Why Strategic Direction is Important When Scaling up

Strategic direction is important for any business, but it’s particularly important when scaling up your business. A Scale-up business has ambitions of growing quickly with a significant upwards trajectory, which isn’t something to rush.

The successful execution of a strategy requires clear and concise goals, as well as a plan to achieve them. Without a strategic direction, a business can quickly lose focus and become scattered and confused.

Create a strategic direction

When a business is scaling up, it’s often expanding into new markets or introducing new products or services. In order to be successful, it’s important to focus on specific goals that will help the business grow.

A businesses’ strategic direction is how it plans to grow and scale up as a whole. This means different teams in the business working on their own objectives. This is why it’s important to have a defined strategic direction.

When there’s direction, there’s focus.

If your objectives are aligned, they’ll support each other and provide a larger amount of growth faster. If you just have a set of ideas with no real connection, they’ll provide something but with no guarantees of effectiveness.

Remember to be realistic about the resources you have to hand and the time you think your direction will take. If you need to set up a whole new team, you will need to give yourself a longer timeline than you would for hiring a single new person.

If your aim is to increase market share, what options are available to you? Improving marketing or diversifying into new products or services can synergise well together. Meanwhile, diversifying into a whole new market will confuse the efforts within your current market and draw attention away from where it’s needed. 

Why clear goals are essential

Clear goals are essential when scaling up a business because they help you stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve. Without clear goals, it’s more difficult to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources and how to prioritise tasks. This can lead to wasted time and effort, stalling your business’s progress.

For example, if a business decides it wants to increase its market share, then increasing sales or attracting more customer groups from within the market are options they could use. A clear goal goes beyond just knowing what the options are to picking one and committing to it.

Your business’s goals are the framework to build the roadmap for the business to follow. They help ensure that everyone is working towards the same ends, helping to increase efficiency and productivity. They can also be inspiring and motivating to employees, which can also help produce better results from their work.

Develop achievable objectives

When a business is scaling up, it needs achievable objectives describing what should be done in order to grow. If your goals are where you want your business to go, the objectives are what will get you there. These objectives should be actionable if you want them to provide effective strategic direction.

Actionable means that the objective is specific, measurable and realistic.

  • Specific – focuses on a single area to improve. All tasks should help to achieve the attainment of a certain goal.
  • Measurable – use hard business numbers. At the end, there should be an objective answer to the question: has the target been met?
  • Realistic – the objective should be manageable with the resources available to the business. It should also be completable in the time frame you have allotted. 

For example, a small business might want to increase its number of customers by 20% in the next year. This is specific to the number of customers, measurable as a comparison of figures, and realistic because this kind of increase is manageable enough in a year.

This objective aids your business’s growth by increasing the number of people who make sales and grow your pool of return customers. More sales means more revenue, while customer retention is important as a new customer is as much as 25x more expensive, as one who’s bought from you before.

Remember to make sure these objectives are aligned with each other to form an overall strategy. Businesses usually have a good number of objectives to achieve when scaling up, and part of them being actionable is making sure they all work together. Some objectives need some support from other areas to work properly.

When a business is scaling up, it is often expanding into new markets or introducing new products or services. In order to be successful, it is important to focus on specific goals that will help the company grow.

Planning your strategic direction

It can be useful to make use of a strategic toolkit when planning. Tools used as part of a larger process help keep your objectives aligned. They can also be useful in figuring out what direction you even want to take.

If you think your business would benefit from support, a Part-time Strategy Director can bring their expertise to the table and help your business find and deliver on its strategic direction.

Contact your Regional Director of Boardroom Advisors

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran six of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.