Creating a sustainable business strategy (and plan)

This is the 4th blog in a series focussed on Digital entrepreneurship in South Africa.
Strategic plans are the essence of strategy, according to one classic view of strategy. A strategic plan is a carefully crafted set of steps that a firm intends to follow to be successful. Virtually every organization creates a strategic plan to guide its future. Re | Mind Virtual Academy is delivering its 3rd instalment in our blog on entrepreneurship Creating a sustainable business strategy (and plan)

Small and medium businesses are the life blood of most economies 

The definitions of small and mid-sized vary but an SME generally has between 1 and 500 employees. The point at which a business is seen as mid-sized varies between 100 and 200 employees.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are considered to be the engine of economic growth through employment generation, contribution to GDP, technological innovations and other aspects of economic and social development. The growth of SMEs depends on ability of those businesses to apply strategic planning.

If you want to work smarter — not just harder — you need a strategic plan

Defining strategy 

Boiled down to its simplest, strategy is basically about making choices. For you, which career interests you, who to marry/partner, whether to have children, or car and house ownership, and even whether investing in post-secondary education is to your advantage or not.
For corporations, which product/service to sell, the right balance of labour (people) and capital (machines) to use in producing the product/service and where to physically locate among the hundreds if not thousands of strategic choices.

Strategy is about preparing for a successful future, and for most companies that means competing to win. The success of any business is determined by the effectiveness of the strategy it follows.

It’s not uncommon for a company to have multiple strategies at each level. In fact, this is essential to ensure that the different needs of each layer are accurately reflected.
Although multiple strategies carry the risk of conflicting priorities and objectives, these risks can be reduced if managed correctly.

There are four levels at which strategies are typically used

It’s not uncommon for a company to have multiple strategies at each level. In fact, this is essential to ensure that the different needs of each layer are accurately reflected.
Although multiple strategies carry the risk of conflicting priorities and objectives, these risks can be reduced if managed correctly.
• Corporate level strategy.
Corporate Level: Corporate level strategies are the strategic plans of an organisation’s top management. They form the mission and vision statement and have a fundamental impact on the firm’s long-term performance. They guide decisions around growth, acquisitions, diversification and investments.

• Business level strategy.
Business Level: Business level strategies integrate into the corporate vision, but with a focus on a specific business. At this level, the vision and objectives are turned into concrete strategies that inform how a business is going to compete in the market.

Functional level strategy.
Functional Level: Functional level strategies are designed to answer how functional departments like Marketing, HR or R&D can support the defined business and corporate strategies of an organization.

Operational level strategy.
Managers at the operational level in a company occupy the lowest rung in the management hierarchy. These managers directly supervise employees and may be known as first-line or front-line managers, supervisors, team leaders or team facilitators are directed in terms of their duties.

A good strategy should have the following characteristics. 

Significance: material improvement to your organization
Realism: achievable and consistent with the existing organization resources and goals
Measurable: comparable against the expected benefits, to manage and learn
Clarity: little or no ambiguity for all the organization about the “what” and “why” of the strategy
Inclusiveness: to aid implementation and avoid alienation of certain groups

However, if you are an SME that does not have that level of function in your company. let us talk about the very least you should be executing.

  • Vision
    Your vision statement captures a desired future state of being. This is an aspirational statement that captures a huge, long-term change you hope to see in the world (or in your business) as a result of your very existence.
  • Mission
    Your mission statement succinctly states what you exist to do. This is also a somewhat aspirational statement, but it captures the larger actions you are taking to bring your vision to life.
  • Goals
    Goals are long-term, concrete outcomes that contribute to the fulfilment of your mission. The “SMART” framework is useful when setting goals: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. I typically recommend businesses only set these one to three years out.

  • Objectives
    Objectives are specific outcomes that map back to your strategy. Objectives differ from strategy and goals in that they are measurable short-term outcomes.

  • Strategy
    Strategy is where you will focus your efforts to achieve your goals, and how you will succeed—or “where to play and how to win.” It defines a specific course of action that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

And finally, how to practically go about it.  

  1. Identify issues. The first step in developing a sustainable business strategy is examining your current business practices to identify areas to improve.
  2. Consult with stakeholders and employees.
  3. Set realistic and specific goals.
  4. Create a plan.
  5. Track your progress.
To get a kick start on what is required to understand and apply your Strategic thinking in a digital environment, take a look at our Entrepreneurship Baics course (Entrepreneurship Basics - An Overview). 
This course is applicable to ANYONE who wants a solid, basic introduction to what Entrepreneurship is all about, and how it can be practically applied in setting up a successful and sustainable business. This course gives you entrepreneurship fundamentals, such as drafting a business plan, knowing your competition, and successful marketing.


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The reason for our existence is based on our passion and commitment to the educational future of this country, and how we can help bring this country into the future of education.

With R|M|V|A, you can engage in interactive and immersive learning learn from anywhere, anytime and on any channel.

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