I’ve often said that you should not start any business without a business plan. So are you surprised that I put this strategy step at the end of my Business Tune Up Program?
There’s a good reason. A “strategic growth plan” is entirely different than a start-up business plan, and plotting strategy takes a deep understanding of what drives your business — and your profits.
If you’ve followed my 4-step Business Tune Up Program, you already understand your business. If not, please don’t skip it. Go back to the prior steps to find which products and services are really driving profits.
Still with me? Good. This week’s lesson will be short and sweet.
Business Tune Up Program — Week 4: Grow Bigger, Faster by Building a Strategy First
No one blog post can teach everything about finding a growth strategy for your company. So instead, I’m going to give you 4 steps, along with some of my favorite tools, to spur your own strategic thinking.
- Keep It Focused on Customers
My friend Chuck Bamford once told me that “Strategy is simply knowing what it takes to get customers in the door.” I like the simplicity of that. (Plus, Chuck is a PhD in Strategy and teaches Entrepreneurship at Queens University, so I believe him!) As you use the following tools, keep in mind that you’re looking for that magic formula that will bring more customers in the door — cheaper, faster, and more profitably. Of course, you know from reading my blog that some customers are better than others, right?
- Shake Up Your Business Model
Even if you love your current operations, take this opportunity to wipe the slate clean and let yourself explore completely new ways to make money within your business. If you sell services, consider a membership model. If you distribute products, consider leasing. Get crazy. And when you want help putting the pieces of your business model together differently, take some time to download this cool business model building tool, called the Business Model Generation Canvas. (Or visit their homepage) Its all the rage in Silicon Valley. Before you start, watch the founder lecturing at Stanford on the topic (yes, its free). Well worth a listen… and available on iTunes as a podcast too.
- Better Strategy Means Better Decisions
You might have 10 new business models you’d like to try. Which is best? When you just need to decide between alternatives, there’s nothing better than having the right “decision model” to help you see the alternatives clearly. I found The Decision Book in an airport one day, and it hasn’t left my side since. But don’t go it alone. Find a friend, a confidant, a mentor, or a CFO to help you walk through the possibilities. Two brains are better than one when it comes to this kind of creative destruction!
- Write it Down on One Page
When you start seeing the strategic stars align, get it down on paper…Fast! Sure, you could write another 30 page business plan, but that would just distract you from the work at hand. Once you understand your business (and if you’ve been through my 3 prior steps, you do!), get your thoughts down on one page. Use The One Page Business Plan workbook to help. Its an amazing resource — like a coach you can sit with to get your mojo back. And if you need help with this step, the author Jim Horan has built an amazing team who can help you walk through it. Believe me… when Horan is done with you, you will have a whole new vision for your business! Tell him David Worrell sent you.
OK, that’s it folks. You’ve successfully graduated from my 4-Step Business Tune Up Program.
The intent of all this work was not to derail you, not to tie you down, certainly not to lecture you. The reason we did this together was to better understand how your business works today … and to think about how it SHOULD work tomorrow.
Every business has to keep changing and growing. That’s the nature (and the curse!) of business today. Keep innovating, keep improving. Every business can benefit from a refreshing tune up from time to time. And people (owners, managers, even staff) who understand what makes a company tick will be better able to keep it running smoothly.
I really hope you’ve given some careful thought to your own business as we’ve walked through these 4 steps. And I hope you’ll let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Or give me a call and tell me… what did you discover about your business?
Dedicated to your (constant and always improving) profits, David.
PS: Want to review the 4 steps?
- Week 1: Listen to What your Business is Telling You
- Week 2: Measure Performance & Identify Key Drivers of Profit(above)
- Week 3: Build a Stronger Financial Foundation for Growth
- Week 4: Grow Faster with the Right Strategy… above!