Business strategy takes many forms but has its roots in one simple idea: Identify and satisfy customer needs in a way that is unique from the competition. And be ready to seize opportunities quickly and efficiently.
It’s not at all uncommon for businesses to find their product and service specialties in unique ways.
Consider Sunbeam Corporation, makers of household appliances, which began in the late 1800’s as the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, manufacturing tools for grooming horses. There were several iterations in between, each the direct result of customer demand and the ability to shift internal processes in that direction.
The Wrigley Company did not start out making chewing gum. The Philadelphia-based company began as a manufacturer of soap. When the founder’s son moved to Chicago to expand the reach of the business, he began to offer free samples of baking powder with each purchase. That worked so well, he ditched the soap and focused on selling baking powder, complete with a free sample of chewing gum. The chewing gum became so popular, he created two brands, Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint gum, and well, you know the rest.
Some would say that these two businesses (and countless others) didn’t plan for success as much as they happened into it. A closer look indicates otherwise.
Business strategy takes many forms but has its roots in one simple idea: Identify and satisfy customer needs in a way that is unique from the competition. And be ready to seize on opportunities quickly and efficiently.
The best strategic business plans have these three characteristics: they enable organizations to be fast, fluid, and flexible.
Think about your business. How many products, programs and services are you offering now that you did not have ten years ago? Five years ago? And more importantly, as you plan your future, what will you be offering (products and services) to whom (target customers), with what (production and service capability) and with whom (talented team members). In other words, what will your business look like 3-5 years from now?
Strategy and planning are not about trying to predict the future. Rather, they create an organizational competency around recognizing, addressing, and capitalizing on emerging customer needs in a way that outshines the competition.
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