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business strategy

This is an excerpt from my ebook How To Write Your Strategy.


For the rest of my guide on how to write a comprehensive and effective Business Strategy for your startup head to my shop to buy the full book, which includes all the worksheets to help you work through your own Business Strategy.




In this ebook we’re going to cover a lot of ground. We’re going to learn what a Strategy actually is, why it’s important, how it’s made up of 6 different elements, and how to write your own to get your business on the path to success. In this introductory section, we’re going to set some foundations for all of that info by discussing what a Strategy is and what it is not.


Chapter 1: What Is A Business Strategy And What Is It Not?


What actually is Business Strategy?


A Business Strategy is like the circulatory system of your business, carrying information from the top of your plan to the bottom and connecting everything in between. It’s what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how. It’s a living, breathing part of your company that weaves together every department, every person, every Task. It’s the detailed plan of action that takes you from the time before you’ve even opened the (physical or metaphorical) doors to your business, to the day that you’ve achieved all the goals. It’s also a big part of the power that gets you to those goals.


Your Business Strategy tells you what to do today, how far you need to go, where and how far to go tomorrow, and how you’ve been doing on your progress since you started.


A business without a Strategy is like an empty shell that’s being blown down a road - it’s moving, sure, but there’s no control over where it’s going or when, and there’s nothing to stop it crashing into a wall and nothing to start it up again when it does.


What is a Business Strategy not?


I’ve interacted with a lot of businesses in my time that have confused a variety of different things for a Strategy. A Business Strategy is not a list of goals or OKRs, it’s not a Business Plan, it’s not a Financial Plan, and it’s not a Mission Statement.


It’s also not something you spend one week every January building and then never refer to again. Your Business Strategy needs daily attention and at least monthly adjustments. Let’s break each of these down.


A Strategy is not just a list of goals or OKRs.


There’s a line that I love from the book A Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:


“A goal without a plan is just a wish”.

A list of goals is just a list of wishes. You need the goals to know where you want to go but you’ll never get there without the rest of the plan. OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, is a framework for setting your goals that I’ll go into detail on in the coming chapters. A real Strategy includes not just the goals or OKRs, but also how you’re going to achieve them. In this ebook, I’ll show you both how goals fit into a Strategy and how they’re not the be-all-and-end-all of one.


A Strategy is not a Business Plan.


A Business Plan, despite what the name suggests, isn’t actually a plan in the truest definition of the word. A Business Plan contains 9 key elements:


An Executive Summary, a Personal Bio, a Problem Statement, a Solution Statement, a Target Market Map, a Competitive Analysis, Pricing calculations, a Financial Plan, and an overview of the Operating model.


Your Business Plan is important and it should be clear and detailed, but it’s mainly a summary and it’s oriented towards external eyes; it’s something that you share with potential sources of funding as an overview of the market opportunity and a general guide to how you intend on running the business.


Your Business Strategy, on the other hand, is the internal view and a true plan of all the single individual pieces of work that you’re going to do and when you’re going to do them. It contains too much information for an external person to view, which is where the Business Plan differs from the Strategy and adds value - by summarising the context in which you’re operating.


A Strategy is not a Financial Plan.


A Financial Plan and a Strategy must work together, but are two very separate pieces of work.


A Financial Plan lays out how much money is going to come into and go out of your business as you work to achieve your goals. Your Strategy lays out the Projects that will make up that work.


Without a Financial Plan, it would be impossible to know if you have the resources to achieve what you’re laying out in that plan, but without the Strategy telling you what steps to take every day, you won’t get to where you’re trying to be.


A Strategy is not a Mission Statement.


A Mission Statement is a tool for expressing why you’re doing all this hard work in the first place. It’s a statement of the value you see in what you’re trying to achieve and it explains why the world will be a better place with your business in it.


Like a Business Plan, a Mission Statement is suitable for external viewers, but it’s also a great tool for motivating your internal team.


A good Mission Statement will explain the purpose of your business and will help you attract customers and excite employees, but it’s a top-line overview, it doesn’t go into the detail on how and when you’ll be achieving the Mission that you’re laying out. Like your OKRs, a Mission Statement is a part of a Strategy, but only a part.


In this chapter I introduced the concept of a Strategy, namely that it’s the plan that tells you what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how.


I also covered the differences between a Business Strategy and a list of goals or OKRs, between a Strategy and a Business Plan, between a Strategy and a Financial Plan, and between a Strategy and a Mission Statement.


Now thatI’ve introduced the general idea of what a Business Strategy is and isn’t, I’ll break down the 6 elements of a Strategy and then look at how to build your own version.


Keep reading for Chapter 2 or buy the full book now.


how to write a strategy


Chapter 2: The 6 Elements Of A Business Strategy


In the last chapter, I introduced the concept of a Business Strategy by looking at what it is (the plan that tells you what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how) and what is it not (a list of goals or OKRs, a Business Plan, a Financial Plan, or a Mission Statement).


In this chapter, I'm going to lay out the 6 elements of a Business Strategy before I break them down, one-by-one, in the following chapters.


I’ve spent decades leading progress at successful high-growth companies and I’ve designed countless Business Strategies. Over the course of that work, I’ve refined and tested my approach and learned what works and what doesn’t.


I’ve taken all of that experience and turned it into one simple 6-Point Framework for Strategy design that will allow any business to clearly and thoroughly articulate these important things:


1. The work that needs to be done

2. Why it’s being done

3. Who is doing it

4. What progress has been made


There are 6 elements in the Pay As You Go COO 6-Point Strategy Framework. These are:


The Mission Statement

The Objectives

The Key Results

The Projects

The Tasks

Performance Management


I use a really simple visualisation for the Framework that looks like this:


strategy framework

When I first designed the Framework it was illustrated as a pyramid, with the Mission on the top and everything else underneath.


strategy framework

I changed to a left-to-right design because the pyramid implies that the Mission is the most important contributor to success.


Yes, the Mission is incredibly important for motivation and direction-setting, and it is definitely the first thing that you look at when you’re writing a Business Strategy, but, as I’ll show you in the next few sections, it’s all the Tasks that you’re completing, all the work that you’re chipping away at bit by bit, day by day, that will get your business to where it deserves to be.


Your day-to-day Tasks, what you focus on and prioritise every single day, will be the real drivers of success and the way that you manage the Performance of those Tasks will be the thing that determines how close you get.


strategy framework

As you can see from the diagram, there are six elements to my Strategy framework. These are six things that you need to have included to even be able to class what you’re doing as writing a ‘Business Strategy’. You’ll decide the details of each element, and they’ll look very different in different businesses, but without the element itself, you don’t actually have a Strategy.


In the next few chapters, I’ll introduce each of those elements and work through the diagram to show you how they all interact with each other. I’ll go into detail on each of them, one-by-one with examples, so that you can add the details into your own version.


These 6 elements are separated into two parts - the goal-setting part, encompassing the Mission Statement, the Objectives, and the Key Results, all of which state what your business is going to achieve, and the plan-setting part, encompassing the Projects, the Tasks, and Performance Management, all of which covers how you’re going to achieve it.


business strategy framework

These two parts cannot work effectively without the other. It’s often the case, though, that one person is better at putting together one half than the other.


Maybe you’re more of a ‘visionary’ and great at dreaming up big, exciting, inspiring Mission Statements but you’re less confident in the details. Perhaps you’re the opposite and you’re really happy planning your day-to-day but you struggle with envisioning the end result.


Whichever one you are, you need to learn to get comfortable with the other side until you get the business to the point at which you can hire someone with complimentary skills.


In the meantime, Pay As You Go COO can help bridge that gap if you need extra support; I have resources available for both the goal-setting side and the plan-setting side - book a free Discovery Call below to find out more.


To break down the process of building a Business Strategy, throughout this ebook I'm going to use a fictional example of a company that I’ll call Strategy Ltd.


Strategy Ltd is a new business. The team is designing a Strategy for the first time and they’re implementing my 6-Point Framework (I'm biassed, but I think that’s a great choice they made!). The company exists in the technology industry and is focussed on innovation and sustainability. I’ll refer back to Strategy Ltd as an example as I illustrate each element of the Framework.


Before we get into the elements of the Framework, I want to take a moment to define some terms that I'm going to use a lot in this ebook. You may very well know these terms already, but I'm passionate about making business advice accessible to everyone and I don’t want to steam ahead without laying some foundations.

‘objective’

(adjective, lower-case ‘o’)

​Something that is ‘objective’ is something that is clear, measurable, and based on facts.


An objective measure is one that is free from personal opinions or feelings, it is entirely data-driven.


I’ll talk a lot in this book about ‘objective goals’, these are goals that aren’t open to interpretation, they have one definition of success.


An example of an objective goal could be “£1m in revenue” or “100 customers more than last year”.

‘subjective’

(adjective)

On the opposite side to ‘objective’, something that is ‘subjective’ is open to interpretation.


A subjective view isn’t data-driven, it’s based on personal experience, emotions, and beliefs. It can’t be measured in a yes/no way because one person’s definition of success is different to someone else’s.


An example of a subjective goal could be “lots of revenue” or “more customers than last year” Both are clearly open to interpretation based on each person’s definition of ‘lots’ and ‘more’.

‘quantitative’

(adjective)

​Similar to ‘objective’, ‘quantitative’ means something that is based on a numerical value (think ‘quantity’).


A quantitative goal has a clear, single definition of success that is illustrated using a number.


Examples of quantitative goals that a business might set could be a revenue number to hit, or a number of customers to convert.

‘qualitative’

(adjective)

Like ‘subjective’, ‘qualitative’ means something that isn’t numerical, something that is based on feelings or opinions (think ‘quality’).


A qualitative goal could look at things like attitudes or perceptions, but wouldn’t have a clear definition of success.

When you’re setting goals and designing a Business Strategy, it’s important to be clear on the difference between something that is objective, like a quantitative goal, and something that is subjective, like a qualitative goal.


If you set quantitative goals for your business, you can be clear on whether or not something has been achieved. If you set qualitative goals, your team may end up with a different definition of success to you and you can easily waste time and resources chasing the wrong things.


As you’ll see throughout the next few Chapters, I encourage you to find the quantitative measures in your company. That way, you’re certain that everyone involved in what you’re doing is speaking the same ‘language’ and has the same definition of success.


Successful businesses are built on clear communication and quantitatives are the building blocks of clear business communication.

One final thing: it’s also worth noting that I’ll also be talking in this ebook about Objectives (noun, upper-case O) as well as the objective (adjective, lower-case o) measures I defined above.


The first one is an element in the Framework that I’ll introduce in chapter 4, the second one is the one I defined above.


Thank you to the English language for always being delightfully confusing - look for the context and capitalisation for clarity on which version I'm using.


Now that we’re clear on those definitions, let’s break down the Framework into its component parts.


In this chapter I introduced the idea that the Pay As You Go COO 6-Point Strategy Framework contains 6 elements and is split into 2 parts. The first part, the goal-setting part, contains the Mission Statement, the Objectives, and the Key Results. The second part of the Framework, the plan-setting part, contains the Projects, the Tasks, and Performance Management.


In the next chapter, we’ll look at the first stage of my 6-Point Strategy Framework in detail - the Mission Statement.


To get the full book, including the worksheets that will help you write your own Business Strategy, head to my shop via the link below.


write a strategy


If you'd like some help writing your Business strategy using my 6-Point Framework, why not book a free, no-commitment Discovery Call with a Pay As You Go COO to discuss?


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