How do you decide if you are facing an opportunity or a threat?
I was speaking with someone at a networking event recently who was thinking of starting her own business based on her keen interest in baking. The problem is, she said, that baking is now so popular that there are a great many other businesses doing the same thing. This got me thinking – is she describing a tremendous opportunity or a challenging threat?
On one hand she has a considerable market opportunity with the significant increase in interest in baking sparked by programmes such as the BBC’s The Great British Bake-Off, role models like Mary Berry and successful businesses such as the Hummingbird Bakery to name just a few. On the other hand this same popularity has resulted in a number of potential competitor businesses being created which poses a threat to any new business.
So, how do you make the most of your market opportunities whilst minimising your threats, which may be (heavily) disguised opportunities. How do you decide positively what to do to maximise your growth and profitability?
I suggest you test those opportunities and threats against your core strategies.
You Have adopted Strategies whether you Know it or Not
You have decided and are pursuing your business strategies – right now. Ensure they are the correct ones for you.
It doesn’t matter whether you are considering setting up a cupcake business from home or seeking to grow your business into a firm turning over several millions, your strategies give you clarity in the way you are building your business and are extremely useful when evaluating opportunities & threats and when making business decisions. Your strategies are the key link between your purpose and objectives on one hand and your action plans on the other.
Once you know where you are headed (describing your vision) and you have decided why your business exists (creating your mission) you can identify what you must achieve (setting your objectives) and by developing strategies, how this will be done.
How do you Decide which Strategies to Pursue?
You are looking to develop your business. What strategies should you adopt to pursue growth and profitability?
Focus on your customers. Who are they? What do they want? How do they buy? How will you sell?
Focus on your sector. What strategies are your competitors pursuing? What trends is your sector facing?
Focus on your business. What is working well and not so well within your business? What is critical to your business?
Here are some examples.
You find that your customers are often confused and uninformed about your area of business. There is a wide range of services to choose from (not all of the high quality of your business) and customers find it difficult to make an informed choice. Is this an opportunity or a threat?
Your first strategy may be to
- help and support your customers to be better informed. The better informed your customers are and the more engaged they are with you, the more likely they are to choose a quality provider they can trust – you!
You find that customers (once they are informed and engaged) recognise the value of a high quality and trustworthy experience and are willing to pay for this
Your second strategy may be to
- focus on high-value services and adopt value pricing. To charge what you are actually worth as perceived by your customer
You find that customers have commented that some aspects of your service could be improved and your own observations have identified weaknesses in your internal operations
Your third strategy may be to
- deliver an improved customer experience through re-designing internal systems and practices
Opportunity or Threat? – You Decide
Once you have your key strategies in place you can test your opportunities against them to determine if they are really in line with your strategies. You can look at threats and see if there is a way of neutralising these or of turning them into opportunities.
What are your Next Steps in Determining your Strategies?
- Decide who your customers are. Describe them.
- What do they buy? How do they buy?
- How will you sell to them?
- What will they need in the future?
- What is happening in your sector?
- Decide what is important in your business e.g. skilled employees, alliances, intellectual property / trademarks, funding, technology, location, distribution
- What opportunities can you see? What are the possibilities?
- What threats do you face? How can you address these?
- What do you do well?
- What issues must you solve?
- What needs to change?
Now write up to five key strategy statements for the growth and profitability of your business and check that they include
- how you will exploit your market opportunities
- how you will grow and manage the business
- how you will solve internal (critical) issues
Check that these strategies are in line with your vision, mission and objectives.
You now have a way of ensuring that your business decisions are in line with what you are trying to accomplish. If it fits with your strategies great, if not, is it a distraction?
Your comments would be most welcome and if you have found this blog useful please share this with your followers.