19 Thoughts on Effective Strategy

  1. Be crystal clear on your Vision. Your Mission. Your reason for Being.
  2. Solve a problem. Ideally a BIG problem.
  3. Be prepared to say ‘No’ or pass up on opportunities that don’t match your strategy (you WILL be tested).
  4. Never put price at the centre of your strategic advantage. When you are solving BIG problems in NEW ways, price becomes (almost) irrelevant.
  5. Don’t think you can do it on your own. You can’t.
  6. Remind yourself on a daily basis of your strategy. Have it emblazoned on your wall and etched on your mind.
  7. Share your vision with your team and others – regularly.
  8. Be acutely aware of where you are and where you’re starting from – don’t deceive yourself (or others).
  9. Be prepared to lose people along the way – you can’t be all things to all people.
  10. Make tiny goals and have lots of mini celebrations. These build into GIANT leaps.
  11. Have a ‘not- to-do’ list.
  12. Be honest and open. Treat others how you wish to be treated. We’re all adults.
  13. Be stubborn…..
  14. ….but be prepared to adapt your strategy if you are not getting the results you need.
  15. Be ever mindful about what you are thinking about – is it moving you forward?
  16. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the crowd – in fact, actively seek new and unexplored areas.
  17. Keep it simple.
  18. Seek feedback from your customers (regularly) – and act on it!
  19. BE PASSIONATE – its infectious!

Why being a middle of the road business is a BIG mistake

It seems reasonable to assume that targeting your business at the middle is a safe bet.  After all, the middle comprises the majority of customers. Right?

Perhaps – but there is a nasty sting in the tail for the unwary…

The middle is big.  Very BIG. The middle provides the most choice for customers. The middle is the most competitive. The middle is the noisiest. The middle makes it harder for you to appear bespoke – you are trying to serve too many in the middle.  The middle is where the high street and big internet brands hunt (and they have deeper pockets than you).  The middle ignores the genius of the 80/20 rule.

Those in the middle normally struggle. The middle is tough. The middle is the hardest work. The middle needs a lot of marketing (and therefore cash).  Those in the middle have to struggle in good times and bad.

Many business owners spot this and set off on the right path i.e top or bottom but a little farther down the line they can’t seem to help themselves from gravitating towards the middle. They lose their nerve. Particularly in especially good or bad economic times (like now).  But why?

Despite the recent recession, many prestige businesses continue to do well. This is because the world is still full of very wealthy individuals who can ride this dip out quite comfortably – and want somewhere to shop or service their needs in the meantime.  My local Selfridges in Manchester still looked pretty packed over the recent Christmas rush, particularly around the new Tiffany concession store.

Meanwhile, businesses that had raised their sights during the recent good times will be wishing they had stayed as bargain-basement £1 shops. But it may be too late. Those that held their nerve have first-mover-advantage and will deservedly reap the rewards – our local 50p shop is busier than ever (for obvious reasons) but it didn’t start being a 50p shop in the last 12 months.  It stayed as a 50p shop when there was plenty of cash credit swishing around over the past 10 years.  It never lost its focus.  It never lost its nerve.  It never became middle.  It deserves to win.

Being middle is a mistake.  Aim high or aim low.  Either way, hold your nerve and never ever be middle.

Picture credit: Paul Watson

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