Developing a competitive strategy in business is ultimately what separates those that merely survive from those that grow and thrive. It is what makes a business successful. Essential to operating any business, the strategy must be carefully thought out and implemented in a manner that keeps customers returning and competitors at bay.
Operating without a strategy is tantamount to going to war without training. Also consider that business strategy is concerned with establishing competitive advantage. Having a strategy in mind is not enough, however, business owners should write out their specific strategies that outline the methods, procedures, technologies, and other staples needed to run a successful business. So what should a good action plan or business strategy look like? The three essential components for developing such a strategy include Education, Evaluation, and Execution.
Education is far more than formal training, certifications and degrees. Consistently staying abreast of what is current and relevant in your industry is a must for any business strategy. While it is great to sign up for mailing lists and subscribe to blog posts, reading books will never be obsolete and should be a major part of your education. Professionals within your industry already have the experience and expertise; learn from them and gain a major advantage against your competitors by consuming what they offer in the form e-books, webinars, workshops, podcasts, tutorials, and hardcovers.
Most times, the only cost is your time. And, the residual gains received far outweigh any minimal investment you may make for paid services. There are plenty of free to low cost resources for entrepreneurs to use online regardless of market. Education is a continual process, but after you have achieved a comfortable level of educating yourself and learning what you can from the experts, you will need to move on to evaluating yourself.
Evaluation requires you to take an honest, unbiased audit of your company and services / products you provide. How can you incorporate what you have been learning into your business to get a higher return on investment? Spending the time to evaluate yourself honestly will save you time in the next phase. Address any outstanding or lingering issues that could be an obstacle.
The goal of this phase is to make sure you have set your self up for success. You have what it takes and can compete in your field at some level. This will require you to make goals with time limits and measure how well you’ve met this goals. In your education phase, you should have become acquainted with industry norms and requirements to compete. Here is where you will use that to measure yourself against it. How can you implement steps in their strategy within your own plan? Should you implement some of their technology? How can you adapt successful points in their strategy in your own?
Once you can answer these questions comfortably, moving on to Execution is important. All of the knowledge in the world will do you no good without you using it to your benefit. Using the knowledge gained from the education and evaluation phase, constructing a competitive strategy is logically the next step. But you also have all of the tools to create a plan that incorporates relevant use of technology and the information gleaned from pioneers in your field. It is often said that knowledge is power, but more accurately “proper use of knowledge is where the power lies.”