Whether you run your own business or are part of a larger organisation, there are some fundamentals that must be part of your plan to give you a chance of long-term productivity and success. These are the five key areas that most organisations and teams need to plan for:
1. Marketing/sales: You require the ability to be positioning and communicating with your desired target market 24/7/365; and making it easy for them to buy.
2. Finance: Ensuring that the numbers and the key drivers for profit and efficiency are clear and well understood.
3. Human resources (HR): Having the right type of people in the right places. Making sure there is an element of flexibility and everything is not automated but rather is people-based and at its best level.
4. Operation: How are you going to deliver your product/service reliably and predictably, so that you are building a strong reputation and profit?
5. Strategy: This is the foundation on which everything else is built. It all starts here, continuously.
Of these five key areas, most businesses start from the top and work down; that is, they start with marketing and end with strategy. They think attracting clients is step 1, so they spend way too much time and energy on marketing, rather than starting and driving the business from strategy and working up. It’s a very common cause of people hitting the wall and not knowing where to go next. They didn’t think about the ‘What if…?’ There was no Plan B. They didn’t pause and take a breath at the beginning.
It’s pivotal to go strategy up, not marketing down. Marketing down is just a dumping ground for cash – you may think that’s a great place to start, but then people don’t know where to go next.
Starting from strategy puts you in a better position to be winning the game. Strategy is about the mid and long term, not the short term. Short term is for those businesses that are at the crossroads; they are in a difficult space because they didn’t develop their strategy at the outset. They are taking a breath and looking back two years and seeing nothing but problems – because they didn’t take a breath at the beginning and look forward two years. Taking a breath is about knowing where are you going in the next 12, 24, 36 and 60 months.
If you spend more time being clear about your strategy for sustainable and controlled growth, then every aspect of your operations and systems will deliver the right results. Your use of resources and people will be at the highest level, leading to the right outcomes and increased profitability.
This then allows your marketing to attract the next wave of growth, which you are prepared for because you have the right strategy in place – rather than driving waves of people to your door when you’re not properly set-up to handle them. That’s a recipe for disaster, because not only do you miss out on the work and you’ve wasted your marketing budget, you’ve also damaged the reputation of your business by conducting a marketing campaign without having the plans and systems in place to handle the clients who turned up at your door.
If you start with marketing and you’re attracting lots business by conducting a marketing campaign without having the plans and systems in place to handle the clients who turned up at your door. If you start with marketing and you’re attracting lots of opportunity but you haven’t thought through your HR and your delivery, you will be letting down the people you have attracted. That’s a result of a desire for quick growth, which will result in quick problems. It’s not a recipe for sustained and controllable productivity.
Your well-thought-out strategy allows you to fully understand how you are driving your business and to more frequently assess your position. The clearer you are the better you will be, the better your finances will be, the more money you will make and the more productive you will be. And your marketing will be better too, as will the innovation within your industry or target market that may be shifting – and it will.
Remember, it's pivotal to go strategy first, not marketing first.
Power to you this week.
Stefan Kazakis on 5 May 2018
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