If you’ve never seen the need to get your car serviced, your teeth cleaned, or your internet speed upgraded then you can stop reading now: clearly your business never needs a strategy day to pause, review, and refocus.
For the rest of us, the roadblocks to running a great business strategy are two-fold: we don’t have the time (meaning we don’t truly value our business), or we just don’t know how to do it.
Now, engaging an external facilitator or coach to run the day is one way to solve that problem: and it’s a solution that keeps me well stocked on conference room coffee and itty bitty little breathmints.
The value of external input aside, this is something you can do yourself.
All you need is a comprehensive guide to running a good strategy day (preferably for your General Manager, Office Manager, or 2IC to read and implement) – http://businessdepot.com.au/insights/how-to-run-a-business-strategy-day
And a clear agenda for creating a day that delivers practical business results. Conveniently, explaining that agenda is the focus of this week’s episode. Watch it here.
Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?
“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.” Back independent since 2019.
Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.
At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.
You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.
Welcome and Happy New Year. Now even though we’re releasing this episode of Blackboard Friday’s early in the new financial year, the reality is just as every day is the first day of the rest of your life so – every day could be a Happy New Year for your business. Let me take you in a little bit of an aside in 2012, I spent a lot of time traveling the world with my beautiful wife and I set myself the challenge of wishing people a Happy New Year for as late into the year as I possibly could. One of the benefits of traveling all the way around the world and towards the end of the year moving back from the UK to Australia with my business, meant that I got away with it all the way through to December, so I managed to wish people a Happy New Year in every single month of the year and not even one of them blinked.
So, if you’re looking for an excuse to focus your business, to think strategically, and to set that next growth plan, don’t feel that it needs to be the start of a calendar or financial year to do it. Just do it and this process can help you at any time of the year, but as we know sometimes a new year, a new broom can be the inspiration that a business owner or their team needs to reset the strategy.
What we’re walking through today is a very simple agenda that I use called navigating the year. Now this is the process that I take clients through it, some of my businesses now run themselves, to set out where this year is going to target in terms of their vision, their strategy, and their resources. So, let’s walk through it. The first thing you’ll notice is that I call this a strategy day. Now that’s the most common way that people do, they put aside a day get the leadership team or in a business of say 12 or fewer staff, they get the whole business together they may go off-site to get out of the stuff that can go on within a business, they put aside a day to do strategy.
Now for some businesses a half-day is appropriate for others I go there, and we do a two-day retreat, so we can get a lot further into the detail around some of these elements. The length of time does depend a little bit on your business and how much you want to invest in growth of your business. Once you’ve got the team there, I do a welcome process that involves not just checking in on how everyone’s feeling, that’s critical, because if you’ve got someone who got stuck in traffic was running late hasn’t had the coffee that they need, you’d rather that they shared that at the beginning of the day then act it out because of it through all these other conversations. So do a check-in about how people are feeling and then give them the chance to add whatever they want through the agenda for the day.
Now you’ve got this set agenda which you’ve shared with the team beforehand, but if there are going on for them you want to get those out so they’re not sitting in their head bogging they’re not spending the whole day waiting to have a chance to talk about the new photocopier, or something that’s frustrating them about the lack of cleanliness in the kitchen. Get those things out. Maybe you won’t be able to cover them all during the day, but if you follow this process, you’ll find a lot of the times that you do. Then we get in to the three core conversations: vision, strategy, resources. If you’re a big black board Friday’s fan, you remember one of the first videos that we shot was around the five why’s.
The different layers of context that give meaning to the decisions you make day-to-day. These are the highest three levels of context within a business. The vision which guides the strategy which then guides the resources. If you haven’t set out and documented the vision, the strategy, the resource plan, this is your chance to do it as a bit of a first draft. Maybe you’ll come back to it in a month, or six months or, next year and refine it but now’s the chance to have the conversation and get that step. If you have had that set, but now’s the time to get into the review process.
That’s why I call this an annual strategy date. Something that you do on a regular basis at least annually. It’s not something that you do every three years or five years when something hits the fan, or you find yourself stuck in the Starfall and opportunity knocks get into the consistent process of making it happen. So, reviewing your vision, you’re reviewing the commercial vision the long-term growth that you want to achieve for the business, and you’re reviewing the cultural vision which could even mean putting things like your and purpose and values on the table to be discussed and reviewed.
Oftentimes I find clients and their leadership teams use this process to affirm and tick off the commercial and cultural vision and then focus the conversation on what’s the vision for this 12-month. What is it specifically that we’re going to achieve commercially and culturally if change needs to occur in the coming year? That then guides your strategy.
So reviewing the strategic roadmap that you’ve got, where are we on that journey from now to that vision point, do we feel that the strategic steps that we’re currently focused on and that we’ve got coming up in that ordered set of priorities are the best ones to get us to that vision? These things can change, market forces change, new opportunities show up, your passion or your team’s passion may change. Review the strategy, don’t have it set in stone, but have it documented so that you can pull it out, analyze, and discuss.
Two other strategic elements that I recommended is one is your income matrix. This is the simple tool, the different products, and services you sell, the different clients or markets that you sell it into. If you’ve got a budget to the year, what’s the breakdown of that across the different services and the different markets. In a smaller business, that could be as simple as the different individuals and some of the different key clients that you’ve got. That gives a specific focus to the revenue strategy. Get into your sales hourglass. Again, if that’s not something you’re familiar with, go back to some of the earlier blackboard Friday’s videos where we dive into that in a little bit of detail.
Get clear on the sales process, the journey that your customers and future customers are going through. Where are they getting bottlenecks? Where are they getting stuck? Have you got the inflow of work that you need? And are you at the other end of the hourglass being able to leverage that into more revenue and equity opportunities?
Lastly, an examination of the resources and this is twofold. One is your resource mix. You may find that even though you’ve got all the right people in the business, they’re not necessarily playing in the right position. The skills have changed, maybe times have changed, maybe somebody’s got some spare capacity, or they’re overwhelmed and at capacity stress. Now is an opportunity to reduce some of those roles and responsibilities so that you’ve got the right people doing the right tasks at the right time. That leads naturally into a conversation about skills. Maybe even conducting the training needs analysis like we discussed in the last episode to identify where there are still gaps or perceived skill gaps in your team that over the coming 12 months, you can put forward a training plan to help them and your business navigate through developing those skills.
Lastly and this is critical and really, it’s something that runs through the whole process, execution. Being clear about the agreements and the actions that have been made during the day. I run a lot of strategy days with white boards and black boards where from the start we’ve got a section for actions and agreements that get documented at throughout the day so that when we get to the end of the day, they’re already sitting there it’s not a monumental task for any one individual.
At the end of the day ideas, and you will come up with some fantastic ideas, are completely worthless. It’s only when you execute them that you get value out of them. Execution is priceless so make sure that you don’t leave your strategy day half day-to-day off-site retreat without being very clear about what has been agreed and who is going away to do what to turn those agreements into reality to help again and as always, accelerate your business from where it is now to where you want it to be.
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