How to avoid business strategy mistakes

6 January 2014

Starting a new business, or trying to turn around an old one, takes courage – and a great business plan. Not all plans are created equal though. Some are a mix of waffle and reiterations of previous mistakes. So here are five tips to help you create a better business strategy.

Don’t pad the business plan

It can be tempting for a start-up to feel the need to go into every little detail, but this can lead to confusion for everyone reading it. Instead of getting a crisp overview of where you want the business to go, the waffle can obscure your true purpose.

By using a lean approach, you can focus on what is really important in an easy to assimilate format. Lean business strategies (or plans) keep to the essentials; only delving deeper into areas that truly require more explanation – and even then, ensure those are kept to a minimum.

Let it evolve

If a business strategy doesn’t evolve over time it will stagnate and ultimately fail. As your business needs change, the plan has to have the flexibility to help you make effective change. A plan that is set in stone with immovable sales targets and growth forecasts doesn’t allow for economic downturns, or gives you the ability to scale up production if demand requires it.

Build agility into your business strategy and go back to it regularly to ensure it’s still working for the business you are running today, not five years ago.

Have a plan b

For most businesses the strategy is all about being positive about the future, with no room for considering the bumps along the way. Yet by identifying potential problems long before they happen you can build an alternative route to steer your business towards success.

Your plan b doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the main strategy document, but thinking through this separate document will save you time, and reduce panic levels, later on.

Find the best people

The greatest business strategy will fail without a great team to implement it. It’s very easy to get lost in the grandeur of the plan and lose sight of who will actually be working with you to make it happen in the real world.

Within your plan identify the people you will be working with or the characteristics you need to make the plan work. Not only will it help you see what you really need from your potential team, it’ll show up the flaws in your current team.

Don’t aim for perfection straight away

Getting your business off the ground, or setting a new strategy in place, can be daunting, but don’t get mired in making it perfect before implementation. Get the core values established and then put your plan into action. Without action you can’t tell if your plan is really going to work or just an exercise in conceptual thinking.

Again keep it lean. This way anything that doesn’t work can be ditched earlier in the process, giving more breathing space to the more successful aspects of your business strategy.

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