Developing a strategic profile for your small business typically involves documenting your business concept, driving forces, competitive analysis, future products, marketing strategy and critical issues. This profile provides a description of what an organization wants to become. It helps you make decisions and choices regarding products, customers and markets. By thinking strategically, you can determine what your organization should look like in the future and how to achieve this vision.
To create a strategic profile, assemble a team of people to identify all of the key elements of your business concept and your operating environment. This team might be comprised of employees, customers, suppliers and sponsors. You also can create an online questionnaire to collect detailed information, conduct focus groups or hold interviews to gather data. You want to gather opinions on the internal environment, such as products, markets, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses, as well the external environment, including competitive products, emerging opportunities and areas of vulnerability.
A company’s business concept determines the scope of products and services sold, organizational structure, selling techniques, distribution model and staff required. It sets the tone for the business. After you get everyone’s ideas, hold brainstorming meetings to reach consensus on the concept and forces driving your business. Depending on the current driving forces identified, you may decide to choose a different strategy than your previous approach. For example, if your organization is product-driven, look for new customers for your current products. If your organization is user-driven, consult with customers to identify new ideas for different products. Technology-driven organizations seek out new applications for existing technology and then build products or services, while a marketing-driven company finds ways to sell new products to current customers using existing sales and marketing strategies. After brainstorming, you should be able to identify two or three driving forces to which your company can successfully respond. You can then draft a strategic profile based on these forces and then test your assumptions to refine your strategy.
The strategic profile development process typically involves making a forecast, conducting a resource audit, examining strategic alternatives and choosing a direction. This strategic planning exercise ensures that your company has the skills, knowledge and tools to make the strategy work. You can also use online tools to monitor other company’s information. These databases help you gain insight into competitor's history, activities and experience. Use this data to spot and evaluate trends so you can identify potential areas of growth for your business.
Once you have clarified your current situation, identified the variables or factors influencing your company, developed a draft strategic profile and compared yourself with competitors, you should be able to identify critical issues that need your attention. Conducting a SWOT analysis helps you isolate these issues. To do this, identify specific strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. For example, strengths might be unique product offerings and current dominance. Weaknesses might be staff shortages and lack of funding for future development. Opportunities could include potential emerging markets in other countries and and threats might be competitive products that may overtake your current market position. By using this technique to test the viability of your strategic profile, you can refine your strategic plan to so that you can achieve the best possible outcome.
- The Strategist CEO: How Visionary Executives Build Organizations; Michel Robert
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Strategic Profiles
- Mind Tools: SWOT Analysis
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.