Exploring entrepreneurial strategy realism

 As the year begins, we should strengthen our entrepreneurial strategy by moving from the general strategic planning process to focus on specific cogs that suit and control what we really do.

A business with its operations not linked to any strategy is heading towards early extinction. In fact, it is directionless especially in this age where customers are having a variety of options from other providers as close substitutes of your offerings. 

Like what was said in other past discussions, almost every entrepreneurial business starts by operating in a perfect competition, hence it cannot be a monopoly (with perfect control of the market price and production) at the inception.

Hence, competition is unavoidable as the business strategically goes through all its levels of growth.

 As the year begins, we should strengthen our entrepreneurial strategy by moving from the general strategic planning process to focus on specific cogs that suit and control what we really do.

In this edition, we look at some generic strategy practicalities which are applicable to most types of businesses.

Those are common since businesses operate differently from one sector to another even in the same line of production (also with different challenges and opportunities).  

To start with, is a vision of the entrepreneurial business.

It has been referred to as the longer-term aspiration in building a business strategy.

The same applies with the operation of our SMEs where a vision should strategically lead the way(s) towards success and profitability.

As said in Proverbs 29:18 that “where there is no vision, the people perish…”

Most of our likely to have succeeded entrepreneurs can tell that their demise was due to a Jack-of-all-trades way of running business. 

They did not have a clear vision to guide their growth hence they perished. 

 In fact, such a business is going to be all over the show so as to waste resources on things that don›t contribute to a positive bottom-line.

A vision starts and ends on promising the business itself and any other on what it intends to achieve in the far future.

It is also foundational in defining the targeted markets/customers and helps in coming up with mechanisms for knowing the customers better.

Such as directing on the type of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to install for higher customer retention.

This means that in our set-up and proceedings as strategic entrepreneurs with a vision, we are able to serve the customers better through being proactive  in producing what they are really expecting from us.

Also it  helps strengthen accuracy in the development of our market segments, types of marketing communications to apply, the human skills required, level of business outsourcing, partners to work with and succession planning.

Hence, informing on the level of preparedness by the business in all these aspects. These are critical matters in setting-up a business for its survival and sustained growth. 

At the same time, as aforementioned, competition will be dealt with in advance (rather than being reactive after being overtaken by competitors) through being proactive in coming up with both defensive and offensive mechanisms that are guided and strengthened by the vision. 

 It is an art of war as discovered in the Army where the entrepreneur will be able to see any movements of the competitors before they attack.

So, it is vital to go back to the drawing board and develop a vision that will strategically lead processes rather than being a mere promise to treat.

Secondly, it is important to note that a vision should be supported by what the business is doing on a day to day basis as the “mission” statement.

It might be taken in a simple way as a statement but this should also be practice.

At this stage, an entrepreneur should be able to define and make available specific business resources (especially labour and capital) amongst other infrastructure to meet the longer aspirations of a business.

It is a structured approach in enterprising where through a defined mission you then recruit adequate and rightly skilled employees in all operations at the same time investing adequate financial capital. 

Also it helps in mobilising the right information technologies to use in business engineering/re-engineering processes.

That is when a strategy is simplified to a mission that will be practiced by those who own the implementation phase as middle level managers cascading down to operations and lower level staff. Even with most entrepreneurial businesses being small not to have such structures it is important to prepare for growth.

Some of our businesses have become strategically misaligned as they waited for a time which never came. Do it now!!! 

In such a way, it then makes it easier for the entrepreneurial business to come up with some gluing points that goes on to make it capable for synergetic team work now and in the future.

This is by coming up with specific organisational values to be driving every aspect of the business so as to become the culture in the way we do business.

Remember that interactions as born from the values within the business is strategic as it defines us in the minds of our global customers.

That is by reflecting who we are towards satisfaction of their needs and wants.

It is important to know that the strategic planning processes we are supposed to follow going forward should be guided by specific pillars that help in measuring execution of the vision.

These pillars include use of data and assumptions to mention but a few.  Real data in terms of percentage market share owned and expected.

Developing business assumptions such as those to do with currency reforms, inflation rate and extent of brain drain.

Also disaster management and global political changes as required for a proper strategic planning by the entrepreneur.

The reason being that strategic matters should be measurable and conform to the changing business and physical environment.

There is more in the strategy of a business than simple displays of the vision, mission and core values on the walls. Think about it as we grow into strategy realism.   

*Dr Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the head of management and entrepreneurship at the Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance. His doctoral research focused on business administration (destination marketing and branding major, Ukzn, SA). He is into agribusiness and consults for many companies in Zimbabwe and Africa. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at [email protected], www.fachip.co.zw, WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871

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