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The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. ~Michael Porter

One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of succeeding with your business is hone your ability to think and act strategically. Being able to respond quickly to changing environments and circumstances throughout the year requires being well positioned. (A solid strategy guides timely decision making.)

Ideally, you would start each new fiscal year with an updated strategy(ies). Many business owners choose to work on this task in the final quarter of the year so they can start fresh and have a full 12 months to generate the desired results from their efforts.

Essentially, when defining strategy, whether it be for your business overall or some supporting aspect of it (e.g., marketing, technology, pricing, customer retention, social media etc.) you include three core guiding elements:

  1. your strategic plan,
  2. the actions that support bringing it to life, and
  3. key indicators and measurements that tell you where you stand in relation to what success looks like at year end.

The first element, the Strategic Plan, answers these questions:

  • Why do you exist? (Mission)
  • Who do you want to be? (Vision)
  • What must you achieve? (Goals)

Action Plans, the second element, answer these questions:

  • What are the specific, measurable outcomes (not activities) desired? (Objectives)
  • What are the actions you’ll commit to taking this year to achieve your objectives? (Initiatives, Projects etc.)

The third and final element, Measurement, answers these questions:

  • How will you monitor and measure success? (Measures)
  • What is your desired level of performance and when do you expect to hit the mark? (Targets)

How have you answered these questions for the new business year? Haven’t set aside any time to think about it yet? Start now.