Positive pathways to tackling uncertainty.

History tells us that exploring strategic options and being bold is the only way forward when faced with a crisis. Sitting on your hands is a choice, although perhaps not the best one when faced with CHANGE.

The best leaders right now are undertaking a strategic planning process to redesign their business for success so that they have more options moving forward.

 If I gave you a proven process, used by hundreds of top-performing businesses,would you use it?

Let’s start:

In the strategic planning process, it’s the thinking and exploration of key ideas that matter most. The process will provide a forum for open, constructive and critical thinking of what may be possible, and for blue-sky thinking without fixed boundaries.

Focus on the factors critical for your success and which solve problems, present new opportunities and value for a variety of stakeholders to enjoy. And which will allow individuals to build increasing levels of connection and trust with your product or service.

The design of the Action Plan for Implementation will produce options, including your point of difference, the value you deliver, an objective 360 review of the risks (internal and external), the development of contingency plans, competitor analysis and more.

3 Strategies to address some of the Key Questions posed in last week’s article.

1.     This is what makes our business special.

The idea here is to re-examine your vision. Your vision answers “ what is our business’ destination, our desired future state, our direction ?”

You will ask – What is it that we do that is brilliant or that is unique? What is our point of difference, our unique value proposition?

Do you actually have anything that is unique? If not, brainstorm what that could be.

What can we create that provides a point of difference and real value for our target audience?

A big question to ask now is “how attractive and relevant are we right now?”

If we were starting our business again from scratch, and with all that we have learned, would we design our business, our offering and Action Plan in the same way?

This is an opportunity to revisit strategies that will position your business and stakeholders to tackle and succeed, in the greatest pandemic of modern times, where we lack certainty, and where uncertainty might just be the new normal.

How can we turn this to our advantage? The buzz phrase now is “how can we pivot?”

Focus on your :

Product or service.

Process – the way we do what we do.

Customer and/or user experience.

Buying process and journey.

Natural resources.

Supply chain /alternative markets.

Lean & effective processes.

Unique relationships.

Brand.

Intellectual property, patents, licences that we have developed.

Distribution channel or platforms.

Digital footprint.

Influence and followers.

Contracts, our terms and conditions.

First buyer experience.

Exclusivity we hold in our territory or region.

Ask “What outcomes do we deliver so that our customers get what they want, with little friction and where the entire process is enjoyable and builds trust? ”

This strategic brainstorming will allow you to answer what it is that you do, what makes your business special or what you could do to provide a better answer, solution or options to this question.

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Attack all sacred cows, ask open questions, disrupt yourself and remember a good idea is a good idea regardless of where it comes from. Yes, I know this takes courage.

Our experience in working with many businesses where we help with this process, is that this approach narrows the focus and lasers in on where you can differentiate or develop your brand, people or process so that you are a leader in your sector.

Remove the friction and make it easy for people to do business with you. In uncertain times people still love to shop, they enjoy retail therapy.

Help me buy from you so that I get what I want, or what I need, that makes me feel better…

Most of us don’t like being sold to, however we like to work with, and buy from, businesses and brands that have reduced the risk, delivers loads of value and make the experience enjoyable.

Internally  – Constructively analyse where it is that you are making money, revisit your break-even position (from both a profit and cash position). Review all of your expenditure and examine whether you are getting a great return on that investment. Explore how you could get an even better ROI via exploring other options.

Look at what margins you are achieving on each of your products and services including the contribution from each to your net profit.

What else can you do that will deliver huge value for your target audience or new customers, and that has very little further cost to you; thus obtaining scale and leverage on your existing investments/ cost base – that will produce a significant profit.

2.     This is why we exist and why anyone should care.

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What is your mission, Your key purpose?

It is vital that you and your team can answer this with ease and consistency … and it shouldn’t be “to make loads of money”. Although the likelihood is that when you pursue your key purpose and make an impact in the lives of your customers, you will probably make a huge amount of profit. Think Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Google, Facebook…

The answer will reveal your passion; what it is that you love doing, what drives you, what motivates you, what is enjoyable to do and doesn’t feel like work at all. Where you can make a real difference and impact beyond self-interest.

Give your team and clients reasons to care about your business, product, services and your brand. Show them that you care (don’t just say it).

Profile and showcase others enjoying great outcomes by buying from you. Get excited, animated and bring this to life. ( Just like Woody in Toy Story!)

Make sure to consider all of the “players” in the game of business – your team, your clients, potential customers and the wider community.

3.     The value our business delivers that our customers love.

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Turn your mind to your key products, services, distribution platform and the client experience you provide.

What do your product and services allow your customers to enjoy?

What problem(s) do we fix?

How do we make our customers feel?

What opportunities do we provide for our team members, our clients, and the community?

Build authentic mini case studies that showcase the variety of positive outcomes your products, services and business has delivered.

  1. Illustrate the situation, problem, concern, risk or the opportunity that they had not previously taken advantage of.
  2. Outline the options you delivered, how the process works, the ease, how you remove the risk (real and perceived) and how your solutions addressed the key matters and provided better outcomes.
  3. Showcase what the customer was then able to enjoy after buying and using your product and/or service. Show the human element, the positive experience that made an impact in their lives. That made them feel better as a result of working with or buying from you.

Tip: Ask open questions prefaced by “What” and “How”. As you brainstorm with no limitations and positive mindset, ask “ Just imagine if we could….”

Then get creative about what you could do and how you could that. What would you need to stop or start doing?

If you can’t easily come up with a dozen examples, then get to work and think about what you need to do, and how you might achieve this.

No one said this was easy, however others have done this, and you can too.

It’s amazing what you will come up with, as you go through this process with your partners and team.

 Alec Blacklaw, Blacklaw Advisory is a Business Transformation Specialist delivering CEO Advisory support to privately held and family business owners, who are looking to create a more profitable, valuable and enjoyable business.

You can reach Alec at alec@blacklawadvisory.com.au