Running a business without a strategy is a bit like walking a tightrope without a safety net. It’s an essential feature that doesn’t catch you when you make a misstep, but helps lower the risk of you making mistakes at all.

Writing a strategy is a difficult task, requiring skills well outside the set you use regularly for running your business. If you search for strategy consulting London based firms can help, but before you commit, it’s well worth reading around the subject so you can make some informed decisions and have a clear idea of what you want.

Getting Specific

One of the most important things you can do is think about what the right strategy is for your business specifically. There is no generic route to success – and in fact, the closer your plan is to the received wisdom in your industry, the more vulnerable you are when conditions change and that received wisdom is no longer useful.

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Think about what you want from your business – that kind of specificity and independence is why you chose to build your own business rather than work for someone else’s – from your ultimate vision of success to what your day to day engagement with running the show looks like. There’s no point imitating the strategy of world dominating brands if you simply want to remain competitive in your local area, and adopting the intense work style typical of start-up culture is counterproductive if you’re starting a business in order to design a working day around your young family, for example.

Thinking About the Competition

One thing your strategy has to take into account are other businesses in your space. Whether you’re writing it yourself or working with consultants, competition is a key factor. It’s worth commissioning market research to discover and prioritise all the businesses that are competing for a share of your customers. And then the most important thing you can do is work out how to stand out from them. You can’t hope to simply outspend all your competitors – you have to identify what they’re doing and then ensure you’re appealing to your customers in a different (and more effective!) way.

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Red Lines and Values

One of the most valuable things about devising your strategy is the opportunity to encode your values into it, so they’ll be expressed as you follow that strategy, growing and developing your business over the course of years. You can include provisions for environmental decision-making, for hiring practices, work life balance and other things that give you the chance to live your values through your business, as well as red lines like your attitude to risk, and the sorts of fundraising you’re prepared to do, as well the extent to which you’re prepared to compromise, give away equity and decision making power and so on.

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Given the impact on your business over months and years, it’s well worth spending some time and money crafting a strategy you’re really happy with.