A new series of quick bullet-point tips on the tough questions that need to be asked. This month: strategy

Should we still be chasing that new market that seemed to promise so much?

Perseverance is often required to break into new areas, but you need to ask – are you actually flogging a dead horse? Make a critical but honest assessment each quarter about the prospects for each opportunity, and allocate the firm’s resource accordingly going forward.

Do we really understand how and why we won that new line of business?

You need to, and in great depth! Learn from your successes as well as failures. Was it the bid quality, the people, or something else? How can you repeat the process and enshrine it in the way you do business? A detailed analysis of “what we did right” can often be an invaluable exercise to undertake.

Are any small trends appearing that might become bigger opportunities?

Look out for those little business “acorns” that may become profitable oaks – why, for example, has that client suddenly become active again in a particular sector? Find out and gain a deeper understanding of that market, which can be used to your advantage.

Are any little disappointments evident that could become big headaches?

Don’t underestimate what may appear to be minor setbacks, such as losing some talent – find out why these events happened and if necessary make changes to your vision, strategy or culture, before the problem risks escalating.

Should we dig out some of those old ideas we binned a while ago?

It’s often worth a fresh look over old ideas, as there might be a nugget in there that wasn’t feasible before because of the climate or other external factor, but whose time may be about to come. There could be others that just need slight changes to become worthwhile trying again.


The Author
Neil Forrest, NRF Consulting. Neil Forrest provides strategy and funding advice to the legal sector and other business groups. tel: 0131 440 4118; email: nrf@neilforrest.co.uk
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