Navigating today’s economic reality with purpose requires business owners, leaders and professionals to understand what they want to achieve, why and how they will reach their destination. Your purpose is your why. Why you want to achieve specific results; why you want to product/deliver specific products/services; why this is important to all of your key stakeholders (your business, your shareholders, your customers, your employees, your suppliers, your community).
Knowing your why is the first step in building a resilient business. Next, it is important to understand what is happening around you – what factors can you control, and what factors are out of your control. Over the past three years, the covid-19 pandemic has controlled many factors we have faced. Today, globally we are facing high inflation, a labour shortage and a pending recession. Our success, particularly in the short-term, is determined on how we react to each of these factors.
Giving the significance of these three key external factors, are you feeling like you are moving from one challenge to the next with no time to work on your business? Have you experienced changes in what and how customers are purchasing from you? Is the labour shortage impacting your ability to deliver?
Taking the First Step — A Plan
A reactionary system, where you’re working in your business won’t enable you to get the upper hand and navigate today’s reality successfully. Instead you will remain twisted in the weeds. As a business leader, it is vitally important for you to set aside some time, as difficult as that may seem, work on your business. During this time you will want to assess where you are today and where you want to go, how you will get there and what action steps you will need to take so that you limit the negative impact of today’s economy, while being more aware of, and capitalizing on opportunities that arise.
According to Devesh Dwivedi, Senior Business Advisor, BDC Advisory Services, in order for a business to face the uncertainty we are facing globally, business leaders need to have a great plan. In fact, if you don’t have a plan you will not reach your destination (aka the results, outcomes you want to achieve).
Creating a strong and effective plan is not a one time activity devised from a strategic retreat. Instead, your plan is a living document which requires you to answer key questions based on today’s reality. It also must be reviewed and updated regularly. Too often business and strategic plans are created and placed on a shelf or in a computer folder never to be looked at again.
Areas to Cover in Your Plan
To make the most of the time you have available, there are five key areas that make the most sense for you to focus on to put your best foot forward.
1. Value Proposition
Your value proposition, also known as your unique selling proposition (USP) identifies how you are different and better than your competitors. What extra value do you bring to the table that others do not? When asked, many businesses claim the same 3 factors — lowest price, better product/services, great customer service. These do not set you apart. It may take you more time and a deeper dive to really identify your true value proposition! Working with a business consultant or coach may be of help.
Who do you serve? What are your customers’ buying habits — today not last year? Where are they buying i.e., in store, at events, or online? How are prices and inflation impacting your customer’s buying habits? Are they buying the same items or have their wants and needs changed?
These are some critical questions to ask yourself that will help you identify if you are in fact reaching your customers effectively where they want to buy, and are you offering what they want or need. With a global shift of customers buying more online, do you have a clear strategy and plan to address this growing shift?
Taking a hard look at today’s reality and evaluating how you are sourcing, producing and delivering supplies, resources and products/services is important. This will help identify where you are experiencing gaps or have opportunities for improvement. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself. What is the current reality that you are facing? Is your business producing and delivering your products and services with the greatest efficiency? What steps can be improved or automated to save time and resources while delivering great customer service and/or supporting your team? Have you been experiencing disruptions in your supply chain? What about recruitment and retention? How are you attracting and retaining employees, and keeping them happy?
4. SWOT Analysis
Conducting a SWOT analysis enables you to assess the risks and opportunities that your business currently faces – both internally and externally. Once you conducted this assessment, you can then prepare for the risks and capitalize on the opportunities.
5. Set Your Priorities
With everything we are facing as business leaders, we can’t do it all. We have to identify what is the best use of our time, energy, resources and will create the most effective outcomes. Priorities can be set based on how quickly efforts create high quality results and which take advantage of opportunities that you are facing right now. Alternatively, you can look at longer term changes that will take more time, money or effort to achieve the results you want.
Lastly, Your Action Plan
Now you have assembled key information into your Plan, it is important to identify how and when you will execute changes needed to deliver the outcomes. Until a plan is executed it is a dream. Unfortunately it won’t get you to your desired destination through osmosis. Your action plan is most effective when it follows the S.P.A.R.K framework.
Set Your Goals (Destination)
Plan — Identify which tasks need to be done, who is responsible for each task, the timelines associated with each task, what resources you have available (realistically, not ideally), and how you will monitor the results so you know when you succeed.
Activate Your Plan — Execution of your plan is critical to positioning your business for short and long-term success in a volatile economy.
Review Your Progress — Not everything works as planned so its important to regularly monitor the steps being taken and the outcomes that result. If gaps are identified or problems arise, the action plan needs to be adjusted and reimplemented until you achieve the desired results.
Kaizen — Kaizen is the Japanese term for continual improvement. What actions will you need to take to continually improve your business to be successful. Leadership and communication will be pivotal components to this phase of the process. Continual improvement happens most easily when systems and people work together for a common outcome and meet the wants and needs of your customers, and other stakeholders.
Do you have a business or strategic plan? Is it current? Is it positioned to help you navigate the current economic reality so you can be agile and purposeful in the actions you take to achieve the short and long term results you intend?
If you don’t have a current plan, or require some support in getting it done and executed, don’t leave things to chance! Let’s figure out how you can build resiliency, efficiency and success into your business. I invite you to book an Ignition Call to learn more on what we offer and how it can assist you.