Read this if you are starting a business in South Africa in 2022

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Whether you run a company or business unit, or work as a freelance, mastering business strategy is key to your success. And the end of a year and the start of a new one is a great time to create or revisit your strategy, says Tara Turkington, Managing Director of Flow Communications.

Here are 16 tips to help you through the process.

Articulate your mission

Start with a powerful mission statement that is short, easy to remember, expresses why you are in business, is exciting, and evokes emotion. It should sum up who you are serving, what you are doing, and what you are looking for. Your mission statement focuses on what you do today, as well as your purpose and reason for existing.

Mission statements generally answer the questions:

  • What are we doing?
  • Who do we serve?
  • How do we serve them?

Here are some examples of powerful mission statements:

  • TED: “Spreading ideas. “
  • Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. “
  • LinkedIn: “Connect professionals around the world to make them more productive and efficient. “
  • Nike: “Bringing inspiration and innovation to all athletes around the world. “

A personal mission statement might look like this: “My mission is to use my writing / teaching / singing talent to uplift and inspire others. “


Develop your vision

While a mission is an ambitious guide and sets a direction, a vision statement inspires you to set specific goals and accomplish certain things for tomorrow; your vision is about what you would like to achieve in the long term.

To demonstrate the difference, compare Google’s mission statement (“organize global information and make it universally accessible and useful”) with its vision statement (“make global information one click away”).


Define your values

Think about your brand values ​​and what you stand for as a company. They should define the way you run your business, especially in tough times. If, for example, one of your values ​​is “integrity” and you act dishonestly, your brand value will be severely eroded.

Typically, a values ​​statement will contain three or four sets of values, such as “integrity, reliability and transparency”, “our people are our greatest asset” and “leadership and innovation” (these are the values ​​of Flow Communications, where I work).

You can then break them down further to indicate how you will implement them, for example indicating under the first set of values ​​”integrity, reliability and transparency”:

  • “We are proud of the quality of our work
  • We deal with our customers, stakeholders and employees with the utmost transparency
  • We recognize mistakes honestly and without being on the defensive, and rectify them quickly ”
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Develop your business strategy

Ideally, map out your business strategy on one page. This is sometimes called a “Business Model Canvas (BMC)”, and there are several free templates available on the Internet.

Your strategy should encompass all aspects of your business including your mission, competitive landscape, key partners (e.g. suppliers), key businesses, value proposition, significant resources, customer segments, channels marketing, cost structure, revenue streams and impact.


Think about the short, medium and long term

It’s a good idea to develop separate one-year, three-year, and five-year strategies. The one-year strategy should be the most fleshed out, with specific goals – for example, increasing income or profitability, developing people and culture, introducing new products and services, etc.

Your strategy must clearly define your business objectives, according to SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound).


To conduct research

A good strategy is informed by research. What are your competitors doing better than you? What areas of your business should you improve, modify or develop? Are there any ideas for new products and services that you could easily develop?

Are some of your services and products aging and losing relevance, which might give you some insight into how resources will be allocated in the future? What are customers asking that you don’t give them?


Think about your positioning

It’s a common business assumption that you can’t be the best and the cheapest – you have to decide whether you position your business on price or quality. There are other aspects to positioning as well: If you provide services, what are you particularly good at? How you position your products or services in relation to each other is also important.

I recently wanted to order canvas prints of some photographs and followed a link to a page where it looked like the company was good at providing them.

But when I clicked through the rest of their website, the company had a lot of other freelance printing services on offer, which made me doubt that they were really specialists in canvas prints. I ended up choosing another supplier.

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Know your target markets

Part of achieving a BMC as described above is understanding your different target markets. At Flow Communications, for example, we have government clients and corporate clients. In our environment, government buyers are generally looking for the best price, while corporate customers are more quality conscious.

A government client has a much greater need for compliance and documentation; a corporate client for its ability to do the job. The two have different anxieties, hopes, and triggers, and it’s important that we position ourselves slightly differently, depending on what we’re up against.


Identify strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of your company, business unit, product or service is never a waste of time.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal (eg an experienced team would be a strength, while a lack of leadership in a particular area would be a weakness); the opportunities and threats are external (an opportunity would be a change in tax law that allows you to export a product cheaply to a neighboring country, when a threat could be a bad national or international economy).


Define the channels you will use to reach your target audiences

Different products and services will work best on different channels, and different channels – or a combination of different channels – will reach different audiences better than others.

TikTok, for example, is a good platform for interacting with a young audience when promoting something light, while the fastest growing audience on Facebook is now the elderly.

Direct marketing will work for some things, while influencer marketing might work for others. Channels are constantly changing and expanding, and can even be counterintuitive. For several years, for example, Flow successfully sold a large number of airline tickets for a customer outside of Instagram – perhaps not the first channel you would think an airline would turn.


Get membership

No matter how brilliant your strategy is, if you fail to see it, believe it and live it, it won’t mean anything. Ideally, it is better to build a strategy by consensus, so that there are more champions than the leader, which gives him a greater chance of success.

Identify key influencers in your organization that you can lobby. You don’t necessarily need to have a majority to see the benefits of the strategy, but just enough change makers or influencers to believe in it, creating a tipping point for widespread belief.

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Communicate your strategy widely

Just because you know your strategy so well that you can recite it on Shark Tank in a minute doesn’t mean your team knows the strategy. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Repetition (without being boring or judgmental) is important.

I recently asked the sales team I was leading towards the end of our fiscal year what our revenue and sales targets were for the year, and no one could give me a specific answer. I had stupidly assumed that because I was living with these numbers in my head, they also memorized them.


Develop a detailed action plan

It’s one thing to develop a strategy, and quite another to implement it together. You will need to develop a detailed action plan or plans to make it happen. These plans should include priority issues, goals and metrics for measurement, steps to follow, resources needed, roles and responsibilities of people, including who will ultimately be responsible for what and what the impact will be once. you will have achieved the strategy.

At Flow, for example, our five-year strategy is to double our revenue and improve our profit margin, while doing focused work. We aim to do this to make our business even stronger and more sustainable, to ensure that we can retain and attract great employees, and so that we can make a positive difference in the world.


Stay focused

To make sure you stay focused on achieving your strategy, appoint project managers and teams to focus on different aspects. Create deadlines and define specific metrics. Track your progress regularly and report back regularly (depending on the metrics, this can be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually). Hold people accountable.


Never forget your customers

While you must stay focused on achieving your strategy, never become so withdrawn that you overlook your customers. Without them, you have nothing to do. You should talk to them regularly, listen to their feedback, and incorporate it into your strategy.


Adapt your strategy

A strategy is not meant to sit on a file that is gathering dust; it is a living document that you must modify as conditions and your business evolve. Review it often (maybe quarterly) and adapt it as you learn. As we often say, your strategy needs a strategy.


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