Powerful Questions for Your Business Strategy for 2021

In November’s post, I touched on the isolation many people have experienced during 2020. That isolation had many outcomes and a much more significant impact than possibly imagined at the onset of the year. That became clearer as I moved into December.

I typically reflect on the year to date in December and begin to plan for the following year. In the past, I used Michael Hyatt’s full focus planner, but as I am only planning from January to March 2021, I have amended my process this time.

My two most salient observations of 2020

While I have many reflections on 2020, two things struck me most forcibly.

1. How the pandemic disrupted our lives globally

Firstly, I was struck by how much the pandemic disrupted our way of life globally, and how businesses responded, some faster than others. I encountered three types of client in the year:

a) Those that hunkered down to wait out the storm, which still rages.

b) Those that stumbled on, trying to keep some cash flowing, while struggling to make ends meet. In the UK, only unprecedented aid to the private sector salvaged more of those businesses.

c) Those that recognised the likely challenges; planned; stabilised their businesses; and looked to the future.

2. How few businesses had a strategy at all

Secondly, the impact of the pandemic surfaced and affirmed a long-held view of mine. I believe that many businesses in the SME sector do not plan, let alone have a proper business strategy. It is that point that takes my focus in this post.

Thinking about your business strategy

 Strategic thinking is the ability to know what you want to achieve and how to achieve it. We need more of it.

The Harvard Business Review suggests some ways to sharpen essential skills to do this. The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness identifies what strategic thinking is, why it is necessary, what its components are, and how you might improve your strategic thinking skills. It further suggests some useful study materials and books that will help you develop your approach.

Powerful questions – for you and your business strategy in 2021 

All the great writers, however, distil their thinking into powerful questions. Here’s my amalgam of some of the most powerful I use with clients. Given the significant trauma of this year, I hope you find them helpful. 

  • What business are you in? Now, ask yourself what business you are REALLY in? How well do you understand your customers’ wants, needs, desires, hopes, and expectations?
  • What business will you be in the future, based on recent trends? If you could wave a magic wand, making your business perfect in every way, what would it look like?
  • Who is your customer? Your ideal customer? Here’s a small hint – you have this nailed if you have high sales, excellent cash flow, and profitability.
  • What does your customer consider as value? What do they want to receive more than anything else? What is your area of excellence that your ideal customers want, or need, and will pay for?
  • What are your goals for 2021? The more specific you are, the more likely you will achieve them. Specific is terrific!
  • What are the constraints on your business today? What is the most significant single factor? What can you do to alleviate or mitigate that factor?
  • What are the 20% of your activities that account for 8O% of your results? The Pareto Principle dictates that 20% of your customers can account for 80% of your business. What are the 20% of actions that you can do to account for 80% of your results?

That last question is of particular importance, as the allocation of limited resources – time, plant, money, and people – is critical to your business.

One final mantra

I have taught, coached, and mentored many business and organisation leaders, from C-suite to front-line managers. To all, I offered this mantra –

Thinking + Decisions + Action + Reflection = Success.

It has worked for me for over forty years, but, as I said earlier, we need more thinking first; hence the powerful questions.

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