Five Questions to Ask Yourself About Strategy

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On April 30, 2012

Many an entrepreneur has launched a business with a great idea. And great ideas are really important. But great ideas by themselves don’t bring success. In order to succeed, it is critical for a company to have a strategy. They need to understand how they are going to bring their great idea to market.

If you’re a business leader, here are five questions you need to ask yourself in order to develop your business strategy.

1. What are my company’s core values and beliefs? Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? And yet, you’d be surprised how many companies can’t clearly articulate their core values and beliefs. Here’s the real test: Can you explain your core values and beliefs to a total stranger in 30 seconds or less? If you can’t, you probably don’t have a grip on these things yourself. Forget flowery language. We’re talking no-nonsense basics here. If you can’t articulate your core values and beliefs, how will you keep your business on track?

2. What makes my company great? Another way to ask that is: “What are our top 3-5 core competencies?” You need to be able to define the things you do really well and make sure your activities are focused on those things. Those are the things that will differentiate you from your competition. Then you can look at the areas where you’re not so great and either develop those area yourself—or partner with someone who excels in those areas. But don’t sacrifice your core competency.

3. What is my company’s mission or purpose? Why do we exist? This is different from your values. This is about what you do.  Can you clearly and concisely state this without resorting to insider jargon? Can you explain this to someone from outside your industry in a way that they quickly understand it? You can’t engage in the right activities if you don’t know why you’re doing them. Remember, it’s not about being busy—it’s about being productive.

4. What is my company’s Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal? Is it measurable? If it’s not measureable how will you know if you’re making progress? Is your goal Big, Hairy, and Audacious? Employees aren’t inspired to greatness by wimpy goals. You don’t want to set goals that are impossible to attain—but they need to be big enough that they stretch your employees beyond what they think is possible.

5. Do people in my company know our company’s core strategies and can they state them clearly and concisely? Of course this assumes that you, as the leader, can do this. If you can’t do it, you can’t expect your employees to be able to do it.  But once you’ve got it down, what are you doing to pass this information on to your employees? Are you reviewing your strategies in regular meetings? What are you doing to encourage employees to internalize this? How can you reward employees who “get it”?