Business Strategy: A 3 Step Guide to Getting Yours Right

John Courtney is Founder and Chief Executive of which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/Managing Directors), Non-Executive Directors and paid Mentors to SMEs without either a recruitment fee or a long term contract.

John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40 year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK Entrepreneurs.

Your business strategy is about what you want your business to become as it grows.  Planning your strategy properly is important to your business’s success, so take the time to prepare and do it right.

It’s always a good idea to work as a group. Each member of your Board of Directors brings their own experience, and could provide insight that you would never have thought of.

This is a meeting where having someone with a defined Chairman role can be very useful. There’s a lot to get through and you don’t want to get bogged down in the wrong details, or skip ahead. This is why having a proper planning process is such an important thing. 

Using the 3 steps in this guide, your strategy meetings will produce a business plan to be proud of.

SWOT: What Makes Your Business?

A classic for a very good reason, SWOT analysis is a great tool you can use to understand your business and its place in your market.

SWOT breaks these two ideas down into 4 areas. 2 are internal to your business, 2 are external.

  • Strengths – what does your business do well?
  • Weakness – what doesn’t your business do well?
  • Opportunities – what opportunities are available to you?
  • Threats – what threats might your business have to face?

SWOT helps you understand what changes you might need to make to your business, be they shoring up a weakness or seizing an easy opportunity. Many things can be both an opportunity and a threat, so try and explore everything that could come out of a situation. 

Crisis: Responding to Threats

Crisis Analysis is about how you can improve your business’s resilience in the face of major setbacks. Although you’ll end up with some concrete crisis plans, it’s the ideas you come up with that really matter.

List Possible Crises

Working with your Board, create a list of crises that would negatively affect your business if they were to happen. Every department of your business will probably be aware of different weaknesses and possible problems, so just get everything down now. 

Analyse Your List

Starting with how it would affect the whole world and moving down to your business, consider the damage such a crisis would cause. This will help you detail a whole web of consequences beyond what you would have initially considered if you had just thought about your own operations. 

How Would You Respond

Now you have a list of threats and the effects they may have, you can plan out how to deal with them. What changes can be made now to reduce risks? What things are common to multiple crises?

You’ll never be able to predict everything that will happen to you. Building your resilience and understanding crisis responses that work in a lot of situations will help prepare you better if things do go wrong.

MOST: Define Your Mission

Where do you want to go? This doesn’t mean a general statement like grow or increase profits. Your business strategy works best when built from a hard target. MOST Analysis is great for where your business needs to go. It builds up your business plan in 4 steps:

  • Mission – your end goal. Use something specific, like grow 10% by the end of the year.
  • Objectives – what needs to happen for you to succeed in your mission? E.g. upgrade IT, increase manufacturing.
  • Strategies – what are the options available for you to meet your objectives?
  • Tactics – what actionable tasks are needed for each strategy. By the end of the meeting, your Directors should have something to do.

Few strategic plans will be complete when written from one perspective alone. You can’t be an expert on all of business, so use the expertise of your Board

Fitting it Together

MOST can be informed by the first two steps. They can point out important things to change and strategies to try. Crisis Analysis can benefit from SWOT by using the threats and weaknesses to form a picture of what most threatens your business. 

So long as you keep good notes, this will always be there to come back to. Business strategy always has an element of trial and error. If you find that a strategy didn’t work, you can use your planning notes to find more options without going back to the drawing board.

A Strategy Director could be what your business needs to create a great business strategy. They could chair your meeting, keep things on track, and monitor implementation. 

Boardroom Advisors provides a range of part-time director-level support for scale-ups and SMEs, including Strategy Directors with flexible contracts to suit your workload and budget.