Ah, the thought of that next big vacation! Maybe you’ll choose Hawaii this time. Ooh, how about going to the desert for some golf? That is if you enjoy golf. Here’s an idea…what if you plan that big trip to Europe? Not just any trip…I say you go on one of those all inclusive tours.
Can you think of one thing that is in common with organizing trips / vacations and operating your business?
THEY REQUIRE ADEQUATE QUALITY PLANNING!
The better the planning the more smoothly the vacation goes, right? Usually with intensive planning you’ve also accounted for possible “snags” in the course of things. Such as, you think ahead and consider the possibility of your luggage going on a short detour and taking separate “vacation”. For “insurance” you decide to pack a couple extra changes of clothes in your carry-on bag. You are a smart monkey! Not all of us are willing or able to go on a little shopping spree after budgeting money for our much deserved break.
Well, the planning you put into your strategic business plan requires the same attention as planning for your big trip to Europe. You have to take all of your “destinations” into account. Just think of strategically planning for your business as planning for a very long trip. There are many requirements along the way. Hey, you have an itinerary for a trip…you need an equivalent for your business, right?
YOUR BUSINESS PLAN!
You do have one…don’t you?
Of course you have one. What am nuts? And you go over it every quarter, correct? You don’t? Many experts say that you should go over your business plan at least every 6 months, and make changes and adjustments if need be.
In your business plan you can set the “strategic planning wheels in motion”. Going into the importance can be examined at another time. I say now we’ll look into a specific area of your planning. Examining the following 4 areas will really assist you in defining your business.
- Core business
- Core competencies
- Comparative advantages
- Distinctive competencies
Fleshing out these areas will help you see where you are able to differentiate your business. What sets you apart? What makes your business unique?
Defining the unique qualities of your business can possibly assist in these areas:
- Improve and increase revenue
- Facilitate acquiring bank financing
- Increase mutually beneficial partnerships
- Capitalize on an untapped market
Because the economic environment can be very dynamic and fluid, With your business you need to perform periodic reviews to determine your businesses position, mobility and health in the market.
Reynolds and Lancaster (2007) advise that when businesses are performing strategic planning to determine the company’s future marketing efforts, that those efforts mirror sales forecasting. So, when you venture into planning or forecasting, how do you get to the point of making crucial decisions? Try asking some of these essential questions.
Where do you want to go with your business?
- Do you want to move into different markets?
- Do you want to change your brand identity?
- How does the competition interact with you?
- How can we best compete in the market?
Dr. Anne Mooney (2010), Assistant Professor with Steven Institute of Technology suggests that small companies as well as large ask the following questions in order to accomplish effective strategic planning.
What are your core competencies?
- What is your company’s main revenue-generating capability? Mooney (2010) says think of core competencies as the root of a tree. It is what keeps the whole thing going.
What are your comparative advantages?
- What is your capability that makes it difficult for others to imitate, and indispensable in out-performing the competition? Think of this as a valuable resource that your firm has that helps you provide your product and/or service better or more cheaply than the competition
What are your distinctive competencies?
- What is your capability that is visible to the customer, as well as superior to other firm’s to which it is compared and difficult to imitate? These competencies help a company lead in the market when the competencies are superior to the competition. Mooney declares, “Distinctive competencies must be communicated to customers.”
So, how are you doing and how do your customer’s see you? Ask your customers, either through a written survey or verbally.
Identifying your competencies can be useful tool in assisting your company in acquiring the capital to attain some of the goals you determined from the initial list of questions.
Now, here is the important question…
Are you and your customers “seeing” the same thing?
In other words, is the image you feel your company communicates the same image your customers perceive?
That is assuming you are reaching your target market. Reaching your target market is especially true in the current economic environment. The efficient and effective use of available resources is vital to the long-term viability of your business. So, using careful and deliberate planning, like planning for that big 14-day Caribbean cruise, do your due diligence. Cover all your angles and strategically design your business plan to take advantage of your competencies. Remember, your business plan is a “living, breathing” thing so let it out every once in awhile and let it know you care.
In the famous words of Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger (M.A.S.H. 4077), “Those that fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Barsch, P. (2010 November), Win the World Over: Use Comparative Advantage. [1 page] MarketingProfs Daily Fix – BLOG. Available: http://proquest.umi.com
Cook, C. (2004 May), Rules of Engagement; Tips for playing a winning marketing game. [2 pages] Network Journal. Available: http://proquest.umi.com
Jain, S. (1999). Marketing: Planning and Strategy. Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing.
Mooney, A. (2007 November/December), Core Competence, Distinctive Competence, and Competitive Advantage: What Is the Difference. [7 pages] Journal of Education for Business. Available: http://proquest.umi.com
Reynolds, P. & Lancaster, G. (2007), Predictive strategic marketing management decisions in small firms; A possible Bayesian solution. [13 pages] Management Decision. Available: http://proquest.umi.com
Searle, L. (2002), Has talent, needs customers. [6 pages] Strategy & Leadership. Available: http://proquest.umi.comTweet