One good way to start looking at your business strategy is to think about your true business identity. With some notable exceptions (franchises) It’s as unique as your fingerprints are.
This is what makes your business different from all others. What you want, what you do well, how you do things, what makes you unique. What you want to do with your core strategy is establish that identity for yourself, your team, and out there in the market, for your customers.
In many ways it’s about looking in the mirror:
You have to understand what you do and who you are if you are going to be able to set your business apart from its competition. The exercise is something like looking at a mirror. Gather your team together, if you have a team ready, because this makes for a good discussion. Ask some of these questions:
What do we like to do? How are we different? What is there about us that sets us apart? What excites us? What are we good at?What do we do that other people (or companies) want to have done? What do we like to do that people want to pay for? What do we like to do that we do better or differently from others who do it? What value can we add? What’s missing? How can we do something better than what’s now available? What can we see about the future that others can’t see? Where can we give value that isn’t there right now?
And another good thought generator is core competence:
Take a step away from the business, and get a new fresh look at it. What things do you do best? Let’s consider a few companies most people know: We might reasonably think a core competency of Apple Computer is design, a core competency of Nordstrom is customer service, and a core competency of Volvo is vehicle safety. You have to recognize what you’re good at. It can’t be everything. You aren’t credible if you try to do everything right. Don’t pretend you can be the best at service and have the lowest prices and the highest quality products; that isn’t credible and it will just get in the way. Don’t think that core competency depend on the industry, or that they are the same for all players in any given industry. Look at the difference between economy cars, reliability cars, safety cars, and performance cars, for example.
Put these together and you have one fundamental element of strategy, called identity.