Building Blocks for Making Strategic Business Decisions

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On January 27, 2014

The decisions you make in your business today have a huge impact on your success tomorrow. Some decisions you make are big and broad. They relate back to your company’s vision and mission.

But in order to fulfill your vision and mission, you have to make some key strategic decisions. You might think of these as “How-exactly-are-we-going-to-get-this-done?” decisions. You can’t afford to be casual about these business decisions. But how do you ensure that your decisions are strategic—that they will move your business in the right direction?

Here are some areas—building blocks, if you will—in your business where you need to make strategic decisions. There may be other areas that are important, but these will give you a framework. When you think strategically about these areas, it will help you achieve your larger mission and vision goals.

  • Customer Segments: Your business has more than one kind of customer. Define your different customer segments. Then when you make decisions about products, pricing, and services, carefully think through how those actions will affect the various segments.
  • Value Propositions: Is your unique value proposition (UVP) absolutely clear to each outward-facing employee?  As you work on strategies for marketing and customer service, make sure that employees are using your UVP (what you do best) to solve customer problems and meet their needs.
  • Channels: How exactly are you going to deliver your value propositions to your customers? What are your communication channels? What are your distribution channels? How will you handle sales? Does it make more sense to handle these functions in house, or should you outsource them?
  • Customer Relationships: Maintaining good relationships with your is not a one-size-fits-all propositions. You’ll want to cultivate and maintain those relationships by customer segment—knowing that what is helpful/useful to one segment may be completely different than what you do for another segment.
  • Revenue Streams: When you successfully deliver your value proposition to your customers, you generate revenue streams. Are there new ways you can do this?  What would be in involved in making that happen?
  • Key Resources: What are your key resources? What are the assets that are essential for you to be able to deliver value to customers? These assets could be financial, intellectual, or raw materials. What are you doing to ensure you maintain these resources?
  • Key Activities: In the same way, there are certain key activities that are essential in order to keep delivering value. Have you identified them? What steps do you need to take to ensure that you never neglect these—even as you pursue new activities?
  • Key Partnerships: You’ve heard the phrase, “No man is an island.” It’s true in business as well. What decisions do you need to make to ensure that your key partnerships are solid and secure? These partnerships could be outsourced services, or they could be in the form of suppliers of resources.
  • Cost Structure: Your cost structure isn’t arbitrary. It’s built on all of the elements above. Does the cost structure you use match all the other elements of your business model?

If you’d like some specific, detailed help in creating a business model that will help you make sure the decisions you make are strategic and will enable you to build a better business foundation, you may enjoy this paper from Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur.