SME Strategy Tips From Business Leaders

We spoke to experts from a range of well known companies to bring you this list… 💭

5 min read

Strategy Tips Book

They’re executing strategy day in, day out for large scale businesses across sectors, sizes and geographies – but what do these professionals say is their one good strategy tip? Let’s find out…

The Strategy Tips

Once you have set you goals and strategy, stay focussed, be brave and check back on each decision to see it meets your goals
Richard Yarwood, Former MD of Media Business Insight, UK

Be clear about your own core values. Define the red lines you will never cross in your actions. These will help form the criteria you’ll use to prioritise actions and define the strategy you put in place.
Dr Carlos Saba, Founder of Happy Start Up School, UK

Treat strategic planning as a tool for organizing and focusing growth, not as a drudgery required as a checklist item by either habit or the company’s board. Companies without a currently-relevant plan miss the boat and may find themselves losing to competitors they don’t even know exits, or their products aging without competitive renewal, or with cash flow problems that were never anticipated until too late. None of those outcomes seem to me to be worth ignoring the tool and process leading to an appropriate and effective strategic plan.
Dave Berkus, Investor, USA

Always work to a plan, with clear outcomes and objectives, and a business model that the team believe in and are inspired to deliver. However, don’t be rigidly beholden to the plan… be prepared to adapt and, if necessary, and be flexible.
Ben Allen, CEO of Mark Allen Group, UK

Understanding the needs of your customer and the market you operate in is vital when developing your company strategy. It’s only through interactions with real and potential users that you are able to build a full picture of the problems to be solved, and therefore where to focus your efforts.
Hannah Chaplin, Former CEO of Receptive, UK

Strategies can and should change. or ‘No plan survives first contact with the enemy’ – Be open minded about pivotting strategy if and when it becomes clear the strategy should change
David Griffith, Product Manager at Facebook, UK

Have a clear vision and communicate it. Use data but balance it out with gut feel.
Chris Adams, CTO of Madgex, USA

Form strategic partnerships. These days, this seems to be how SMEs do well, they work with organizations of similar size and organizational culture.
Melissa Pryszlak, Director of Logistics at Metro Inc, Canada

While I consider myself to be a strategic thinker and a believer in strategy, I really believe it comes down to having the right talent and the right culture to execute a strategy. You must have A players on your team that are willing to do whatever it takes to execute a strategy and you can’t be afraid to fail. Your culture needs to support risk taking and empower people to make decisions. Strategy without talent and the right culture to execute it is merely a dream.
David Leskusky, President of NAPCO Media, USA

Identify what you want out of the business other than the money. What vision do you have for the work you want to do and the impact you want to make?
Dr Carlos Saba, Founder of Happy Start Up School, UK

Keep focused on your core product/service, innovate and ensure your customer experience is the very best that can be achieved.
Jon Mallott, Commercial Director of GTI Group, UK

Enjoy yourself and stay focused on the things that really matter in life! Appreciate the journey.
Jonathan Potts, CEO of Bookwhen, UK

Using personas is a highly effective method to ensure your sales and marketing messaging is tailored to the right audience who will ultimately buy your product. They should be central to your strategy and culture so everyone is aligned and understand who your ideal customers are.
Al Digby, Business Development Director of Informer, UK

Pick a niche, listen to your customers, nail it and look to broaden from there. It’s better to build a strong reputation and brand loyalty in one area and grow from there.
Doug Monro, Founder of Adzuna, UK

If you don’t know what you are aiming for, how can you measure it, how can you manage it, how do you know what success looks like? Strategy and business planning are key for us in delivering success for our clients, measuring our achievements and showcasing our contribution to ensuring they achieve their organisational objectives.
Joanna Marsh, Publishing Director of Redactive, UK

Good strategy is nothing without flawless execution and execution is the hard bit. I can’t count the number of times I have heard colleagues say ‘we tried that but it didn’t work’. Was this because the strategy was wrong or because the execution was sub-optimal
David Griffith, Product Manager at Facebook, UK

Every business is different and to adapt you need to be flexible and not be beholden to the ‘business myths’ of a perfect formula to launch from with a rigid three year plan to follow. Far better that you face the fact that there will most likely be no inflection point, but if you put service first and have realistic microtargets in place, you have a good foundation for growth.
Jim Turner, CEO of Customer Thermometer, UK

Firstly to set a realistically ambitious business and financial plan with the Board. Secondly, I’d say to establish key non-financial measures to target areas of the business against and appraise them of the implications of not meeting these. Lastly, establish constructively close dialogue across the team and business – communication – in driving towards these goals.
Roger Castle, ex FD of Yahoo! Europe

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