What Is a Business Strategy and How To Create One

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Most companies today seem to chase after the dream of becoming the next unicorn or award-winning innovator. But what most don’t realize is this— without a rock-solid business strategy, most of these dreams are just clout.

Creating a well-crafted and highly competitive strategy might not seem as sexy, but it certainly moves the needle. This article will thoroughly define business strategy and look at crafting one that skyrockets your business success.

So, if you’re ready to grow your business to the next level, take a step back from wanting to become “the next Facebook or Apple.” Let’s focus on business development strategy fundamentals that bring growth.

What is a Business Strategy?

How we define strategy is foundational to this whole conversation, so let’s start with a clear definition of a strategy. 

A good business strategy is a well-thought-out plan and a set of actions to help a company or organization achieve specific organizational goals and business objectives.

Read More: Tackling Small Business Struggles with Project Management Software

An effective business strategy will provide a roadmap that will guide you and your team to allocate resources, make better decisions, and create initiatives that maximize the company’s potential.

At its core, a good business strategy will help a business achieve corporate objectives, clarify its core values, define what success looks like, gain a competitive advantage, or reach new growth levels.

Is a Business Strategy a Business Plan?

There are several overlaps between a business strategy and a business plan, but they’re not necessarily the same thing. 

A business strategy focuses more on the overall direction of an organization.  On the other hand, a plan will focus more on the specific steps needed in strategy implementation and the resources needed to do so. 

Many business strategies have some key aspects of business planning embedded into them, but their purposes are very different. A strategy helps you move towards a result whilst a plan is there to help you complete a process.

7 Reasons Why You Need a Business Strategy

A solid business strategy definition is great, but it’s not enough. A more important question is, “Why is a business strategy important?” Let’s look at the top reasons why you need a business strategy.

1. Define Your Vision and Goals

Having a clear business strategy helps you define what your vision and goals look like. You can then proceed to align the efforts of all employees and stakeholders towards that common vision and goal. 

When you clarify why the business exists, people rally towards that. Having this synergy in your own company is one of the key components to success. That’s because it ensures everyone works coherently to build together. 

A collective effort often results in greater productivity and accountability, enabling people to operate at their absolute best and contribute with little to no internal friction.

2. Understand the Industry or Market

Successful businesses share many non-negotiable traits, one being market understanding. A customer-centric company often thrives amidst the hardest times because it knows what people want and how to deliver it.

Before developing a marketing strategy, you need to know what the market wants. Having a business strategy in place will give you that understanding through deep research, analysis, and insight.

3. Gain a Competitive Advantage

A well-crafted business strategy allows you to identify a competitive advantage. This edge could include unique strengths and differentiators that set you apart from competitors. 

Amidst competitive industries, knowing what makes your company stand out enables you to compete effectively. Understanding this advantage helps a business position itself effectively in the market and attract its target customers.

4. Adapt to Changes 

The business landscape is constantly changing, especially in this modern digital age. Changes like artificial intelligence, growing competition, digital transformation, and globalization are forcing businesses to adapt like never before. 

One Harvard Business School study showed that 71% of 1,500 executives said adaptability was the most important trait in a leader. A solid strategy will allow its leaders and the organization to adapt as needed. 

5. Allocate Resources Better

A company’s resources will always be finite, so you must move them towards projects that produce the best results. With a resource management strategy in place, it’s clearer where you should allocate resources. 

These resources could include finances, human capital, time, and technology. Having a strategic approach promotes efficiency and avoids waste on non-essential activities.

6. Alleviate the Brunt of Risks 

Business always involves managing risks and finding ways to minimize their effects on a business or prepare for them. Business strategies often involve creating comprehensive analyses of potential risks and challenges. 

When you can anticipate hurdles and risks, you don’t succumb to harmful after-effects on your brand, organization structure, or profits.

7. Make Better Decisions

Strategic planning helps you and your teams make better decisions. That’s because business strategy relies heavily on information and moves away from faulty intuition. 

These data and insights remove bias and hearsay that could cloud leaders’ judgment and allow them and their teams to make guided decisions that generally produce better outcomes. As the old saying goes, “The numbers don’t lie.” 

7 Common Types of Business Strategies

Different business strategies can help your business move forward. Here are some of the most common types of business strategies and some business strategy examples to help you understand each one:

1. Corporate Level Strategy

A corporate strategy focuses on the big-picture direction of your business. It deals with bird’s eye view considerations, such as your business model, vision and mission, values, and long-term goals. 

This plan outlines your company’s track over the next ten years. Every business needs this to ensure that the business continues to have a bright future in the many years to come.

2. Cost Leadership Strategy

Sometimes, success depends on being the company that produces products at the lowest price possible. This type of business strategy focuses on becoming the low-cost producer in the industry. 

This example of a business strategy aims to minimize production and operational costs. This will help your profit margins or drop prices to attract more price-conscious customers.

3. Differentiation Strategy

Too many businesses focus on being “the best” or “the first” at something. It’s a lot easier to be “the only,” meaning having a unique brand or offer. 

Companies should aim to differentiate their products or services from competitors in ways that customers value. This way, a company can charge a premium price and build brand loyalty and preference.

Here are some ways to implement a differentiation business strategy:

  • Offer unique features
  • Produce high-quality products
  • Provide memorable experiences to your customers
  • Give stellar support
  • Create innovative solutions

4. Focus Strategy

Another example of a business strategy is a focus or niche strategy. This approach to business strategy involves targeting a specific segment of the market. 

Focusing on a niche helps you allocate efforts and resources to reach a smaller group. You can focus on an untapped market or determine one that’s willing to pay a higher premium for your products or services. 

For instance, if customer insights tell you that people aged 18 to 25 with a college education prefer your product, you can create strategic partnerships with educational institutions to reach your audience.

5. Expansion Strategy

Using this business strategy involves entering new markets and finding opportunities to broaden your company’s customer base. That might require understanding different cultures, country regulations, and market dynamics.

6. Innovation Strategy

One study shows that 84% of executives say innovation is central to their growth. That’s why some companies try to implement an innovation strategy. This approach centers on continuous innovation and development. 

An innovation strategy often aims to develop new products, services, or processes. Doing so can give your organization a competitive edge and attract more forward-thinking customers.

7. Growth Strategy

Having a growth strategy means expanding your company’s market share, customer base, and overall reach. This involves driving traffic, increasing sales, market penetration, mergers, and acquisitions.

How to Develop a Successful Business Strategy (Step-by-Step)

If you’re looking to implement or restructure your business strategy more effectively, here’s a simple framework for business strategy developing to follow:

1. Determine What Problem You Want to Solve

Every strategy begins with a problem— an itch or pain point in the organization you want to solve. Do you want to improve sales figures, cut operational costs, lower employee turnover, or increase brand reputation?

Take time to observe problems in and around your organization. Talk to your target market, employees, customers, coaches, and experts to find problems holding your company back from greater growth or success.

2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Arguably, a SWOT analysis is the best way to evaluate the internal and external forces that directly impact your company. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 

Running a SWOT analysis will identify areas where your business excels and areas that need improvement. It will also give you a glimpse into potential growth opportunities and challenges.

3. Set Goals

Your next step is establishing clear and achievable business goals based on your vision and SWOT analysis. These objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Make these goals front and center from start to finish. Many businesses make the mistake of making them clear initially and losing them along the way. The key to a successful business strategy is focusing on your goals.

4. Choose Your Business Strategy

The next step is to review all your vision, opportunities, threats, and goals and decide which strategy will help you the most. Do you need a cost leadership strategy, focus strategy, or any other strategies mentioned above? 

Sometimes, The temptation might be to switch strategies when a newer and shinier opportunity presents itself. But it’s good practice to commit to your strategy once you implement them. Try to avoid strategy envy like the plague. 

5. Develop Action Plans

Once you’ve decided on your strategy, you and your business team should break down your strategy into actionable steps. 

Create detailed action plans for each aspect of your business, and decide on resources you’ll deploy for each one. Assign responsibilities to team members and establish timelines for implementation.

6. Monitor and Measure Progress

Your business strategy might look different on paper and during implementation. That’s why you should also regularly monitor the progress of your strategy. When you’re not hitting milestones or targets, find ways to optimize your strategy.

As you see points of improvement, make necessary adjustments. That doesn’t mean you have to change the whole strategy. Sometimes, making small tweaks can greatly change the course of your project.

7. Celebrate the Win

Celebrating the win is important at the end of a project or strategy implementation. Creating this tradition in your business gives your team members a sense of accomplishment and reinforces the importance of completing an objective.

Your celebrations don’t have to be extravagant. They can include simple programs such as: 

  • Verbally recognizing key role players at work
  • Organizing a team lunch, dinner, or fun outdoor activity
  • Handing out awards and certificates
  • Giving simple gifts and tokens as incentives
  • Creating a recognition wall 
  • Sharing success stories at work
  • Writing thank you notes
  • Giving extended time off
  • Giving financial bonuses
  • Handing out promotions and raises to top performers

Tools that Help in Business Strategy Creation

When creating or running a strategic business plan, using certain business development tools can help improve productivity. Here are some recommended tools for business strategy planning and implementation:

Strategy Mapping Software

A digital strategy mapping software is a tool that visually represents your business strategy and gives teams a clearer path for the entire plan. Tools like Leantime allow organizations to create strategy maps that connect to their programs & projects in order to align both strategic planning and execution.

Data Analytics Tools

Data analytics tools are great for analyzing market trends, customer behavior, and industry insights. Popular tools like Google Analytics, Tableau, and Microsoft Power BI give you in-depth data visualization and analysis.

Market Research Platforms

Market research tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform help gather customer feedback and conduct market research to support your business strategy.

Competitor Intelligence Tools

Digital platforms like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and SimilarWeb give your company competitor analysis features. You can use these tools to understand your competitor’s strengths, strategies, keyword research, and traffic.

Project Management Software

Project management tools help businesses execute and monitor strategic initiatives. Choosing the right project management software allows you to effectively set milestones, manage tasks, and assign teams.

Digital Collaboration Platforms

Communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom facilitate communication among team members working on strategy development. 

You can have asynchronous communications through chat or real-time conversations with voice and audio conferences.

Final Thoughts

A well-crafted business strategy serves as the compass that guides an organization toward its goals, ensuring focus, adaptability, and long-term success.

Remember, a successful business strategy has to be tailor-fit to your context and needs. There’s never a one-size-fits-all strategy for any business. Keep it dynamic and adaptable, open to new opportunities and challenges.

A well-crafted business strategy will help your business navigate uncertainties, make informed decisions, and seize opportunities. So, invest in a strong business strategy, and you’ll likely have a thriving business.

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Gloria Folaron is the CEO and founder of Leantime. A Nurse first, she describes herself as an original non-project manager. Being diagnosed with ADHD later in life, she has hands on experience in navigating the world of project and product management and staying organized with ADHD.

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