In 2011 I took the scary step of starting my own consultancy. I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved!) by the demand and over the following four years grew at an increasingly rapid rate so that by 2015 I had a team of five. It had started to weigh on my mind that I was responsible for five livelihoods and that my approach to making decision on the run was perhaps no longer enough.
And so I went in search of someone who could guide me on building a longer term business plan. At the time I was completely sceptical about business coaches and strategists, having heard all the horror stories. But after a careful search and numerous discussions over coffee, I found the right one and we kicked off.
Looking back six years later, it never ceases to amaze me how far we have come with our strategy.
The evolution of our strategic plan has been remarkable – you wouldn’t recognise us as the same company if you compared our 2015 to our 2021 strategic plan. We started with a grandiose moonshot goal that was something akin to world domination of the HR scene, a brand promise that spread us thinly across every sector and industry, and our values were all the cliched words of respect, honesty, integrity etc.
But I am not trying to be disrespectful of our 2015 efforts – we were intensely proud of it; it gave us the direction we needed; and it was a great starting place.
As our strategic muscle has become more finely tuned and our review and reset process more mature; we have gradually honed our strategic plan to something that we can now express on one page. And our core elements – our moonshot, our purpose, our values and our brand promise have been captured in a beautifully simplistic graphic.
While our strategic thinking and implementation planning system has driven this, it is ultimately the people who bring strategy to life. Our team had been with us on the journey of making major business decisions based on our purpose; exiting team members who breached our values; and choosing to lose clients where there was a lack of alignment even when it meant taking a financial hit. Our team knows that the core elements of our strategy are not just pretty words, they are not just something to put on a wall, and not something that we only stick to when it is convenient.
And so when we put everything on the table at our last strategy retreat, we had intense buy-in, robust discussion, lots of laughs and plenty of challenges. We are proud of the outcome, but also conscious of the words of Winston Churchill, ‘Success is not final’ – we will not stop challenging ourselves.
My message for every small business out there … you don’t have to get it perfect the first time, but if you never start, you will never get there. So this is my encouragement to you to take the leap, and start flexing your strategic thinking, not matter how large or small your business is. If you want to talk further, reach out – we are always happy to share.