While “strategy” is a word that promises a great deal but often remains elusive, it is also one of the most important success factors of a company. A thriving company maintains a clear focus. A strategy covers “what, how, to whom”. In the context of a strategy, concepts such as “quality, customer orientation, efficiency, best customer experience, and profitable growth” are sometimes mentioned. They are all good points but also truisms. A strategy determines how a company differentiates itself from its competitors. A strategy is a compass that shows the direction in which a company is headed.

A strategy is not a confidential paper prepared for use by the management team or the board, and it does not exist solely for the benefit of the entrepreneur or consultants or for the financiers of the company. A strategy must steer the way people spend their time, the type of competence that the company acquires, and where it makes it investments. A well-functioning strategy is a result of co-operation; it is not a dictate from above. People will also genuinely commit to what they have jointly thought through and done.

Companies of all sizes need a strategy. A strategic choice is also involved when a craftsman-entrepreneur is thinking about expanding their operation. Are you looking to having a point of sale in a neighbouring city, or are you in a process of establishing an online store, or are you planning to offer you products to nationwide chains, to be included in their range of products? Strategic reflection is worth the while, as it is a means of driving things forward. Alternatively, you can naturally go on as before; however, the results will also be the same as before.

An important part of management is an ability to pause. This is easy to ignore as the daily business entirely takes the entrepreneur’s or manager’s time. You must act and do something to ensure that your business thrives and that there is a steady cash flow! Pausing will surely be rewarding – and failing to do so will have an equally sure negative outcome. You should pause to think with somebody else every once in a while – for example, with people from Business Joensuu. Depending on your needs, we can offer sparring, coaching, experience, visions and tools. Sharing your thoughts is also useful when you are entertaining an idea of a new product concept, a sales partner or an acquisition. The more you share, the more you get.

Is your strategy up to date? Customers’ needs and behaviour will change and technologies will develop. Global mega trends may seem a long way away, but the change will take place – even in North Karelia. Automation will make headway, robots will replace human labour, artificial intelligence will be ubiquitous, the climate change will require action, fossil fuels will be a thing of the past, the population will age, people’s values will change, urbanization will gain momentum, and food will be viewed as a form of welfare services instead of being a nourishment.

When engaging in or updating strategic thinking, you should match your own company to the mega trends mentioned above. While living in a changing world, no one can plot a route to success, but you should be aware of your direction.

Harri Palviainen
CEO at Business Joensuu