Resources and Tools

What is a Business Strategy?

The phrase ‘Business Strategy’ can sound both impressive and important but it also often sounds vague and detached.

Business Strategy Defined

There is a lot of jargon that surrounds business strategy but put simply:

Business Strategy is the overall, long-term plan of an organisation to fulfil it’s purpose.

A business strategy is not the same as a business plan. A business strategy is based on a longer timescale and may incorporate multiple business plans. For example, a cleaning company may have a one year business plan for it’s domestic business and another one year plan for it’s commercial business whilst it’s 5 year business strategy […]

SMART Goals for Small Business

Are your goals helping or hurting your small business? SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. It is a simple but useful checklist that you can use to ensure your goals are fit for purpose.

SpecificSMART Goals

General goals only produce general results.  If you want specific results then make sure your goals are well defined.

Use the following questions to help define your goals.

  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • What?
  • Who?
  • How?’

Measurable

If your goals are not measurable how will you know if they have been achieved or not. For example, ‘we will improve quality’ is […]

Your Small Business Competitive Advantage

What makes your small business different from your competitors? Why should people buy your product or service instead of another?

Porter’s Generic Strategies

In his book ‘Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance’, Michael Porter identified three strategies for gaining a competitive advantage over your competition. These strategies are ‘Cost Leadership’, ‘Differentiation’ and ‘Focus’.  Porter further split the ‘Focus’ strategy between ‘Cost Focus’ and ‘Differentiation Focus’.

Competitive Advantage - Porter's Generic Strategies

Cost Leadership

The Cost Leadership strategy is being the producer with the lowest costs in a market where competing products are indistinguishable. […]

4 Steps to Selling your Small Business Product

Selling is the reason that your small business exists. If you’re not selling you’re not in business.

AIDA is an acronym that is used in advertising and sales that stands for ‘Attention’, ‘Interest’, ‘Desire’ and ‘Action’. It is used in combination with the ‘Sales Funnel’ also known as the ‘Purchasing Funnel’.

The model recognises that as people progress from initial advertising to the point of purchase that the total number of potential customers decrease. For example you advertise to win the attention of the total market but only some of the market shows an interest, and then even fewer have the desire to own the […]

Managing Risk in your Small Business

What are the largest risks to your small business? Do you have plans in place to reduce those risks?

Risk cannot be eliminated but it can be managed. The following tool is a way to record, prioritise and monitor individual risks so that you can reduce their impact on your business.

Tool for Managing Risk in a Small Business

Step 1: Identify risks

A risk is an uncertain event that if it happened would negatively affect your business.

Brainstorm across every aspect of your business to identify all significant risks. Consider both internal and external risks.

Step […]

4 Stages of the Small Business Product Life Cycle

No product lasts forever. Do you know where your small business product is in its product life cycle? Are you introducing tomorrow’s product, today?

The ‘Product Life Cycle’ is a model that predicts the general trend that most successful products or services will follow during their lifetime.

The Product Life Cycle for Small BusinessStage 1: Introduction

As a product is introduced there will usually be high costs in bringing it to market but low sales resulting in initial losses.

Stage 2: Growth

If the market decides it wants the product, sales increase; and unit costs […]

Overcoming Small Business Hearing Loss

Does your small business have a hearing problem? Does it hear but not listen? ‘Active Listening’ is a technique that recognises that effective listening only happens when it is done intentionally.

  • Hearing is your ability to recognize sound.
  • Listening is the process by which you assign meaning to what you hear and observe.

The complication is that listening is a subjective process. Anyone that has been in a romantic relationship for more than a day knows that “I’m fine” doesn’t always mean “I’m fine”!

The following steps will help you start ‘Active Listening’.

Step 1: Give your undivided attention

  • Focus on the speaker.
  • Decide not to be […]

4 Keys to Marketing your Small Business Offering

When was the last time you reviewed how your small business is promoting and selling to your customers?

The ‘Marketing Mix’, also known as the ‘4 Ps’, is used to review your product or service. A review may take place as a one-off exercise or as part of an annual review of your business strategy. The four elements of the ‘Marketing Mix’ are ‘Product’, ‘Price’, ‘Place’ and ‘Promotion’.

Marketing Mix for Small Business

Product

  • Physical – feel, colour, sizes etc
  • Benefits provided
  • Brand
  • Tangible and Intangible elements
  • Packaging
  • Warranties
  • Product development

Price

  • Value or quality
  • Value of benefit provided
  • Market segment pricing
  • Customer […]

‘5 Whys’ to your Small Business Answer

Do you get to the root cause of your small business problems? Or, like many do you revisit the same problems regularly?

The ‘5 Whys’ technique.

The Toyota Motor Company recognised that by asking the question “Why?” continuously of a problem that they would usually get to it’s root cause in five attempts.

Of course whilst the technique has become known as the ‘5 Whys’ this was just their observation. You may have your answer in three attempts or you may still be asking the question after 10 attempts. The essence of the ‘5 Whys’ is that it’s going to take you longer […]

SWOT Analysis

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your small business? What should your business be taking advantage of and what should it be avoiding? If you can’t answer these questions then a SWOT Analysis is the place to start.

A SWOT analysis is a simple but effective tool that gives you a snapshot of how well your business is doing. It’s value is in prompting you to ask the right questions about your small business. However, as with all business models, it’s usefulness is limited by how honestly and objectively it is used. Ideally you would go through this process with […]

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