Strategy Consultant

How I Can Help You Succeed As Your Business Strategy Consultant & Coach

If your business isn’t as performing as well as you’d like and you’ve decided that it is time to review your business strategy then I’d like to explain how I can help as your strategy consultant or coach.

I’ve done this in a Q&A format which means there is a lot of focus on me rather than you.

You may prefer to go to pages I’ve written for business start-ups, young businesses and established businesses which explain how I can help in particular situations.

My Aim Is To Help You Decide If I Am The Right Strategy Consultant & Business Coach For You

I have the great fortune that I am a “one man business” and therefore I can’t work with many clients at any one time, even if there are many businesses who want to review and update their competitive strategies.

My services are right for some business owners and managers who appreciate a high level of personal attention, care and service combined with a practical approach and in-depth knowledge of strategy.

My services are not right for others and in this section I’ve tried to give you the information needed to decide if they are right for you, or at least right enough for you to try a free telephone consultation.

If I have answered a key question (and you’re based in the UK), then please email me at paul@plancs.co.uk

The Q&A’s are below.

Why Does A Business Need To Focus On Its Strategy?

There are four common reasons why it’s important to do a formal review of your business strategy:

  1. Your business isn’t performing as well as you’d like – why try to work harder if the basic strategy isn’t working?
    ..
  2. Competitors are causing trouble to your business by bringing out better or more advanced products and services or by slashing market prices.
    ..
  3. Customer needs and wants are changing or you think they will change in the near future and you’re not sure how you should react.
    ..
  4. There are changes to the wider external environment that impact on your business and either create a new opportunity you want to take advantage of or create a threat to your existing business.

What Can A Strategy Consultant Do For Me?

As your strategy consultant and business coach, it is my job to guide you through the strategy process, helping you to focus on the important issues, stopping you from getting bogged down in unnecessary detail and helping you to move forward if you get stuck.

I’d love to be able to tell you that developing a winning strategy is a linear process where you do step 1, then step 2 and 3…

It isn’t, even if others pretend that it is.

Strategy is about getting insight into how you can create competitive advantage over your competitors so that you can achieve your business goals. Big insights about what you want, customers, competitors and the external environment can all force you to go back and reassess what you’ve already done. It’s a discovery process and you don’t know what you’ll find until you find it.

The gains from implementing a well considered strategy which creates competitive advantage are big. If it was easy, every one would be doing it and the potential gains would be much less.

Who Is A Suitable Strategy Consultancy & Coaching Client For You?

I work with entrepreneurs, business owners and small management teams to develop and strengthen the competitive advantages which help you to achieve superior performance.

I’m not interested in talking about strategy with little or nothing to show at the end. I want you to be committed to making changes in your business, which based on our work together, we believe will make your business more competitive and get better results.

I don’t work with corporates any more. I grew tired of the politics and the multiple reasons for not taking action which is why I focus on independently owned SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises) or SMB’s (small and medium businesses) in the UK.

I’m happy to work with clients in the manufacturing, distribution, retail and service sectors. Not the public sector, charities or organisations like housing associations. I think in terms of increasing profit – it’s in my blood and other objectives, although very worthy, don’t fit my profit mindset.

I help:

How Do You Define SME’s & SMB’s?

Small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) is UK government-speak for small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s).

The Companies Act provides defines based on turnover, balance sheet values and employee numbers.

I find employee numbers the best guide for business size and officially they are:

Small business – up to 50 employees

Medium business – up to 250 employees

The scope of the strategy consultancy work needed is going to be partly influenced by the size of the business relative to the size of the market or niche within the market, since the bigger the market share you need, the more you will be affected by the wider environmental issues that affect the entire market.

I work with one person businesses upwards. The bigger the business, the more I need to believe there is entrepreneurial flair within the business to get things done.

The smaller the business, the more we both need to believe that the profit opportunities available to the business can justify the investment in my fees but we’ll look carefully at that in the initial assessment meeting.

What Is Your Strategy Consultancy Style & Approach?

My style is fairly blunt and I prefer substance over style.

My clients tell me that working with me is interesting and fun.

If I think something needs to be said because it’s in your interests, then I’ll say it. To do otherwise would be a huge disservice but however carefully I choose my words, it may not be something you want to hear and it may even end our relationship but at least I can sleep at night knowing I’ve done my best for you.

My interest as a strategy consultant is very much competitive strategy and in particular competing with a differentiation strategy and a business model designed to deliver the key success factors and key differentiation factors consistently and cost effectively. I’m much less interested in corporate strategy (how you can get different business units to work together better) or the soft, fuzzy stuff like culture change.

My main intervention technique is through strategy coaching which is done by telephone/Skype with the business owner or members of the senior management team and can be delivered to clients throughout the UK. Take a look at my Differentiation Process.

While I will control the strategy process, you’re the experts in your market and industry. The decisions are yours to make. I’ll share my opinions and advice but our work together is about helping you to find a way to achieve your goals.

What’s The Difference Between A Business Strategy Consultant & A Business Strategy Coach?

Professionals can get real hang-ups about titles like business strategy coach or strategy consultant when what really matters is the results that the clients achieve from working with a professional.

A consultant is often considered to be an expert whose main task is to advise while a coach helps you to find the answers yourself.

A consultant does (e.g. writes a research report) while a coach works through you, motivating you to take actions.

A consultant applies his or her expert knowledge to a problem with little knowledge transfer to you, a coach helps you to learn how to do it yourself.

To help explain the difference, let’s briefly move from strategy to marketing.

A marketing consultant will write a marketing campaign for you and even manage all the activities. A marketing coach will help you to learn how to create an effective marketing campaign by working with you through an example so you do your own campaigns in future.

Returning back to strategy, I think the distinction between a strategy consultant and a strategy coach is much less clear.

Because strategy is everything you do in your business and it sets all the guiding policies, strategy isn’t something you can delegate or outsource in its entirety. Working with a strategy coach or strategy consultant is inevitably a collaboration so there is significant overlap.

You and your managers have the detailed knowledge of your business, your customers and competitors. A strategy coach will help you to organise and analyse that knowledge so you can find insights. A strategy consultant may do the same or may also add external research into customers and competitors.

I try to be very flexible and give you the support you need. My focus is on helping you to achieve your goals.

What’s The Difference Between A Strategy Coach & A Business Coach

If you’ve read my free report, The Profit Tipping Point, you’ll know that there are five main pathways to profitability:

  1. The underlying attractiveness of your market
    .
  2. The rivalry of competitors
    .
  3. Your competitive advantages relative to the competition
    .
  4. Your management, planning & control skills and abilities including sales, marketing, finance and operations
    .
  5. Your inner game including motivation, priorities, commitment and time management

A strategy coach will focus on the first three, a general business coach will usually be much more tactical and concentrate on changesĀ  to pathways 4 and 5.

I believe having a strategy to differentiate your business makes a positive impact on all five profit pathways.

strategy consultant

What Do You Think About Strategy Workshops?

Many strategy consultants runĀ  one day strategy workshops but I’m not a big fan of them because I think business strategy is much too important to be crammed into a day where the thinking can be too superficial.

Effective strategy needs time for ideas and insights to develop, for research to be done and for carefully considered decisions that the business can commit to achieving.

I don’t believe that anyone wants to rush into a big change that will have a major impact on the way the business competes when it is implemented.

Strategy workshops can be useful to start the strategy process and to create enthusiasm and excitement for changing your business strategy.

If you’d like to work with me in a strategy workshop environment, then I recommend a series of half day workshops but they are only available if you are based in the Midlands or if you’re prepared to travel to Birmingham.

Do You Provide Ongoing Strategic Support & Mentoring?

If you choose me as your strategy consultant and business coach and you want ongoing strategic support and you’re willing to pay for it, then you’ve got it.

I believe that strategy isn’t the plan, it’s the plan and implementation which go hand-in-hand.

Again if you’re in the Birmingham area, we can have monthly meetings otherwise it is by telephone.

I used to be opposed to any consulting or coaching help that wasn’t based around a physical meeting but I was wrong. My clients and I have found that telephone coaching and consulting works very well.

How Much Do You Charge For Strategy Consulting & Coaching?

It depends on your business, the situation, who will be taking part in our work together and how much you need to do.

Most professional advisers like to pretend that fees and time taken are independent but ultimately we have to accept that as consultants and coaches, we are selling time and knowledge.

Have You Written Any Books On Strategy Or Differentiation That Explain Your Approach?

Not yet although I am thinking about it. I’m a prolific blogger as you’ll see from this Differentiate Your Business blog and a bigger, more general Business Coaching blog which covers many management topics with a bias towards strategy and marketing.

If you want to read a strategy book to give you some background, then the three best books on strategy in my opinion are

Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter

Competitive Advantage by Michael Porter

Competitive & Corporate Strategy by Cliff Bowman & David Faulkner

All are fairly heavy texts written for the Business School market and for strategy specialists.

The book I recommend for small business owners who want an overview of strategy is actually about about turning around distressed businesses.

Turning A Business Around by Mark Blayney

It gives you an insight into the problems of what can happen if you don’t pay attention to business strategy but also shows you the path forward. A turnaround is often a strategic change project where time and money are in short supply and the focus is first on cutting back to the core business and building that back up.

How Can I Find Out More About You & Your Business Strategy Services?

You can find out more about me and why I should be your strategy consultant on my About Me page.

I’ve also prepared special pages on my website that (hopefully) focus on your particular situation. these pages include offers of information and a free consultation provided you’re based in the UK.

Established Business (more than 12 months old)

Young Business (less than 12 months old)

Business Start Up (thinking about starting or just started)

Alternatively email me at paul@plancs.co.uk if I have not missed one of your big questions or give me a call on 0121 554 4057 and we can talk about your particular situation and why you are considering hiring a strategy consultant to help you to focus on and improve your business strategy.