No matter what market or industry you’re in, running a small business can be tough. Because competition and consumer demands are so high, you’re constantly looking for ways to increase market share and grow the business.
But what can you do on a strategic level that will have a big impact? Quite a bit, actually. One thing many business owners fail to realize is the importance of having a mission statement, and recognizing their value proposition.
Having a well thought out mission statement and refining your value proposition are just two business strategy building tips that, in the long run, will help you save money and grow your business. Here are some tips on how to get started on doing both.
1. Identify Your Company's Core Values
The main idea here is to determine an overall value proposition for your organization. A good value proposition focuses on the promise you make to your customers in terms of the products, services and value you aim to deliver. This goal is to give you a leg up over the competition by describing what sets you apart, and how you’re in a unique position to solve a specific problem for consumers.
In that respect, value propositions go far beyond a short slogan or positioning statement. The key is living up to the proposition, as by doing so you’ll gain the trust of customers and create long-lasting relationships. Eventually they’ll view your business as the “go-to” solution for whatever problem your company is dedicated to solving.
2. Define Your Company’s Vision
This typically comes in the form of a vision statement. This should be a clear declaration of what a company, business or organization wants to achieve or become in the future. This is not to be confused with a mission statement, which is geared towards how your company intends to achieve that vision from an operational perspective. However, the two are closely related because while the vision statement provides a plan for the future, the mission statement outlines the company’s purpose and how it will achieve that vision. The two major components to every vision statement should be your core values and core purpose. For example, Tesla’s core values might include being environmentally sustainable, while a core purpose would be providing affordable electric automobiles to the mass market.
3. Write a Mission Statement Describing Your Company's Purpose
Here’s where you want to get more specific as to how your company plans to achieve your vision. Mission statements are crucial because it will determine the company’s direction as far as day to day activities. It will act as a “North Star” for the organization; a common set of goals that everyone is working towards. A good mission statement will also include time horizons for achievement of these goals, and provide a template for decision making so that people are working in harmony and not overstepping boundaries. It also provides alignment for new employees joining the company, so they know exactly what your company stands for and where it’s headed.
Finally, mission statements are crucial because they actually encourage positive change within an organization. With everyone working towards the same goal, individuals are more likely to come up with new ideas and innovations to help attain that goal more quickly and efficiently.
4. Complete a Meaningful SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis will allow you to get a clear picture of the competitive landscape where your business resides. SWOT is comprised of the following four elements: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The strengths and weaknesses portion of the analysis are based on your own internal factors. What is your company great at? What are the weak points? You’ll then be able to cross-reference these with the external factors, which are opportunities and threats. Are there any markets or customers that you currently haven’t captured that can be viewed as potential future opportunities? Who are the competitors in your market, and how might they be threats to your future success?
5. Create a Strategic Roadmap Using the Right Tools
Here is where you want to take on the blocking and tackling of how you’ll achieve your mission and fulfill your vision. You’ll need to utilize certain tools and techniques to create a strategic plan that directs the entire organization, from executives down to front line workers. Consider using project management methodologies such as Kanban, for instance, to break down projects into manageable steps and assign them to the right people. Overall you’ll need to learn how to implement, evaluate and review a strategic plan that’s designed to get things from point A to point B. Make sure you understand tools related to your plan, like strategy maps and the balanced scorecard, and how they can contribute to your plan in meaningful ways. A strategy map is basically a visual tool designed to communicate a strategic plan in a simple, visual format. It’s one of the most crucial tools to achieving high-level business goals/objectives, and one of the best way to create a unified strategy (a must for businesses of any size).
Following these steps are important because they will help guide most facets of the decision making process in your business. Mission and vision statements, SWOT analyses and strategic maps will ensure that you invest in the proper assets that will help take you to the promised land. Investing time and energy upfront in detailed strategic planning will save you a ton of money because you won’t undertake any faulty endeavors that don’t align with your company’s core values and mission.