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Shifting Strategies

Monday, February 10, 2014   By Mike Reddy


I happened to be watching a basketball game over the break and saw an analogy to business – and to coaching.

A basketball player recognises their original route to the basket has been blocked: what do they do?  Easy- without a second thought, they pivot and shift strategies, rerouting themselves onto the quickest and easiest route to the basket.  Two points!

When it comes to obstacles in the original plan, small business owners need to act with the same grace, coordination and speed as a trained athlete does, taking in the scenario and shifting strategies with deft ability. 

It also helps to make sense of the relationship between business coaches and business owners and athletic coaches and their charges.

Sometimes the biggest challenge in shifting strategies is actually recognising the need for a shift. 

The art of the strategy shift is in changing the course while still moving towards the original goal.  It’s not about abandoning ship. It’s all about evolution.

Small businesses must constantly challenge themselves, evolving and pushing the envelope in the quest to stay relevant. 

When a strategy shift is needed, consider these tips:

  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the business.  Listing out these factors will help in determining which strategies stay and which are in need of a change.

  • Start the conversation and ignite innovation on all levels. Be wary not to alarm employees of a potential stall in business but encourage them to discuss the competition and the obstacles in order to foster a think tank.

  • Evaluate threats and competition by talking to customers and employees. 

  • Once identified, study the potential strategy shifts that would address the current threats. There will always be more than one route- consider all options and their ramifications.

Once you have reached this step it means a change is blowing in the wind. At this point it is time to map it out. Details are your ally at this step - how will this shift affect process, profits, costs, brand, team structure, and culture?

Decided on your move? Now put on your sales hat and get ready to sell that shift to your team. You need all hands on deck to implement strategy shifts.

Be sensitive to the effects of the change on your client base. Ensure that you include your long-term customers in the change process so they do not feel shocked by the new practices. 

A business plan of action that includes tasks, deadlines, communication and goals will assist along the bumpy road of shifting strategies.

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.