- Why small business strategy planning fails
- 5 tips for more effective strategy planning
- How the shift to the digital space enables better strategy
Q: Does my small business need a plan? How should I handle my small business strategic planning?
A: Yes, a detailed strategic plan is the cornerstone of any successful business. To effectively craft a small business plan, you’ll need to understand your company, inside and out, as well as your target audience and the market as a whole. Once you know what you’re planning for, you’ll want to be as meticulous as possible and make a plan that details exactly what you hope for your business to accomplish.
If you’ve ever taken a long drive using only the road signs you encounter, you likely understand the importance of having a plan.
Similarly, if you’ve ever tried to lead your brand without doing the necessary planning, you understand the importance of small business strategy planning.
According to the SSRG International Journal of Economics and Management Studies, business plans are essential to the success of any organization.
Whether it’s an online marketing strategy or a general small business plan, the more planning you do, the better suited you’ll be for any possible situation that could arise.
In most cases, effective small business strategy planning should include a shift to online-first operations. While not the best move for everyone, most modern businesses can benefit from the transition.
Read more: About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online
Today, we’ll discuss why so many examples of small business strategy planning fail, how the shift to the digital space provides better strategies and five actionable tips for an effective small business strategy planning guide.
- Why small business strategy planning fails
- 5 tips for more effective strategy planning
- How the shift to the digital space enables better strategy
- Taking advantage of virtual tools for your small business strategy planning
Why does small business strategy planning matter?
Small business owners often make the mistake of implementing a strategy without considering all the components and outcomes surrounding it. They hear that a strategy worked for another business and uncritically adopt it.
While this might sound like a good idea, it often leads to wasted time and energy. The business owner typically won’t see the results they were expecting.
According to Harvard Business Review, between 60-90 percent of business strategies are failures That said, the reasons for these high percentages vary by business and strategy plan.
Independent of these varying reasons, almost all of these failures can be chalked up to some kind of misunderstanding.
The goal for most business owners is expansion. With effective small business strategy planning, you can create short-term goals that translate into longer-term processes of scaling your business the right way.
Read more: How To Scale Your Business With Effective Strategic Planning
Below, we’ve listed a failing small business strategic plan example and the three pitfalls most commonly associated with such failures.
- Misunderstanding your company
- Misunderstanding your customers
- Misunderstanding the market
Misunderstanding your company
It doesn’t matter how meticulously planned your small business strategy planning is if you don’t understand the company you’re planning for.
What’s worked for another business won’t necessarily work for yours, and without a comprehensive idea of the ins and outs of your business’s day-to-day activities, you’re operating blindly.
To combat this, you need to pay very close attention to what your business is doing, and how it does it.
Consider drafting a list that describes the roles of your employees in the best detail you can muster, the costs associated with fulfilling orders or client requests and the goals that you’d like for your company to accomplish in both the long and short term.
Misunderstanding your customers
Misunderstanding your customers is a great way to give your business more problems than necessary.
If there is a disconnect between how entrepreneurs see their customers and how they actually are, then any amount of small business owners’ strategic planning simply won’t be enough.
How can you effectively run your business if you don’t truly know who your target audience is?
Thankfully, with the advent of digital marketing initiatives and work-from-home options in general, there are ample solutions that business owners can use to better understand their target audience.
Tools like Google Analytics and social media insights can give you an idea of what certain audiences find appealing, allowing you to use this information to create a comprehensive picture of the demographic you’d like to reach.
Without understanding the individuals with whom you would like to purchase your products or services, your business doesn’t stand a chance.
Misunderstanding the market
While a bit broader than the previous two pitfalls, misunderstanding the market is a quick way to waste money, lose business or increase turnover.
The market is an ever-changing, fickle beast. Thousands of individuals before us have lost their shirts trying to time or outsmart the market.
Sure, if you’re using a personal trading account, feel free to try your hand at beating the market in its own game. If you’re running a business, however, it’s probably best that you learn as much as you can about it so that you can properly react to the vicissitudes of the market on the fly.
With a robust understanding of the market, times of economic hardship can be planned for. Similarly, times of great economic growth can be taken advantage of.
You don’t have to be the next Warren Buffet to understand the market. Sometimes, knowing that you don’t fully understand is the best way to prepare yourself for constant fluctuations.
Independently, paying attention to Federal meetings and global news is a great way to keep yourself informed on various market-wide happenings.
Small business strategy planning is always going to be the safest and most effective way for your business to move forward. However, without the proper knowledge and understanding, no amount of small business marketing, strategic planning or customer insight will be enough for your business to succeed.
Remember, business strategies need to be adapted to every business’s unique situation.
You need to find the critical components of a strategy and analyze how they fit into your particular marketing and business structure.
Rather than blindly adopting a copy-paste strategy, use the following tips to create a small business strategy planning template that is uniquely built around your business.
5 tips for small business strategy planning
Here we’ve created an actionable guide with 5 unique small business strategy planning tips. Keep reading to understand how to build a strategic plan that fits your business.
1. Create consumer sketches
It’s easy to get caught up in general market trends, and while these are helpful, they aren’t enough for you to optimize your approach.
Take the time to create a thorough outline of your target consumer. This will help you identify their wants and needs and adapt your marketing efforts to connect with them.
You can speak directly to what they care about rather than shooting blindly and hoping you hit the target.
Connecting with your customers is critical to the success of your business. If you know exactly what kind of consumer you’re hoping to connect with, you won’t be wasting time and allocating resources to ineffective marketing initiatives.
2. Consider your medium
Again, general market trends are helpful, but they don’t show you what will work best for your business specifically.
Your target demographic likely has a preferred platform that they engage with the most. Take the time to find out what it is and create marketing materials that meet them there.
Allocate your resources to the platforms with the most engagement from your target audience. The better your presence on these websites, the more of these individuals you’ll connect with.
3. Find your differentiator
Determine what it is that makes your product or service unique for your target audience. Then, analyze your competition.
Once you have an idea of which parts of your business fall into this category, lean into them. These could be narrative differentiators or aspects of your products or services that stand out among your competitors.
Niche markets and specific products that are accessible to the target audience are a goldmine. Do the research and find a way to meet consumer demands that are unmet.
Read more: Most Successful Businesses Focus on a Niche, Here’s How
Ask yourself why your target market would choose you over your competition. Once you’ve found the answer, highlight what makes you stand out and use it to connect with consumers.
4. Find your areas of opportunity
Analyze what works about your existing campaigns.
Become crystal clear about who is buying from you and why. Then, find spaces with a high volume of like-minded individuals. Doing this allows you to step into new markets with a higher likelihood of success.
But it’s important to be aware that these areas may not mirror where general marketing trends are heading.
A deep understanding of your business and ideal customer allows you to do a deep analysis that identifies these higher-volume pockets of your target demographic.
If you don’t know exactly who you’re selling to, you’ll have a much harder time figuring out where a larger number of these individuals are located.
Your business may be more successful by moving to places where overall traffic is dropping, but your target demographic is highly prominent.
5. Maintain your presence in current markets
Many businesses become so focused on their expansion that they forget to nurture existing markets.
This leads to new sales simply replacing old ones, rather than building on them.
Your existing customer base is what has allowed you to expand, and it’s paramount for you to remember these individuals during any small business strategy planning.
The idea is to increase your market share. If you’re losing the customers you had originally, then your expansion isn’t doing your business any favors.
Alienating your existing customer base is a recipe for disaster. An ideal example of a small business strategic plan should make it a point to continue operations in your original market while you try to expand.
A strong business infrastructure will allow you to handle the new volume without risking any of your previously acquired customers.
By using these tips, your small business strategy planning will be a lot more straightforward.
As you continue to push your business forward, consider the revenue that could be accessed by focusing on your online operations.
The ecommerce market is booming and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Until human beings decide they don’t like convenience, emphasizing online operations is almost always a safe bet.
Why you should emphasize online operations
As you can see, the optimal business strategy requires heavy analysis and flexibility.
While this might feel overwhelming with your already busy schedule, you must prioritize strategy planning to keep up with and outpace your competitors.
The more you plan, the better off you are.
Sometimes the economy might not be in a position that incentivizes growth, or vice versa, but a detailed plan helps you make these distinctions before it’s too late.
Read more: Keeping Your Business Going May Mean Both Growing and Shrinking
Regardless of whether you’re focusing on expansion or perfecting your day-to-day operations, the virtual market provides countless revenue opportunities that should be taken advantage of.
The best way to make small business strategy planning more manageable is to emphasize the online space.
While the benefits of focusing on your virtual business are vast, we’ve listed a few critical aspects of focusing on online operations that make the transition worth it.
- Easily analyze the market
- Cost-effective scalability
- More methods of securing revenue
- Unbeatable flexibility
- Wide applicant pool
Easily analyze the market
Again, knowing the market is essential to your small business strategy planning.
With online operations, there are ample tools available that make it simple for you to analyze the market as well as your target demographic.
Additionally, social media platforms provide an easy way to check the insights on any of your posts to see who is most regularly interacting with your content.
An emphasis on online operations opens your business up to countless virtual methods of compiling, analyzing and using data.
With these tools, you can get a comprehensive picture of the market you’re hoping to break into, as well as the customers you’re hoping to acquire.
Successful businesses are highly scalable. Focusing on your online operations gives you the chance to expand as much as possible with surprisingly low downside risk.
Traditional businesses required hefty capital and expensive analytic teams to help them break into new markets. With the influx of online solutions, that same analysis is much cheaper, and the capital requirements are considerably lower.
An effective online marketing strategy will typically be far less pricy than traditional advertisement costs.
With the number of ways you can generate revenue online, your business is only limited by the specificity of your small business strategy planning.
More methods of securing revenue
One of the biggest benefits of focusing on your online operations is the number of ways for your business to generate revenue.
You could create a following that uses your company website and start charging for advertising space.
If you have anyone on your team that’s technically literate, you could begin offering online services for a fee in addition to your current offerings.
Depending on your business, you could create a subscription model that customers will pay for every month.
The opportunities are endless.
Internet usage doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. As you begin looking for new ways to generate revenue online, your business is only limited by your creativity.
Online businesses are unbelievably flexible.
Online business solutions allow entrepreneurs to have a centralized hub for their operations using a virtual office, without sacrificing any of the benefits associated with traditional office space.
As you begin to shift your focus to generating revenue online, you’ll quickly realize just how much leeway you have with your core operations.
In the past, expansion and marketing were prohibitively expensive, making it almost impossible for any small business owner to retain any sense of flexibility.
Thankfully, this is no longer the case. An emphasis on online operations allows you to focus on acquiring customers without having to worry about excessive operating costs.
Wide applicant pool
Hiring is a nightmare. Trying to find the perfect employee that lives within a respectable 25-mile radius is even worse.
When you’re focusing on online operations, you can hire individuals from all over the world.
Tiny applicant pools result in bad hires and high turnover. But with online operations, you can find motivated individuals willing to do the work without spending hours on pointless interviews.
Effectively making this transition will require you to maintain your professional presence, both virtually and physically.
However, in order to do this, you’ll need a business address that grounds you locally to emphasize your online operations without losing local customers or sacrificing your appearance.
Remember, local businesses that find a spot in the greater lore of the area tend to create incredibly loyal customer bases.
If you’re able to hold onto the local business title while expanding online, there’s no limit to the kind of revenue your business can secure.
Taking advantage of virtual tools for your small business strategy planning
Small business strategy planning is too often adopted wholesale from other successful businesses.
The best strategy is tailored to your unique business.
Shifting to online operations supports a more customized strategy, but you need to maintain your local presence.
In times of economic hardship or civil confusion, the more detailed a plan you concoct the better.
Similarly, the more you know and understand your business and your competitors, the better you’ll be able to plan.
- About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online
- How To Scale Your Business With Effective Strategic Planning
- Most Successful Businesses Focus on a Niche, Here’s How
- Keeping Your Business Going May Mean Both Growing and Shrinking
Alliance Virtual Offices provides several tools for established entrepreneurs hoping to expand their virtual operations.
With one of our virtual offices, you get a professional and well-known business address that comes with access to a physical workspace and meeting rooms.
This allows you to focus on your online operations without losing the appeal that comes with being a local small business.
In addition to the physical workspace and meeting room access, our helpful onsite staff is always ready to assist you with any technical difficulties you might come across.
Access to a physical workspace means that you don’t have to choose between working at home or working on possibly unsafe public Wi-Fi. Our on-demand meeting rooms allow you to bring privacy, convenience, and efficiency to your remote workstyle.
Outside of our virtual offices, consider a Live Receptionist to help you say goodbye to lost revenue.
With a Live Receptionist, you no longer need to worry about upsetting potential customers because you’re trying to multitask. Our friendly team of receptionists helps you reconnect with clients and build new, lasting business relationships.
No matter what your small business strategy planning is calling for, Alliance Virtual Offices has you covered.
Contact us today to see how we can help your business thrive in the online market!