations Strategy: How can you optimize internal processes?
And, when you are ready to scale, you might want to think about these supporting strategies as well:
- Human Resources Strategy: How will you attract the right talent?
- Financial Strategy: How will you handle budgeting, forecasting, fundraising, and cash flow management?
- Customer Service Strategy: How will you interact with customers when they need your help?
- Innovation Strategy: How will you identify and chase new business opportunities?
- Partnership Strategy: Who will you collaborate with to expand your reach and capabilities?
- Social Responsibility Strategy: How do you plan to be a positive force for society and the environment?
Though fair is fair, not all strategies might be relevant for your team. It all depends on your team's purpose and the work they need to get done. At the end, a strategy can be as simple as properly answering all these questions.
With your strategy clear, I recommend you think about how you will structure your team and what specific roles you will need to succeed. See it as the blueprint for success.
Imagine constructing a building without a plan—the result would be chaos. An organizational structure is that plan; it ensures the team knows everyone's responsibilities as they chase the grand vision.
Creating Your Strategic Roadmap
Much like a cartographer mapping uncharted territories, your strategic roadmap serves as your guide toward your goal. It consists of three key elements: the journey, the lanes, and the timeline.
The journey is knowing where you are starting and where you want to go. Or, in business terms, what is the last big goal you reached, and what is the next big goal you aim to achieve?
The lanes represent what you need to achieve your goal. These lanes tend to represent your company departments or strategic projects.
The timeline is simply a straight line connecting your starting points to your destination broken down into the time intervals you want to plan.
Let me give you an example. Imagine a team on a mission to land a monkey on Mars. This what their strategic roadmap could look like.
They describe their journey in the following way: "Back in 1969, we successfully got a man to the moon. Now we want to be the first to land a monkey on Mars."
That is one ambitious goal for which they will need many things to succeed. But, let's say they decide these are their most strategic needs: a rocket, technology, and trained monkeys.
And, as far as timeline, they would like to land a monkey on Mars within three years.
That is your roadmap. It's that simple. Now all that's left is to use the roadmap to plan the milestones the team will need to achieve to land a monkey on Mars.
Now that we have a clear roadmap canvas, it's time to detail the steps needed within each lane leading to your goal. Arrange them logically, considering parallel tasks and dependencies. Each step should contribute to reaching the goal.
I imagine it might seem like a lot at the moment, but don't rush it. With practice, strategic planning will become simple yet fundamental part of getting your team to perform. As you work through this strategic process, remember that practice makes perfect. It might feel a bit overwhelming at first. But over time, you'll get a feel for what goes within your strategy and whether your milestones are realistic.
The next step? Design a team primed for successfully executing your strategy.