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10 Steps to Building a Business Strategy for BIG Growth

10 Steps to Building a Business Strategy

It’s happening again.

In 2020, pandemic lockdowns and supply chain disruptions made many CEOs feel helpless and revealed many businesses to be rudderless.

Now, with inflation rising and an economic slowdown looming, struggling CEOs are once again throwing up their hands.

But at CEO Coaching International, our message to our coaching clients has remained consistent: Are you a CEO who lets things happen? Are you a CEO who asks, What just happened? Or are you a CEO who Makes BIG Happen, no matter what’s going on in the outside world?

If you’re ready to join that third group, you’ll find that, with a proper business strategy, sustained growth is always possible, even during a crisis. Use this 10-point plan that builds upon our proven business rhythms and best practices to take control of your company’s future.

1. Challenge core identity.

At least once every two years, put your company under the microscope. Review your ultimate vision for success. Question your mission statement, values, and culture, and kick anything that’s holding you back to the curb. Identify ways to improve your business strategy. Measure the distance between what your company is and what you want your company to be, and prepare to close that gap.

2. Develop an annual plan.

This is the number one differentiator between companies that stay small and companies that get BIG. Without a detailed annual plan that connects actionable, measurable short-term targets with a long-term business strategy, your company is at the mercy of external factors that you can’t control. In this business environment, you cannot afford to leave so much to chance.

3. Execute a 13-week march.

A well-designed annual plan will get your entire team excited about the work ahead. Maintain that enthusiasm and energy by zeroing in on two or three key targets for the next quarter. Break those targets down into weekly and daily tasks. Establish benchmarks and accountability. Go hit those bullseyes.

4. Stay on track.

At the end of every month, review your KPIs. If you’re hitting your targets or are ahead of schedule, figure out how to raise the bar by 10%. If you’re lagging, figure out the problem, iterate, and make a plan to catch up.

5. Hold yourself accountable.

We meet with our CEO coaching clients every other week to review what they said they were going to do, and what they actually did. Once everyone is on the same page about progress — or lack thereof — we establish the next milestones, explore potential pivot points, and identify new opportunities and potential impediments that could affect the overall business strategy.

6. Focus on the outcomes.

Now, hold your team leaders to the same level of accountability that you hold yourself to. Every week, huddle up to review progress towards quarterly goals. Maintain laser focus on the 2-3 top initiatives your teams are responsible for and eliminate any distractions that could be impeding your progress.

7. Increase productivity.

At high-performing companies, every single employee ends they day feeling like they’ve won. Even better, they want to keep stringing those wins together, one after another. Incentivize those wins. Provide consistent feedback. Make sure leaders have all the resources they need to execute. Coach up B players who have A-level potential. Replace anyone who’s happy to coast along.

8. Apply the four Make BIG Happen questions to take action.

These first seven steps establish a strong foundation for a business to start growing. But what happens when you face an unexpected challenge, like rising supply costs? What if you arrive at a fork-in-the-road moment where you can either stay the same or take a chance on reinvention?

That’s where our Make BIG Happen questions come in. Answering these questions is how good companies figure out how to stop settling for good and make the leap to great.

As an example, let’s apply the Make BIG Happen questions to annual goal-setting:

  • What do you want?
    Identify the goal you can achieve in the next twelve months that will form the backbone of your business strategy.
  • How do you get what you want?
    Set quarterly targets that will lead to the BIG target, and then break those down into monthly, weekly, and daily activities that you and your leadership team can track and measure.
  • What could stand in the way of you getting what you want?
    Is your supply chain sufficiently diversified? Is a nimble young competitor making inroads with your core client base? Are there legacy employees who might not be able to take this BIG leap with you?
  • How do you hold yourself accountable?
    Put a BIG scoreboard in the office where everyone can see the company’s progress. Celebrate wins, correct missteps, and never forget that what those numbers are really measuring is the quality of your vision and leadership.

9. Leverage the proven Make BIG Happen Tools to accelerate your success.

When you just have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The multitude of challenges facing your business right now requires a more varied and specialized tool kit.

For example, we encourage our CEO coaching clients to clarify their business strategy ahead of annual planning with our Crystal Ball Tool. By imagining the BIG victory your company will be celebrating in a year’s time, it’s easier to work backwards and see the stepping stones that will lead you there.

Another powerful visioning tools is the Organization of the Future. Instead of focusing on seats you need to fill right now, forward-thinking CEOs can identify the kind of talent they’re going to need as their company continues to grow.

And during both crisis points and growth opportunities, many of our CEO coaching clients have leveraged the Cash Bridge Tool to help them analyze and adjust the variables that are impacting cash flow.

10. Use a coach to guide you through this process in an unbiased way.

The reason that our system is effective in helping CEOs build a winning business strategy is how each individual step builds towards and reinforces the next.

But that doesn’t mean the system is foolproof.

Even the best CEOs are still human, susceptible to blind spots, biases, extreme optimism, self-doubt, and paralyzing fear. Any one of these traits could lead to an annual plan that sets unrealistic expectations, a social media snafu that turns off core customers, or a bad hire that poisons the company culture.

Working with a CEO coach is what pulls this process together. Whether they’re facilitating your planning session or holding your feet to the fire when numbers are lagging, a coach who’s been there and done that has the experience and the outside perspective you need to stick to the system, maintain momentum and keep Making BIG Happen.

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 53.5% during their time as a client, more than three times the U.S. average, and a revenue CAGR of 26.2%, nearly twice the U.S. average.

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