Strategy, Decisions and Optimal Outcomes

Asking yourself the right questions is critical to developing the right strategy, making important decisions and driving optimal outcomes for your business.

Today, I want to lay out 10 questions you need to ask yourself when developing the right strategy.

The very first question is:

What is your vision?

Do you have clearly identifiable goals, aspirations and plans for your business?
Do you know exactly where it is that you want to be now, six months, twelve months and even five years in the future?
Do you know and have you identified the pathway that you and your business needs to achieve the goals and dreams that you have for yourself and for your business?

Question number two is:

What are your means, plans and capabilities for growth?

Do you have a roadmap that is going to lead you on the pathway to achieving growth?
Do you have the resources that are needed?
Do you have the cash flow?
Do you have the right time?
Have you planned and prepped your staff and trained your staff for the future to get you to where you want to go?

These things are important when you are looking for the right strategy to grow and achieve the dreams that you have for your business.

Some of the other things that you need to consider as well are: 
Do you have the right marketing plans and strategy?
Have you set timeframes?
When you have a marketing plan and strategy, and you go and implement that, have you taken into account the time and cash flow resources that are needed while you wait for revenue to start generating?

Question number three is:

What is it that you need to do more and less of?

Have you put in place metrics and key performance indicators (or KPIs) in your business?

Because those kinds of things are what will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses in your business. These will help you identify the additional inputs that you need and also the potential outputs that are driven from the activities that you’re currently doing.

So, it’s very critical that you identify what you need to do more of and what you need to do less of.

Question number four is:

What are the greatest threats to performance in your business?

Some of these threats could be internal or external. Examples of external threats are legislative changes. Financial services, for example, are very prone to legislative changes. Such changes are big threats to your performance, your revenue generation and how you conduct your business.

Another example could be things like Covid-19 which has completely affected many industries, with hospitality being one of the most impacted industries. Hotels and other hospitality businesses almost had to shut down because people couldn’t travel and people couldn’t go out and gather due to social distancing.

– What are the roadblocks that are within your business?
– What are the disruptions?
– Are there market shifts occurring in your business?

It’s critical that you identify what these threats are.

Question number five is:

What business systems do you need in your business? 

And this, again is an important question, because it will drive a lot of outcomes within your business. And it will obviously help based on other questions that we’ve just posed. 

A classic example is a CRM system that allows you to track what is happening with your customers.
– Do you have a system in place?
– Do you have standard operating procedures?
– If you were to lose a key member of your staff would you be able to replace that person because you have a system in place enabling you to easily train the new person with those systems?
– Are you developing some sort of automation?
– Are you developing some sort of artificial intelligence within your business?

As we’re moving into what’s called the ‘algorithmic age’ where machine learning is driving a lot of activities within business, do you have these business systems in place within your business that allow you to scale and grow, and allow you to achieve the outcomes and the vision that you have for your business?

Question number six is:

How are your customers or your consumers of your products changing?

It’s getting easier and easier for customers to basically swap over and change to a new supplier of their products or services. It’s easy for them to go elsewhere. As soon as you drop the ball, they’re out and they’ll find someone else to replace you.

So, what are you doing to meet your customers’ expectations?
What are you doing to enhance the experience that your customers are having with your business and product?

In the world that we live in now, many people are becoming socially responsible. Depending on your type of product and service, how are you meeting those demands? How are you personalising the services and the products within your business to ensure that you are keeping up with the demands and the needs of your customers?

Question number seven is:

What will your customers want and need in the future?

So again, building a customer experience. But, I think what you need to be doing here is thinking ahead and building your services and products now, not only to serve the current needs and wants of your customers, but also their future needs and wants.
So, you’ve got to be conducting market research. You’ve got to be conducting surveys. You’ve got to be asking your customers questions like:

– What is it that you need now?
– What is it that you think you’re going to need in the future?

Speaking to your suppliers as well is another source of help.
They might be able to tell you what they’re doing to prepare their businesses for the future and your future needs.
So, going out and asking a lot of questions and doing market research are critical and important.

Question number eight is:

What is your value proposition or your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

What are you doing to differentiate and stand out from your competitors?
As I mentioned, it’s very easy for your customers to pick up, and move, and go somewhere else. You need to be providing a service and experience that your customers are not going to be able to get anywhere else. That is critical.

Differentiating yourself is what’s going to be important to you. And at the same time, not only differentiating yourself, but it’s then, delivering on that service proposition that you have. You can’t just be different, but you’ve got to be delivering exceptional service based on what you say you’re going to do. So, if you say you’re going to do something, it means backing that up and ensuring that you do that.

Question number nine is:

How are you evolving and improving your products and services?

You can’t be offering the same product year in and year out.
You’ve got to be constantly changing and improving while considering things like market shifts and changes to the economy, etc. We’ve currently got Covid-19 affecting a lot of businesses, and a lot of businesses have had to pivot and change. Some of them have had to completely go into a new industry.

What are you doing within your business to constantly stay abreast of what’s happening in the market?
Is your product meeting the needs of your customers?
What are you doing to constantly ensure that you will stay relevant?
That is, what are you doing to ensure that your product, your business, your service will constantly stay relevant and that you meet the needs and wants of your customers?

And then, very lastly, question number 10 is:

Are you empowering and utilising the talent within your business?

This relates to your human resources. Are you promoting creativity? Are you encouraging staff to come to you with new ideas? That’s critical and important.

To paraphrase what Steve Jobs famously said, We don’t just hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people because we want them to tell us what to do. That’s why they are the smarter people.

It might mean that you need to bring in new talent, hire smarter people or maybe bring in consultants that can help because they have expertise in a particular area. And then, going back to your existing team and maybe tapping into them. You might ask them for their input and ideas because they may have a few. They work in your business. They know your business probably inside out, almost as good as you do.

So, are you tapping into the wealth of knowledge and experience that they have within your business?

These are the 10 questions that I’ve laid out that you can use to develop your strategy, make better decisions and hopefully achieve optimal performance within your business.

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