The second main part of the business planning process is developing strategy. Strategy starts with focus, focus on key parts of your market, key portions of your product or service line. And focus means relatively few priorities. In business planning, the more priorities or key points included, the less likelihood of implementation. Why? Because we're human. Because prioritizing means focusing, and if the list has 20 points, no one point means that much.
Your list of priorities should be three or four main points. Strategies should be tailored specific to your company. There's no generic strategy that works or an industry strategy that works. It has to do with your need for growth, your competitive advantage, your positioning, your reality. Strategy has to be consistently applied over the long term three, four, six years. It's better a consistently applied mediocre strategy than a series of brilliant strategies. Strategy doesn't work when it changes too fast. You don't have time to reap the benefits.
Strategy must be realistic. Think of the knobs you have to turn. As you're driving a car, you have controls to go right and left, you have pedals to go faster and slower. But these are limited controls. You can't go straight up or straight down for example. The same is true in a business. There are some things you can do and there are some things you'd like to do but you can't. Your strategy should deal realistically with what are the knobs that you have to turn.
Ideally, strategy is built on market demand, market needs. It's not, “How can I sell what I already have? Who will buy it?” but rather, “What do people really need? How can I satisfy those needs? What does the market really want?” That's the basis of the strongest strategies. Ultimately, the best strategy anticipates market demand. Demand drives growth. Also, strategy recognizes displacement, meaning that you can't do everything in your plan so that what you choose to do rules out other options that you can't do. You're making choices. One thing displaces the other things, and very few organizations are able to do everything. So make your choices recognizing that they will displace other options.
So finally, I'd like to suggest this strategy checklist as a summary you can use to develop strategy for your business as part of your plan.