Small business owners often have different strategies in place for marketing, human resource management, pricing, IT and many other aspects of their business operations.
The strategies can be explicit or implicit, and small business owners can choose to view them as distant memories or words to live by on a daily basis. But first, back to basics: what is a business strategy and why might a small business owner be tempted to have one?
A business strategy is ‘a long term action plan to achieve goals or objectives.’ Having a strategy is therefore a good idea for a small business owner as this provides structure and direction for the business as a whole and for specific operational areas. Executing the strategy well is first prize as it is actions, not intentions that determine whether small business owners achieve their goals.
Some of the factors underlying the successfully execution of any business strategy are:
• Know what you are trying to achieve – have clearly defined goals and objectives, and the actions required to attain them.
• Demonstrate what you mean through visible leadership – business owners and senior managers in the organisation should practise what they preach and live the strategy, giving it their full support in any way they can.
• Make sure your employees know about and understand the strategy – employees should be well-versed in the ‘short and sweet’ version of the strategy which lets them know what they need to do, when and how. For instance, employees’ salaries, bonuses and other incentives can be linked to achieving specific targets.
• Strike a balance between being too controlling and process-oriented (i.e. bureaucratic) on the one hand, and being too hands-off and letting your employees do as they see fit to implement the strategy on the other hand.
• Treat your strategy as a dynamic work-in-progress that can be adapted quickly to changing circumstances, not as something set in stone.