At this time of great political and regulatory change, how can SMEs plan for the long term?
Taking a strategic view of business planning remains as important as ever, but the way this is done in practice has been transformed in recent years. More traditional thinking, which once focused around USPs, is no longer flexible enough in a more transient world. This is to the benefit of dynamic small companies, which can quickly bring an idea to market, test it in real time and evolve as they go.
Less taxing business model
Take Uber, while they have perhaps been in the news for the wrong reasons recently, the strategic point is that 20 years ago the creation of a new taxi brand would have required significant up-front capital and a prolonged planning process geared towards long-term success.
By contrast, Uber has disrupted the market, established itself quickly and begun to generate turnover and enterprise value – if not yet profits – without owning any of the vehicles used. Its model means that, as soon as economic or regulatory conditions become less favourable, it will either morph or move on to the next idea. And this is already happening with its acquisition of a driverless vehicle company.
7 tips for more agile planning
1. Organise your business to fit market opportunities
2. Find partners, so you can keep costs down and build new models and/or offerings
3. Innovate so you can help your customers do their jobs better, more quickly or cheaply
4. Make the most of any opportunity quickly and move on if it lacks ‘legs’
5. Measure twice and cut once, but be prepared to mess up and evolve
6. Review and update your strategy constantly, while retaining your goals
7. Watch out for market disruptors, which may come ‘out of left field’
Say goodbye to the sacred cow
Today, much competitive advantage is transient and will probably last six months at best. So instead of treating your core product or service as a sacred cow, continually assess opportunities, grab hold of them, exploit them, examine them through a cold, dispassionate lens, then reconfigure or move on.
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