By Sancho Simmonds, Assurance and Business Services Partner at Smith & Williamson

A clearly articulated business strategy is fundamental to the success of your business. But, it’s important that it actually works!

Validating or ‘testing’ your strategy to ensure that your business idea is commercially viable and that there’s proven market demand is therefore an essential part of the process.

Once you’re satisfied with your strategy, it should be translated into tactics. Here are five practical steps to achieving your strategic goals.

1. Set clear targets — Adopt a planning horizon, perhaps three years, and describe in one or two sentences what you would like the business to look like at the end of this period. Base your vision on a realistic analysis of your market, your competition and the opportunities and threats facing the business.

2. Identify critical success factors — Identify four or five factors that are crucial to you achieving your three-year aim. Specify what targets and measures you will use for each factor to demonstrate that you are on-course during the period.

3. Prioritise — Against each success factor, identify your tactics for year one and clarify responsibility for each tactic. Consider what could go wrong and include measures to reduce or manage these risks.

4. Develop your strategy as a team — The active involvement of your senior team will yield additional ideas and insights, whilst increasing buy-in and commitment.

5. Implementation is everything — A well-developed strategy achieves nothing without effective implementation. Use the strategy to set personal objectives and to ensure that critical success factors are properly managed. But don’t be afraid to change plans and priorities if circumstances dictate.

For help with testing your strategy and building your business, call Sancho Simmonds on 020 7131 4590 or email sancho.simmonds@smith.williamson.co.uk

By necessity this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Article correct at time of writing.

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The word partner is used to refer to a member of Smith & Williamson LLP.