It’s another great weekend and today we would like to quickly consider the aspect of strategy for an entrepreneur. It’s a bit unfortunate though that the words strategy and tactic are oftentimes mixed, interchanged, used haphazardly and yet they mean different things. I hope you are not one of those that confuse these words; are you? Just for clarification purpose, we can say that a business strategy is an articulation of the overall direction of an enterprise in the medium and long-term. It is a specification of the way your enterprise competes in your industry whether it’s entertainment, education, hardware, clothing industries etc. This implies that your strategy should define the rules and guidelines by which the mission, objectives etc. of your enterprise will be achieved. It is simply an organized way of achieving something in the long-term.
Now, what about tactics? Tactics are your short-term enterprise plans and they can be said to be sub-sets of your strategy. Tactics are actions that you will take to support the strategy or general direction of your business. This general direction might be market share leadership, brand leadership, cost leadership, high volume, product differentiation etc. Your business tactics are therefore the means by which you will achieve your strategy, and these means are generally short-term and may be planned or ad hoc in nature. Tactics use specific resources to achieve short-term goals with clear deliverables or outputs. Tactics are generally flexible and skillful management of resources to achieve set goals, which in turn support the long-term strategy of your business. Then, what are the top or principle issues an entrepreneur must know about business strategy? Please read on.
- The purpose of your enterprise strategy. Do you the entrepreneur and your key staffs know and understand the purpose of your business strategy? Do you know that your strategy articulates your general positioning, direction and unique value propositions? Have you realized that your strategy empowers you to build on strengths, resolve weaknesses, exploit opportunities and avoid threats to your enterprise while at the same time motivating your staffs and helping your resource allocation? Your enterprise key decisions and their implementation hinge on your business strategy. Don’t you think so? My friend, it is vital that you know the purpose of your strategy.
- What about the key elements in your business strategy? Are you simply going to wake up and utilize some lazy approach to documenting your enterprise strategy? Have you considered the key components you should consider while articulating your strategy? Now, it is advisable that your strategy includes components such as a SWOT analysis, unique value proposition, mission and values, economic aspects such as resources and their allocation, your value chain, the market you are targeting, strategic implementation issues and also continuous improvement as your enterprise strategy should be dynamic in the long-term. Don’t you agree with me here? For some entrepreneurs, when they say strategy is long-term, they want to stick to it for decades until they die! The dynamic business world however will not allow you stick forever with your outdated strategy – in other words, your enterprise will be extinct if your take ‘long-term’ too seriously.
- Your business strategy defines how you will compete in the market. Mr. Entrepreneur, how do you plan to be different from the countless similar enterprises around you? What is your competitive advantage? Are you unique in any way? These issues indeed constitute your value proposition; otherwise you will be just another new business around the corner. Isn’t it? Come on – do something new and exciting. Something that will make people run to give you money because they simply can’t hold themselves to get access to your goods or services! I’m not telling you to invent the sun, but you can create and deliver value in a unique way even with the usual things you see around you. Can’t you? If others are doing it, what about you?
- Strategic issues and their management determine your strategic success. Do you get what I mean here? Strategic issues are the big strategic questions or critical strategic issues that lie at the core of your strategy. For example, your enterprise’s answer to how you will beat or avoid competition is fundamental to your strategic success. Mr. Entrepreneur, it is good that you understand that such strategic issues come out of logical, illogical, critical, disruptive thinking (may be outside the box as some call it) around areas such as resource limitations, competences you have in the business, strategic alliances, your focus and other areas. When you narrow down on these strategic issues and prioritize them then you have a good clue to your strategic planning and implementation. Got it? I guess so. These strategic issues are usually identified after your strategic analysis (SWOT) mentioned above as one of the key components of your strategy.
- Your business strategic issues are not necessarily critical issues. This might be a dangerous statement and some people might want to cane me for this. But yes – never confuse critical with strategic. Just like urgent things being not important! Do you understand me? Critical issues are deficiencies or problems, usually unexpected though sometimes expected, that require fixing and they get back to normalcy. Strategies relate to competitiveness, productivity, etc and drive your enterprise to new dimensions while creating a definitive difference that the market sees and gets attracted to. Don’t blame me, and start mobilizing all kinds of definitions and business grammar to counter my argument. My colleague, these two issues are very different.
I guess it’s time to stop and run now. I do hope we have shared something good on strategy today. Do you want your enterprise to be different? Do you like setting the pace while others follow? Think about strategy, and the issues I have mentioned above. Decide what you want to do with your strategy, and get going.
The Wise Entrepreneur