Developing Your Business Strategy From the Outside-in
How long have you been in business? How does today’s market compare to when you started out? How has your competitive landscape changed, have there been shifts in the industry as a whole, and what is your strategy to adapt to each of those changes? Successful businesses are asking these questions several times a year, reviewing their business model and products, and shifting to stay ahead of the pack.
It’s important to keep in mind that there is more involved than seeking the internal perspective, that of your staff, board, or executive setting, of what strategic changes have to happen to win in your industry. Many times these internal perspectives are steeped in politics, long-standing and habitual practices supported by rigid mindsets fixed in the past. These stalwart notions lead to a resistance to change and innovation and are in the way of your company’s ability to win.
How to Win in your Industry
Innovation requires broadening your scope to include both peripheral and focussed attention on internal and external triggers. It takes the examination and potential acceptance of new ideas that seem at odds with your own beliefs and inconsistent or contrary to your existing views. To help keep an open mind and a constant pulse on the market, pay close attention to these leading indicators of change.
- Swings in perspective based on what your customers, partners, and investors have to say and how they behave.
- Macro trends reflected in the stock market, your specific industry, and target market- both actual and perceptual- that run contrary to the way you have always run your business and envisioned your business goals.
This approach only works when you are open, receptive, and prepared to be wrong. Otherwise, your own natural biases and beliefs will screen out, filter, or distort potential findings. The key to discovering new breakthrough ideas is often breaking away from old ones.
As part of the business strategy development process, test out your hypothesis, construct what you imagined so that you can make your conceptual ideas concrete enough for others to see what you are thinking. In the process, you may find the error in your own ways, or new paths previously overlooked. This process of “pretotyping” is useful in testing your offering, fine-tuning and shaping, or recreating your BIG IDEA at an accelerated pace.
To sum up: be proactive about your business strategy, consider all the internal and external variables that affect your chance for success, then test with a pretotype to ensure that your big idea really works for your customers. In the fluid and fast-moving business world, there is simply no time to use the shotgun strategy for your next set of goals and products. A surgical tactic with consumer testing is the way to surpass your competition.