The How-To: Setting Up A Business Strategy For Your Enterprise
As an entrepreneur, you will need to make decisions on how to develop your services, market your product, or conquer a market or part of it.
You must choose which methods you will use, and for what purpose you will use them. These choices form what we call a strategy, a set of decisions an entrepreneur takes in order to attain his or her goal–goals can be reached via a few simple actions taken alone.
While establishing a strategy may seem simple, it can be quite challenging for young entrepreneurs. It requires of course a clear understanding of your product, your consumers, and the context of your work. But that is not enough. Below, I will summarize the arduous process of setting up a business strategy in six steps. Remember that creating a strategy requires reflection and consultation; its chances to succeed will be greater if you work on it as a team.
What is your goal? What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to be? This cannot be just a dream; it must be a goal that is realistic and feasible, yet difficult to attain without proper intermediary actions. For example, you want to increase your sales by 20%, or raise your share in the market by 10%. This would be the core goal of your strategy, what is called a strategic objective. You must direct all of your attention towards this objective. This is the reason behind the existence of your strategy.
What are the obstacles that hinder you from achieving this goal? Your product is unknown. The market is saturated. Your prices are not competitive, or the distribution is controlled by famous brands. You have to change all of this. You have to make your product known, find your way into the market, work well on your prices and establish your own distribution chain, etc. These are your intermediary objectives. Their attainment will allow you to achieve your final goal, that which is the basis of your strategy.
You are not alone. Who in the market shares products closely related to yours? With whom can you make partnerships in the market? Who can resell your products? Who can you recruit or encourage to contribute to your strategy? Are they supermarkets or small points of sale in well-chosen neighborhoods? Your strategy has to include the work of your partners and allies.
You do not work in a silo. The context you work within is constantly changing. What must change or remain the same so that your strategy is attained? You must always keep an eye on the context in which you work so that you are able to perceive changes as they happen and adapt your strategy accordingly. The context is part of your strategy. You can influence a small part of this environment, but there remains much outside your control. This does not mean that the environment surrounding your product cannot be taken into account. On the contrary, this grey area of doubt must be included in your strategy.
Make sure your strategy is complete. Did you forget something? Are your hypotheses good? If you have done A, B, and C, are you going to make it to D? Are you sure? Who did this before you? How can you benefit from their experience? For reasons of efficiency and effectiveness, you have always to ask if what you are doing is “necessary” and if is “enough.”
Visualize your strategy and use it to manage the attainment of your results. You can visualize your strategy through a results framework with the strategic objective on top and the intermediary results at the bottom. You can also use a sophisticated and complex logical framework. Regardless of the exact visualization you use, you will be able to see your plan and monitor the implementation of your strategy. Use this visualization to tell others what you have achieved, with the help of indicators.
The aim of a strategy is to create change, whether in the form of a new product, a new way of doing something, or a new brand. A good knowledge of the context is of paramount importance. The best strategists are those who observe changes that take place in the environment surrounding them and adapt rapidly and more easily than others. Good luck!
Lahcen Haddad has been Minister of Tourism with the Government of Morocco between 2012 and 2016. As Minister, he has overseen the shift of Morocco towards becoming a leading destination in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East and a reference country with regards to sustainable tourism.
Before joining the Government in January 2012, Dr. Haddad worked as an international expert in strategic studies, democracy, governance and development, and as a certified expert in strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, diversity and entrepreneurship. His involvement in programs and studies of national and international importance endowed him with a mastery of geostrategic issues, economic development, public policy, international relations and issues of governance at local and international levels.
Haddad also taught as a university professor for over 20 years with institutions such as Indiana University, Saint Thomas Aquinas College in New York, the School of International Training in Vermont, Mohamed V University in Rabat and Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. At the World Learning School of International Training, he was for ten years the Academic Director for the SIT Morocco Program and area thought leader for the Academic Directors community.
Haddad’s publications in English, Arabic, French and Spanish, both academic and journalese, span the topic areas of geo-strategy, social sciences, development, entrepreneurship, communication and management as well as topics of general interest.