Designing a successful strategy is a very simple three-part construction of Who, What and Why, but it can be incredibly challenging and frustrating! For some, the three parts come together immediately, but it takes months or even years for others.
This seemingly simple process is so difficult because it forces you to bring a razor-sharp focus to only the most essential elements of your strategy and throw away the rest.
If you’re starting a new business, you’re in the catbird’s seat because you haven’t had the time to overcomplicate your corporate strategy. So as my mom used to say, “listen up, kiddo!” But if you’re like most of us, and I include myself and our firm, MarketCues to this long list, it’s likely that today’s dramatic changes in the marketplace are forcing you to rethink your corporate strategy.
In my many years of consulting CEOs, I have found this first part to be very difficult. Exactly who you will serve is actually based on all of the people you are not going to serve. Put this to the test by describing the singular profile of your ideal client. Small, medium or large organizations? In one market or many? And so forth. The more variables, the more diffused this first part becomes until you can’t state in one simple sentence who you serve.
Here’s an example. Our company serves private business owners with revenues between one to ten million. So what are you going to do if a company with $50MM in annual revenues approaches you? You’ll likely say yes! This practice will lead your corporate strategy to serve everyone with everything they need, and that’s not a winning strategy.
This second part is nearly as difficult as the first because over time, companies tend to “Grow” the number of products and services it provides while serving everyone with everything. As you see, a first diffused strategy part leads you to an even more diffused second strategy part.
At one point in my first company in Chicago, we were serving 50 different clients ranging from $10k in annual revenues to over $1MM. Things had really gotten out of hand because we never said no. So eventually, we made the very stressful decision to serve a particular size and niche of companies and “lost” 50% of our clients. However, this represented less than 20% of our annual income and gave us back 50% of our time!
Any company that has been in business for more than ten years thinks it knows why it’s in business. Yet, according to the American Management Association, only 15% of employees can state their company’s strategy, what they specifically provide to clients, and why. The other 85% settle into their specific tasks hoping that their top management knows what they’re doing.
So test yourself. Write one sentence for Who you serve, another for What you provide, and a third for Why you do it. Then see how you do. You’ll likely need to rethink your strategy, entirely or partly, to arrive at a razor-sharp focus.
Of course, if you’d like some help, that’s what we do. We help CEOs rethink, restructure and grow their companies. Click here to learn more.