As Henry Mintzberg says that “strategy is a pattern in a stream of decisions”. Without a direction to head for you won’t know if you’re achieving your goals, so you have to set out your plans for the next 12 months, 2 years etc. And it would be nice if you could plan your business, work that plan and everything turn out exactly as you had envisaged.. but life ain’t like that!
I remember starting my virtual assistance business. I have background in planning and continuous improvement so the first thing I did was brainstorm a long list of things I needed to do, and from that, created a plan of what I needed to do over the next 12 months, thinking that if I achieved everything on the plan, I would have clients coming out of my ears, before I could count to ten! I did get some clients and we worked well together, but my pipeline wasn’t as perfect as I had planned.
And that’s because you don’t manage your business in a vacuum, but within an environment which interacts with it, and you do your best to take advantage of the opportunities, while minimising the threats.
So, while I was trying to be all things, to all people, I wasn’t concentrating on creating my niche and focusing on what my ideal client wanted. I was trying to compete with low cost Virtual Assistants, providing admin support, rather than using my knowledge and experience to differentiate my services into a higher value offering, so my realised strategy didn’t align with how I had intended it to be.
Some of your intended strategy becomes your realised strategy, but other elements fall by the wayside as you learn more, or change direction in some way. At the same time you take advantage of those opportunities and new elements of your strategy emerges to form a more deliberate strategy that moves your business along.
So, during my second year in business, I had the opportunity to work with a business coach, to look at my business and identify my niche and I jumped at the chance. I always knew that the VA business is an industry, rather than a job title, so was excited to see how I could adapt my strategy to serve my ideal clients.
This is why it’s important to regularly review where you are going and whether it aligns with your strategy. If it doesn’t, is it your strategy which needs tweaking, or have you started along a path that will take your business in another direction, rather than the one you had envisaged.
Instead of trying to be all things to all people, with the help of my coach, I identified that there were a lot of entrepreneurs who didn’t have a social media strategy, who hadn’t yet identified their niche and didn’t have systems in place to help them manage their businesses effectively. I knew that with my masters in business administration and corporate background I had these skills and that I could help others grow their business, so I adapted my strategy and re-planned my content marketing in order to attract my ideal clients.
In this digital age your strategy must include your online presence, because even if you do have a bricks and mortar business you will still need to market your business online and within the online global marketplace, that business is going to need to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even if you’re not!
You will have to think about your branding, and make sure everything you create online reflects and is true to your brand. You need to clearly identify the niche you are marketing to, and understand exactly what they want and how they want it, then you need to understand what types of content you are going to use to market your business, which social media platforms you are going to promote on and the frequency that you will post new content.
When I changed my niche, I also had to think about my brand, was my content marketing appealing to the right audience and was I posting on the right platforms and groups.
Sales pages are an integral part of making your business profitable, so you will need to create your sales funnel to enable you to take your ideal customers on a journey through your product or service offerings. This may be just one sales page, with all your products, or you may decide to have separate sales pages for each product, or even a combination of both. For me, I decided to separate into different service offerings, to make it easier for my clients to find exactly what they were looking for.
Alongside your sales pages, implementing an e-commerce system makes the selling of your digital or physical products much more streamlined. There are a number of different products and automating the delivery of digital products or the physical ordering from the warehouse, helps your business be available to your customers throughout the day and night.
To keep your business at the forefront of your customers mind you will want to regularly communicate with your customers. There are a number of different email marketing providers which can used to send out monthly newsletters and regular updates on your behalf. I currently use mailerlite, but have used both mailchimp, convertkit and infusionsoft at some point.
Most social media platforms and search engines provide analytics so that you can monitor for trends and understand which bits of your strategy is working and which areas need greater focus. This is an important part of your strategy, as it is a waste of your time, energy and resources if the content you are marketing is not seeing the results you desire. You can also set up google analytics for your website and social networking sites.
All of this takes time and effort, both of which you may feel would be better spent on creating and refining your goods and services! Rather than feeling overwhelmed with all you need to do, or start procrastinating because you don’t know where to start, there is another way.
Outsourcing these non-core activities gives you the freedom to concentrate on creating new products or services, to relax and look after your mental and physical well-being or to spend time with friends and family, who wouldn’t want to do that!
My mission is to help you take back your time, to continue to love your business, rather than seeing it as a chore and to provide online solutions that give you the freedom to make your dreams a reality.
I can help you develop your strategy, to review what you currently have in place and create a plan against marketing best practice, so that you can identify ways in which to grow your business.
If you’re spending lots of time on social media, but you’re not getting results, I can plan your social media, create your content editorial calendar and schedule your posts, so that your business is working for you, even when you’re not!
I can help to implement systems and manage them on a monthly basis so that you can grow your business without too much effort. Once you’ve automated, you can then take time off without worrying that your business is having to take a back seat while you’re away.
If you’d like to know more about creating and implementing your business strategy, why not sign up to my “know your business, to grow your business” check sheet HERE>>
This business barometer will help you to identify your priorities and set your goals for the next 90 days and beyond, helping you focus on setting your short term goals and creating your long term strategy
If you are feeling overwhelmed with what to do next, or just want some help to create your stratgey, why not join my 6-week program, Building your Savvy Business Strategy, a 1:1 program, which takes an depth look at all areas of your business and where you will:
- Review where you are and want to get to in your business, and understand your current business model
- Start to interpret the data, so you can understand what’s working well and adjust where necessary
- Analyse your social media content, so you have a strong foundation on which to build
- Model your business against best practices, so you can identify opportunities for improvement
- Devise a 90-day roadmap, so you can start to implement a long-term strategy to grow your business
- Learn how to implement your own business strategy, so you can feel organised and focused
I will guide you through evaluating your business, identifying your ideal customer, and supporting development of the strategy you need to improve and grow a sustainable business.