“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” – Sun Zu’s “The Art of War”

While this is a quote from an ancient book based around military, and I believe it to be every bit as relevant in today’s business world. In fact, shouldn’t business strategy be MILITARY PRECISION?

And even more so relevant now coming up to the end of year when business owners and managers are planning their attack for the new year ahead. (You are planning yes?)

But why do we plan?

What is the importance of planning?

Strategy should be about 2 things

  1. Protection
    1. Build predictability / stability into your business so you can protect it
  2. Improvement
    1. Continually improve on your current positioning and building a Future State Business on top of what you have already protected

See building & implementing effective Strategies is crucial to protect you current Business AND your future Business! This is something that SHOULD NOT be left to chance and like the quote above, you should protect your customers (and future customers) like a fort protects its people inside.Foretress

The bad news first.

Many business owners today have become so involved IN their business that they have forgotten to work ON their business. This is symptomatic of the overall business process. You come in at 9 am, you try and make some progress on some value added work for a client, you get a phone call from a different irate client and then your day has drastically changed for the worst. If it’s not an irate client, it’s something else.

With one of my recent clients, I used to come in on a Monday morning at 10am for a project review. For the 1st 5 weeks, John would come in and say ‘Shay, I will have to postpone the meeting till 11am, my apologies for the late notice, there is a serious client issue’.

After the 5th time, I said ‘John, it’s like GROUNDHOG DAY here. Before we conduct anymore meetings we need to conduct a strategy review to figure out why this is happening on such a regular basis’

And he wasn’t my only client like this. This is a symptom of a lack of strategy and from taking your eye away from the prize. And with the best of intentions, it happens us all!

Now for the good news

If this sounds like your current set up, and you are still in business, despite the bad news above, you now have a great opportunity to start setting your sail and only develop business strategies that only lead to valuable work and valuable clients.

Going back to the quotation I put at the beginning of the email

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” – Sun Zu’s “The Art of War”

Many companies leave this to chance and this is where the infamous Groundhog Day symptoms show their ugly head.

Another point worth noting here is that using poor market conditions as an excuse for poor growth is not acceptable anymore. Every sector has experienced the same problems yet there are companies still thriving. Tupperware Brands have achieved an average of 24% growth year on year over the last 10 years while their competitive household brands only grew by 3.6%.  There is always a formula for creating growth under any market conditions. How do they do it? Simply put, by

  1. Taking market share
  2. Holding profits strong

And when companies get these 2 things working together, in effect they are creating their own profitable growth cycle.

Before the onset of the digital age, Blockbuster was opening one profitable store after another, while the independent, local video rental store was struggling to make ends meet. Its share grew from 10% in 1990 to 35% in 1995 to 45% in 2000. They created what is known as disequilibrium, turning the balance of power in their favour. They achieved this by developing a strategy of

  • Cost
  • Improved Service
  • Better selection

HarvardAll of these upstream activities worked very well in the past, however, they failed to take advantage of downstream activities. This inevitably led to their downfall. Companies such as Netflix did the very same thing to them as they had done previously to local video rental stores.They let their advantage slide by not looking at new and developing channels to deliver their service to the market place, which then turned what they called ‘assets’ into huge ‘liabilities’. In essence, you should be protecting your customers and market place in the same manner a fortress would protect everything in side of it.

Create a fortress around your customers, keeping you on high ground with your competition below you, struggling to get over the moat to beat the fortress down. Make this as difficult & awkward as possible.

Next week I will break down a 3 Step Strategy process that will stimulate your business for the new year ahead…