Written by: Kiesha King-Brown, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Having tangible goals and evidence of traction relative to timelines and vision is even more important for small businesses than large corporations. A solid strategy gives clarity to prioritization, is necessary to get investor partnership, and helps make a case for a higher valuation. Yet, small businesses are much less likely to have a formal strategy in place.
Strategy in day-to-day business life as we traditionally know it enables the path to success. It can also ensure that small businesses are focused on the right tasks that align with the actual business lifecycle stage they are in and where they may be headed.
In the Seed or Development stage, business strategy is about business planning, ensuring market need, and determining business structure. The Start-Up stage prioritizes client relationships, processes, value proposition, establishing KPIs, and other key strategic aspects. Growth Stage strategy includes focusing on what sells best, core business areas, and streamlining operations. Expansion strategy is about gaining market share, and strategy in the Maturity stage determines expansion or exit once cash flow becomes negative.
Strategy reflective of the correct business stage, in the correct timing, keeps small businesses on purpose, so they don’t become one of the 50% that don’t make it past year 5.
Strategy in the midst of uncertainty and economic disruption serves a dual purpose. It provides guidance for success in the form of survival. And it shields business owners and leaders from many of the distractions that could significantly cause the business to digress.
It allows small businesses to focus on strategic direction and goals coupled with contingency plans, experience, and partnership. And oh, by the way, it minimizes panic and stress, improving efficiency in challenging times. Businesses must have a foundational strategy that is agile to meet changing circumstances and customer expectations. Thus, the strategy shifts from blueprint…to direction in the form of guidance.
There are key things to keep in mind in times of challenge relative to strategy.
Focus on what you can impact:
1. Understand what can be transitioned to an online experience
2. Innovate how the experience can be more engaging online and more experiential
3. Decide what tactics could be used to increase sales based on changing customer needs
4. Increase personal connection with customers in-person and online through-
Live Chats and Events, Webinars, Social Media
Follow Up Communication
5. Revisit/Find ways to Improve marketing strategy
Localize market research
Assess execution against current customer expectations
6. Lean into Digital Transformation
Increase Speed, Improve Interaction
7. Increase level of Data Analysis and Application from Contact Forms, CRM, etc.
Determine who has valid interest
Assess who is ready to buy now
8. Implement a Lead Nurturing Process to develop strategic messaging that initiates and sustains relationships with your Brand
9. Invest in technology that will improve productivity and help differentiate you from the competition to help acquire additional customers and loyalty
10. Be more routine about understanding what the competition is doing from all aspects around the customer
11. Have a list of internal and external business partners designated as ‘think tank’ partners that can help you innovate ways to adjust to changing environments and continue to generate income with less staff, virtually, with supplier issues, with reduced hours, etc.
12. Partner with a big company and some of its freelancers or contract workers in advance in case you need contingency resources
Make strategy a priority and constant necessity so that as circumstances vary, your business shifts from blueprint to directional guidance vs. success to survival.
Differentiated Consulting helps Retail and Small Businesses pivot strategically for continued success. Kiesha King-Brown is also COO of iDue Systems, who helps small business owners take the guesswork out of each step of the Life Cycle stages with its intelligent digital coaching solution PillarFive.com.
Kiesha King-Brown, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kiesha King-Brown is an experienced Business Executive that partners to help small business owners accelerate growth with strategic, AI-enhanced consulting to spend more time working on the business than in the business and spend more time doing the things they enjoy. She has an MBA in Management, BSBA in Marketing, and holds certifications in Consulting and Executive Coaching. She draws her inspiration from 20 years of experience at Fortune 200 companies in Executive Leadership and HR positions helping leaders build strategies, enhance development, and grow their business. Kiesha is the author of "Differentiated Leadership," an Advisory Board Member for a Talent Management SaaS company, and Chief Relationship Development Officer for a Business Development SaaS company.