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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Business Strategy

Essentials for Making Business Strategy Work 

As a sales and business growth strategist I’m called to assist in development, assessment and execution of strategies for businesses in diverse industries. While some people will be keen to ensure that the structure, content organization and the grammar in the strategic plan is perfect, in business, your strategy should be judged differently. It should be judged on whether it is the best course of action given where you are headed. And the consequences are not a pass or distinction written on a paper but profits, revenues and losses. 

When I engage these clients a few have well written plans but majority don’t have any strategy or plan for accomplishing the big aims they are so busy working on. Those with plans engage my services because their plans don’t work. As I evaluate why these plans don’t work I get to understand that there are a few essential factors that were overlooked at the point of formulating the strategies. 

As you plan and strategize, let me share some of these essentials. 

Take the choice that will give you the highest results. 

The truth of the matter is that most strategies are not designed to deliver the highest results. Some for lack of polishing a small aspect of the strategy or missing a minor ingredient turn into a disaster. 

If you choose a particular strategy you are deciding to commit resources and effort to it, if it does not give you the highest returns then you should put your investments elsewhere. 

It is not an academic exercise

You can score an A for academic effort and still end up with disaster in your business. FedEx was worth only a C in the university! A good strategy is a mix of the best choice of initiatives, activities and approaches given your unique business context, market circumstances and other factors in the environment. That is why if you copied your competitor’s strategy even if you are in the same line of business it may not work. Remember that your context also changes over time and that which was a super idea last year may be the dumbest idea this year and vice versa.  

Be creative and bold. 

To be creative you don’t need to be an originator of anything but, if you borrow an idea make it better than the way you got it or get ways of ensuring it gives you more results. That is what I mean by creativity. Never borrow other people’s mediocrities and make them yours! 
However you do it let someone challenge your assumptions. Incorporate what no one else in your industry is doing. Borrow concepts from other industries. Be abnormal. Be ambitious. Be bold. 

Be open and ready for surprises - good and bad. 

Your strategy need to be flexible and open to further development and adaptation to changes in the arena that it will be executed in. Many businesses are not growing just because they never change their strategy with changing times. If the bridge is swept just before you cross it you need to make a provision for other ways of getting to the other side. The business environment is extremely fluid. If your strategy doesn’t have room for improvement and adaptation it will be the best weapon to kill your business. 

Test it. 

This is a painful lesson for many business owners. Don’t risk too much if you haven’t tried the strategy in real life. That which was medicine in the laboratory might turn out poisonous to the intended patients. Finally, If your strategy does not excite you and scare you at the same time maybe your business would do well without it. 

Sam Kariuki is the CEO of Growth Partners, a sales and business consultancy firm in Nairobi. Email

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