Building a business strategy that helps you meet your organizational goals is crucial to the success of your company. Whether you embark on the endeavor internally or enlist help from a consulting service, the design of a strategy that meets your businesses unique needs is paramount. As my team and I have worked with startups and small businesses I found that traditional methods of business strategy do not fit our model of creating personalized strategies to meet the unique needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
In the traditional method of strategic planning one usually begin by asking:
• What do we do?
• For whom do we do it?
• How do we excel?
Most notably, this methodology takes an internal (we) look at factors affecting their business and begin to make decisions based on these internal factors to plan for short-term and long-term goal attainment. Little to no external research is done. We saw time after time that this method of strategic planning leaves out critical elements of the true business environment. We developed a different approach using a research driven philosophy that we call evidence based strategies. “Evidence based” practices were first introduced in the field of medicine in 1992 as evidence based medicine. It then became a method in the field of economics and we have adapted this methodology for business strategy.
So how can you use evidence based strategies? With this methodology you begin your strategic process by asking questions like:
• What is the industry or market doing?
• What are competitors doing?
• What type of customer are others in the industry targeting?
• How are others excelling?
• What are industry best practices?
This is the background stage of the process that encompasses market research, competitive analysis, competitor business model analysis, and industry best practice research. Now that you have a benchmark you can begin the internal assessment. You will ask very similar question like those used in the external analysis but focus them inward. Then you use all the information to formulate conclusions on what the company can do to grow. From here you:
• Formulate the strategy
• Implement and Execute the plan (on a small-scale)
• Analyze your results • Make adjustments where needed
• Execute the final strategy.
The value in this model is looking at both internal and external factors that affect a business and making informed decisions based on the data analysis. While the process requires time and analytic analysis, it has proven to yield the greatest results. As you begin your strategic planning or sourcing a firm that can help you look at the process and make sure it incorporates the evidence to make sound decisions so you can achieve the desired results.