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At the beginning and throughout the life of your business you will have to create strategies to give your self the best chance of success. These can be as formal or informal, whichever works for you but should never be underestimated or ignored. Your business strategy will feed into your business plan, will be a ‘working’ document and can be focused on the whole or certain areas of your business. 

1. What is a business strategy? 

Your business strategy is the plan outlining how you will achieve your business goals. To begin with these can be informal and in a format that works for you – a long form written documents, excel checklist, flow diagram etc. Set objectives and work backwards to detail how you can achieve these goals. If you are writing a business plan you will use your business strategy as part of this. 

2. How do I write a business strategy? 

Carrying out a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis is a great place to start. This can be focused on your industry as a whole, your individual business or your competitors. There’s a thousand different ways to cut the cake with this one so stay top line to start with and discover where you need to focus in on. 

3. What areas of my business should I have a strategy for? 

The short answer is all of them! These are the main ones to focus on when starting out. 
 
Overall business high-level strategy. This will include elements of each of the following and set out what your USP’s (unique selling points) are and how you’ll use them to get ahead. Set goals for your first 12 – 18 months to refer to when things get busy and you are bogged down in the day-to-day running of your business. 
Marketing strategy. Figure out how to communicate your message to the outside world. See our Marketing basics advice here. 
Pricing strategy. Trying to under cut the competition may get you a quick win however it is a dangerous game to start playing as you will create an environment that the only way is down. Competitors may find a way to provide good/services even cheaper and there is no way as a small/independent business you will be able to get prices lower than large multi-national conglomerates within your field. Using a low price point teamed with differentiation or niche targeting may be a wiser way to go. 
Social media strategy. This will fall under your marketing strategy but given the power of social media it is wise to have a separate section so you can really plan out how you will utilise social media to maximise its potential for your small business. 

4. Are strategies really worth the time taken away from my business? 

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." – Mike Tyson 
 
This quote may perfectly sum up how you feel when trying to come up with strategies during the early days. Remember strategies are made to be constantly evolving and reviewed continually. Set a strategy day in the diary every month to begin with – and make yourself show up for it! It’ll give you the reset you need and you’ll be able to identify problems and correct plans accordingly. We would leave some space on this day dedicated to research. For example, if your social media isn’t getting much traction put aside time to breakdown and research what competitors are doing, what business gurus advise and what the all mighty google thinks you should do. Also, within this day add thinking time by going for a walk without headphones in to think about the issue. It is very easy to not give yourself space to breath and consider your actions because you are too busy doing them! 
 
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