This post is aimed at those running small but fast growing businesses, who perhaps haven’t give much thought (yet) to the strategy of their business but want to begin working on it.
Importance of Business Strategy
The purpose of running strategy sessions are to:
- Solve problems
- Spark new ideas/innovation
- Make business decisions to grow your brand
Why do you need a session to do this? Because these things listed above often de-prioritised as we tend to want to focus on the urgent stuff everyday. Getting MORE clients, running MORE retreats in my case, doing MORE advertising. Without really thinking about the strategy of what we are trying to create.
What is strategy? The integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to the competition and deliver superior financial returns. (source HBR)
The stuff around creating our strategy is often the stuff still on our to-do list at the end of each week. Too few people have a succinct strategy for their brand and strategy should be the thing which underpins every business decision made. Making business decisions can be hard work and in my opinion, are best made after consulting with other people who’ve gone through similar challenges with growing their brands.
My friend Charlotte , ‘The Digital Yogi’ and I are on the same page with business strategy and she inspired me to write this post. Thanks Charlotte!
Charlotte and I met when both working in Digital Advertising over 5 years ago now. We had equal love for business, as well as movement. Therefore we played netball together and did business together (Charlotte was one of my clients)….oh and some boozy lunches too. It was a lot of fun.
Fast forward 5 years and we are both qualified yoga teachers, running our own businesses – Charlotte’s focus is on helping other wellness professionals grow their businesses through Digital Advertising whereas my focus is on creating World Class Retreats & Coaching wellness professionals to reach their goals. It is tough as there are SO SO SO many things we could each be doing so need to remember what are the things we 100% want to do and focus on V’s the things that could come a bit later down the line and right now will say a polite ‘no’ to.
Therefore our main way of hanging out is by organising Business Strategy Meetings together, which we both find to be extremely helpful. How do we run these? As follows:
Before meeting we decide:
- How long we will have together (e.g. our last one was pretty long, 4 hours ish)
- Choose an inspiring yet chilled venue. Last time we chose Benk & Bo, East London – good vibes, good coffee & food, good laptop charging facilities!
Before we meet we each decide on 3 things we’d like help on. Las time ours were something like:
- How to increase newsletter sign ups (30 min brainstorm of idea)
- Venue selection for Charlotte’s upcoming workshops (20 mins)
- Branding – what we could improve on, what outsourcing we should do to get there? (20 mins)
- Retreat locations for my yoga retreats in 2020 (20 mins)
- Target audience – how to hone in on these more with our language? (40 mins)
- Managing business finances – sharing best practices (30 mins)
We decide how long we’d like to allocate on each of the points we’ve selected (see above how I’ve done this) and then select what is our MIT each (Most Important Task) each. We ensure this is at the front of our schedule, as we want to focus on this when we have the most energy.
Voila….we now have our schedule!
3. On Arrival
We recap over the schedule we’ve laid out. Something new may have popped up e.g. a new challenge or one of our points we’d initially selected may no longer be a challenge. We adjust the above schedule if needed and nail down the 6 points we will cover during the allotted time frame ahead, agreeing this with one another.
We schedule in breaks e.g. after each point we may have a loo break/buy a coffee or a longer one for lunch and ensure it is crystal clear what we both want to come away with. How do we want to feel at the end of the session? What would we deem as a successful session?
3. The Session Itself
Since we are so well planned for the meeting, we now go through the points 1 by 1 in the order that we have already decided upon
Taking it in turns to focus on each others businesses. We keep looking at our phones to a minimum, unless something urgent pops up or we want to show each other something which is online (this does happen more than anticipated as lots of examples of the stuff we want to show each other can best be seen visually).
Each point will take 20-40 mins. We will discuss the goals we have and the challenges we are faced with, giving one another the time to fully elaborate before making suggestions on what one another should do to overcome the challenges they are faced with.
We brainstorm at hell of a lot. Airing any suggestions at all that we come up with. Discussing those further. Parking things if we need to, but really trying not to go off topic unless some miracle idea comes up. We have agreed to be there to go through the agreed agenda, not to create new business ideas.
After discussing a topic e.g. ‘How to drive more people to my newsletter’, I will likely have 5-10 good new ideas to put into practice. I will recap back to Charlotte which 1 or 2 of these I will begin by focusing on. How long I will try those ideas for and when I want her to check in with me about ‘have you done that yet?’
When a next step has been agreed we move onto the next point on the agenda. We keep going through the agenda until all 6 points are finished. Since we have pretty darn good time mgmt. we get through all the points
At the end we summarise each what we will be taking away
- What are our 2/3 priorities from today that we will get going with straight away?
- What are the other things we will focus on….just maybe not quite yet but when we have time to?
- When will we next properly check in on each others progress?
- Now time for some casual chat. Always nice to round things off with some informal chit chat about boys, yoga and ya know all that good stuff
5. Additional Thoughts
- Ensure you have a way of capturing your actions. Perhaps via Google Docs (a shared one if you want to keep track on stuff together), use your Outlook/Gmail calendar to schedule in when you will do your actions and maybe a simple notepad where you currently write your to-do list.
- Things will continually evolve. Regular strategy sessions, in my opinion, are needed to keep growing and making the changes you need to.
- Always be top of your game in understanding what your competitors are offering. I regularly go on yoga retreats myself and receive business coaching, from the best people. From this I can learn what works well and gain ideas I can steal for my own business.
Hoping this may help you to create your own awesome business strategy session with a pal or 2. I’d say limiting group size to 3, at least at the beginning, to ensure you can each get the most out of the session.
Lots of love.