In the modern business world, things move fast and change is constant. Developing the agility required to keep pace with changing business landscapes and demands is one thing. The ability to recognize when your business strategy is not setting you up for long-term success is another.
A complete shift in business strategy can be a stressful undertaking. The good news? Successful businesses course correct and change direction all the time. It's not uncommon to have to shift your strategic focus more than once throughout its lifespan. Think of the most storied and successful companies globally—Starbucks, Apple, Nike, Microsoft. These companies have faced the risk of lost relevancy or revenue and paved a new path forward.
In this article, we'll uncover some ways to decide when it's time for your business to revamp its strategy and key tools to make the process easier. Let's dig in.
How to determine whether your business strategy should change
Business optimization is the primary goal of every business leader. The most successful companies are continually looking at their people, processes, and tools to ensure the business is running smoothly and efficiently. But how can you tell whether individual processes or products need a refresh or its time for a complete overhaul?
Here are a few questions to ask to determine whether it's time to take another look at your strategic approach.
Are you losing market share?
Take a hard look at your company's key performance indicators (KPIs) and financial indicators. Has revenue or retention taken a hit? If so, was the decline gradual or sudden? Are you still attracting plenty of customers but having a more challenging time retaining them? Looking at these metrics over time will give you the insight you need to know whether you're facing a short-term dip or a longer-term slump.
Are you still part of the conversation?
You're very aware of your competition—are you still on their radar, too? Do some social listening to pay attention to what people are saying about your company or product. Negative feedback or chatter provides the opportunity to address any issues and understand what type of product or service your target market is looking for. Beware if you see a significant dip in engagement across channels—your brand is only as valuable as the conversations had about it.
Do your customers look and act the same?
Business changes fast, yes. But customers may change even faster. The digital economy has raised the expectations of everyday consumers, which means it takes more to woo, wow, and wed customers for life. It's still possible to drive long-time loyalty, but only if you keep pace with changing demands and expectations. In an economy with more options than ever, it's the only way to stay competitive.
Is your company able to attract and retain talent?
Employees don't leave jobs — they leave bosses. They also leave when they see no long-term growth opportunity. If long-time employees are jumping ship, or you're finding it harder to attract the kind of top-level talent you need, it might be time to look at your strategic roadmap. What are your people not seeing?
Does it feel like the company is running you?
Are you merely chasing the next investment to stay relevant or scrambling to keep up with the competition? That means you're not running your company—your company is running you. When your business is aligned strategically for success, your team can spend more time on proactive optimization and less on reactive decision-making.
Have you become a legacy (and not in a good way)?
Legacies are timeless. They're something to aspire to. But legacy has a flipside, too. The most successful businesses lean into the core values and offerings that led to their longevity, but they're also continually checking those offerings against the current climate. If your customer experience is feeling completely dated, it might be time for a fresh look at your strategy.
How to get started on a strategy shift
Revamping your business strategy is no small feat. Here are some clear steps you can take to make the venture feel more manageable.
Do your research
Before you make any move, do a deep dive into your current KPIs and metrics. Which KPIs are most important to your business? When and where did things start going awry? Armed with this information, you can then layer on user research, market and industry research, and qualitative insight from employee interviews to create a clear vision of where your business should be headed.
Conduct a planning session and chart a new course
If you decide it’s time to shift strategy, lean in. Schedule a Design Thinking Workshop or strategic planning session to map out your strategic vision, assign tasks, and loop in key stakeholders. Use the research you’ve gathered to create a clear roadmap for the future of your business.
Evangelize, educate, and train
A shift in strategy can be an exciting first step toward refreshed business success. However, it's important to consider the impact of such a change on your employees and the company culture.
Of course, employee input should be an integral part of mapping out a new strategy. If employees feel like they've been brought along for the ride, they'll be more likely to help you evangelize the changes across your organization. Once you set your new strategy into motion, schedule education and training sessions to ensure everyone feels up to speed on the new priorities and comfortable with their role in the company.
Reevaluate and optimize
Of course, business optimization is never finished. You've done your homework, so don't be too worried if you notice any concerning performance indicators out of the gate—give your strategy a bit of breathing room. Evaluate your business strategy adjustment six months after you implement your new strategy, and then again at a year. Expand initiatives that show promising results, and cut back or refine those that don't.
Tools to help you visualize your current business strategy (and establish a new one)
You can't blaze a new trail without clearly visualizing and evaluating where you've been. Maybe you've conducted a SWOT analysis before. When deciding to shift your strategy, it's helpful to conduct a current and future state SWOT analysis — complete the exercise based on your existing strategic priorities, then fill out a new quadrant after you've built out a new plan. This before-and-after exercise will help you identify gaps in your current strategy and strengths and weaknesses in your new plan.
A business model canvas goes a few steps further in modeling and identifying ways to test or optimize any new initiative or plan and provides a way to collaborate with stakeholders, visualize cost and profit centers, and identify key value propositions.
With a clear vision of your company's strengths and weaknesses, tactical execution centers, and value props, you can create clear product and strategy roadmaps to ensure teams are aligned and moving toward the same goal.
Business strategy changes are key to business longevity. But you don’t need to sacrifice your brand vision to the altar of innovation. By fostering a culture of change and optimization, you can stay true to the brand values that brought you success while staying innovative and relevant for your next generation of customers.
Now that you’ve determined it’s time to revamp your business strategy, learn how to get started strategic planning in Lucidspark.Try it now
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