Business Strategy 101 - The Basics

It may come as no surprise, but it's often an absence of the basic building blocks that tend to put a business under pressure prematurely. Among these are a lack of anticipation, caused in part by misplaced confidence and some degree of ignorance. Let’s take a look at two new business scenarios that tend to result in stressed-out and overwhelmed business owners.

Scenario 1: The Frazzled Sole Trader

A very common scenario is the sole trader who launches a business purely on the basis of his or her core skills, without a long-term plan. In many cases they don’t even regard themselves as being in business in the beginning – it’s just work they enjoy. Going from day-to-day, carrying out the thing they do well to make ends meet. It’s a very simple business model, but it doesn’t stay simple for long. Success brings problems. As demand increases, new pressures begin to apply on the business owner, demanding both skills and time that they don’t have.

A simple example is a carpenter who sets up business on his own...

  • His work is good, and his customers like him; so word spreads, and more orders come in.
  • Now he needs to start planning his work schedule several weeks ahead.
  • He has to manage invoices and keep on top of payments.
  • He needs new tools, more wood and a bigger van 
  • Soon the workload becomes too much for him to carry out alone, so he looks to hire an apprentice.

Without planning for it he has gone from being a carpenter making things from day-to-day to being his own PA, accountant, new business manager, procurement manager, fleet manager, personnel officer… and he can’t cope.


Scenario 2: The Becalmed Business

The second scenario is the small business owner who launches with a vision for the future and knows he or she needs a plan, but never seems to quite get around to it. That vision will usually be something along the lines of building the business up, selling it and spending the proceeds on a happy and luxurious retirement. That may well be as detailed as it gets.

There are several reasons why you might not have a comprehensive business plan:

  • Many business owners have no idea where to start with business plan writing
  • They lack the required areas of expertise
  • They don’t have the writing skills

As long as there is no plan, setting goals and making sure those targets are met, the business will flounder, ticking over perhaps but not making the desired progress towards that dream of sailing off into the sunset.

Avoiding Stress Points

In both scenarios, the result is stress for the business owner. It’s a stress that can be easily avoided either by planning in advance or enlisting the support of a provider that can help. For the sole trader who doesn’t even see himself as a business until he’s collapsing under the weight of all the business processes, a coach will help him or her to not only recognise that fact, but also to see the opportunities to make their business work for them, rather than against them.

For the small business owner who recognises the need for a plan, but doesn’t know where to begin, most business coaches will be well-versed in writing business plans and creating the associated budgets or forecasts. This will remove much of the uncertainty and move you towards taking decisions that are properly grounded in the numbers.

The Art of Planning

A business plan is like a treasure map. It defines your end goal and plots the steps you need to take to achieve it. It sounds simple, but a remarkable number of business owners embark on their journey without one. It’s only when they’re made to stop and think about their end goal, that they realise they have one (possibly several) – and how that end goal can be the driving force that pulls their business forward.

A business coach will help you to define your end goal and then work with you to plot the steps you need to take. Where you don’t have the expertise, they will help you identify gaps in resource and appropriate solutions based on your journey and trajectory.

With all planning, the blank piece of paper that you begin with can be a daunting sight. Where do you start? Reconnecting you with the passion that drove you to launch the business in the first place is always a good place to start. Your future end goals and vision will normally start flowing from there.

Due Diligence
At some point in your business journey, you may need to secure finance to enable the business to expand in some way, such as new premises, equipment or staff. Having a solid business plan in place will help your chances, especially if all the figures stack up. This is another area in which a business coach pays dividends. They will be able to look at your finance and consider the business case, spot any areas that might need attention and propose any actions.

There is a pretty obvious answer to the question, "What do you think lenders ask for when a business comes looking for finance?". Unlocking the very first strategy for your business is very simple. It is the low hanging fruit known as a business plan and budget or forecast. This serves as evidence you have carried out some due diligence on your own intentions. This is the safety net, a sense check on expenditure and a reality check on projected sales. It is the basic governance that allows you to consider unexpected changes to your cash flow or the depletion of your savings or contingency funds earlier than planned.

So, in conclusion - you begin to unlock business strategy and can affectively leverage the relationship with your business coach, by making sure the basics are being done right.

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Tim Hatari

Tim Hatari helps businesses improve performance, creating strategic development plans and establishing structure via the 5PX Executive Business Coaching System. As CEO and Founder at TMD Coaching, he oversees the vision setting process with clients, leading on sales acquisition, the drive for operational excellence and market leading innovation. For Tim, helping others is the most rewarding part of the role. Follow or connect with Tim on Linkedin -

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Topics from this blog: Business Planning, Strategy Coaching, CPD

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