A strategic profile gives your business an internal document to help you remain focused and on track as your business changes and grows over time.
As a small business owner, you probably know how hard it is to stand out in today’s cutthroat competition. Every small business owner is working against the clock to accomplish success and stand out from the huge crowd. But, only a small handful of businesses are able to achieve their goals and grow into successful and long-term businesses.
One of the most common problems that small businesses struggle with is having a clear vision and understanding of where their business is heading, and that’s where the strategic profile comes in.
How to Develop a Strategic Profile for Your Business
Developing a strategic profile for your business typically includes documenting your business goals, future products, driving forces, marketing strategy, critical issues, and competitive analysis.
In short, this profile provides an overview of your business and, more importantly, reminds you of the key purpose and underlying foundation of your business as it exists now, and as it should look moving into the future.
In fact, a strategic profile even helps you to analyse what your organisation should look like and what you can do to make it possible. Creating one for your business isn’t a complex task, but it’s often overlooked and it’s easy to underestimate the importance of such a document.
There are a few key components that need to be included, which we’ll unpack in more detail below.
Your vision statement makes up the first part of your strategic profile. It’s a declaration of your organisation’s overarching objective.
It doesn’t concern itself with business goals (such as “generate X amount of revenue in Y amount of time”), but rather, it should focus on the reason why your business exists.
Having a simple and straight-to-the-point vision statement will help your business keep on track and stop it from losing focus of the bigger picture. In short, a vision statement should:
- Give a clear focus on things that truly matter for your business. This will help to prevent you from wasting valuable time and resources on ventures that don’t fulfil the core purpose of your business.
- A well-written vision statement further helps you when it comes to making those hard decisions for your business. It gives you a grounding point to continuously aim towards.
- A vision statement makes sure that everyone can immediately recognise the why behind your business.
Your vision statement should remain fixed over time, and shouldn’t change at all.
This isn’t to say that your general business activities can’t change, but any change that is made should be done to serve that vision statement.
Remember, the vision statement doesn’t have to relate to business at all, it just needs to briefly summarise why your business exists in the first place.
Vision Statement Example
The Disney corporation is the perfect example of everything that a vision statement should be. It has been their core vision from the very start and hasn’t changed in decades. Their vision statement is “To Make People Happy“. This short-but-sweet line sums up the entire reason for their business to exist, and it’s the driving force behind every major business decision they make.
A mission statement is a declaration of what you do. It defines how your organisation will accomplish its goals. It should generally be found near the start of your strategic profile.
When you write a mission statement for your business, you need to define how you will get to where you would want to be. It provides the answer to common questions that customers have in this mind, such as “what do you do” or “what makes you different”.
Unlike your vision statement, your mission statement can be changed over time as your business changes and grows. Though, it should always stick to your core values, primary goals, customer requirements and vision.
Whereas your vision statement should be very short and to-the-point, your mission statement can be a few sentences long. It should include the following things:
- What do you do?
- For whom do you do it?
- Why do you do it?
Mission Statement Example
The mission statement of Canon Australia is “Canon Australia and New Zealand are market leading suppliers of consumer and business imaging solutions. We are a Canon Oceania team committed to our customers’ ongoing satisfaction through the empowerment and development of our staff. To be the preferred supplier we will be easy to deal with and provide quality, value for money products and services. To ensure success for all stakeholders we will delivery profitability, growth, job fulfilment and have a positive impact on the community.” This example covers the ‘what’, ‘for whom’ and ‘why’ behind the business.
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The core values of your strategic profile are a bit more straightforward than the previous two sections.
Essentially, they describe the values that support the vision, define the culture and represent what the organisation values.
They outline the core attitudes of the organisations’ identify – the beliefs, philosophy or principles of values.
Creating strong core values provides internal as well as external benefits for your business. It gives you and your team to remain something to be accountable to.
When defining your core values, think about the following:
- Core values educate your potential customers and clients about what your organisation is all about and what they may expect when interacting with your organisation.
- They give a minimum expected standard that your team members can seek to meet.
- Think about what the most important attitudes or personal traits are that you would desire of your team.
Core Values Examples
“Custodianship – We manage our resources responsibly and sustainably.“
“Integrity – We are honest, open and accountable.“
“Care – We respect, nurture and support one another.“
“Innovation – We are adaptable and creative.“
“Relationships – We are a family business, and value our relationships.”
The organisational culture is an important feature of your strategic profile. It describes the underlying beliefs, values, assumptions and ways of communicating that contribute to the unique environment of a business.
When outlining an organisational culture, you need to include your organisation’s expectations, philosophies, and experiences.
In short, organisational culture is an inherent part of your workplace. You need to define how things are performed in your business to accomplish the goals and tasks of your business.
Consider how different parts of your organisation are organised and the “sentiment” amongst those within your organization. For instance, think about the structure of your business, the attitude towards clients, suppliers, wholesalers, and technology.
Organisational Culture Examples
Westpac NZ has a number of key aspects touching on their organisational culture. Here are some (among others) that you can find on their website:
“Flexible Working: Flexibility is more than just good policies – it’s about flexibility in thinking, challenging assumptions, being innovative and acknowledging the needs of our employees while at the same time meeting business requirements. We are focused on flexibility in the workplace, to meet our customers’ banking needs 24/7 and to support our employees’ work life balance.“
“Inclusive Culture: An inclusive culture is about having a workplace where every individual can shine regardless of gender, cultural identity, age, ability, sexual orientation, work style or approach.“
“Sustainability and Community: We believe community involvement and sustainable business practices work together, and we’ve put them at the heart of our culture. At Westpac, we know that to be a great place to work we need to be a leader in diversity and flexibility. We take a strategic view to diversity and inclusiveness and are committed to making Westpac a great place to work for all our employees.“
Goals and Objectives
This section of the strategic profile is generally concerned with want you want to accomplish in your organisation. Generally, they are long-term and can demonstrate global visions if appropriate for your business.
Well-defined goals help you to grow your business, enhance collaboration and teamwork and help every member of your organisation to understand and work towards the prime goals of your business.
On the other hand, objectives define the techniques or strategies required to accomplish these goals. Objectives should be measurable and specific. They outline the “what, where, when, who and how” of accomplishing the goals for your business.
Here’s another way of looking at goals and objectives:
- Goals ask the question “what do we want to achieve by a specific time?“
- Whereas objectives ask the question “what steps do we need to do in order to achieve this goal?“
Goals and objectives should be set up using a SMART format, so that you can create realistic and specific expectations and timeframes to match. In brief, SMART goals/objectives are:
- Specific – be specific and exact about the target.
- Measurable – define how your progress will be measured.
- Attainable – is your goal actually attainable and realistic?
- Relevant – does achieving this goal move your business forward, is it relevant to your mission and vision?
- Timely – be sure to set realistic and relevant deadlines.
The business description generally consists of a brief overall description of your organisation.
When writing a business description for your strategic profile, you need to talk about the present outlook along with future possibilities relating to your business.
Start by thinking about how you would introduce your business to a complete stranger. This will serve as an introduction.
Then, expand on this and think about how you might paint a to-the-point “bigger picture” to a potential investor. Think about things like your current market, future markets you may move into down the line, overall market trends (supply & demand, etc), and social trends that may impact your business.
In a nutshell, the business description should include the following:
- What you offer – talk about the services or products you offer.
- Markets – describe the markets in which your business operates in, and any potential markets you might explore in the future.
- Key distinctions – talk about all the things that make your business special and different from your competitors.
- Anything else that is relevant to the overall positioning or strategy of your business.
Final thoughts: a strategic profile for your business will help you maintain focus and remind you of the why and how when times seem tough. It will improve your mindset, solidify your purpose and help you to remain focused on what’s important. We highly recommend taking the time to put a strategic profile together for your business!