Focus on your purpose in a changing market

Published: Friday 28 August 2020

The dramatic changes in trading conditions experienced by businesses in 2020 have, in many cases, been a catalyst for rapid diversification. As firms continue to adapt and plan for recovery, we ask ‘is it still clear what makes you distinct in your markets’?

Agility is an important trait for remaining on your feet during extreme periods of turbulence. It has been evident in the swift reallocation of people, skills, tools and resources during the past few months. By those responding to the demands of new markets, such as the national need for PPE, or new routes to market, exemplified by restaurants becoming takeaways and countless businesses moving online.

While agility remains valuable, a clear business strategy is, nevertheless, essential. Owners, funders, customers and staff all need to have confidence that there is a clear strategic direction. So, as we encourage leadership teams to review their business plans incorporating new and existing markets, it is also important not to lose sight of what makes you distinct.

Your business plan should be an indispensable tool that you refer to frequently. It holds the measurable goals for success and the strategy by which you are going to achieve those goals. Financial projections feature prominently in most business plans. There is another important dimension to a robust plan, however, which tends to be given less attention; a clear sense of purpose, mission and vision.

The terminology of purpose, mission and vision can feel confusing, with many variable definitions used by organisations. In simple terms, it is about addressing the ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘what’ of your business strategy. By asking your fellow directors a few key questions, you can begin to guide the process of clarifying the ‘why’ (your sense of purpose), ‘how’ (a mission that is meeting the needs of others) and ‘what’ (the quantifiable milestones for success in achieving your vision).

When exploring your purpose, consider:

  • Why does your organisation exist?
  • What is the overall belief for the future that drives you?
  • What is the long-term effect you want to have in the world; relating to your customers, communities and the environment?

Your purpose may feel so big it seems unobtainable, but this steers every decision.

More than ever, when organisations have experienced so much change, a clear sense of purpose can help to orientate the decisions you make for the future. Without it, there is a risk that rapid and significant change feels like chaos; it may seem disorientating for all of your stakeholders just at a time when you need to build confidence.

After all, when you think about what makes you distinct from your competitors it is unlikely to be simply the products or services you sell. Ask your customers and they will probably mention the way that you work, how they relate to your people and the reputation you have in the market.

In short, developing a strong recovery strategy requires rigorous attention to detail in business planning, cost control, cash flow and sales pipelines. It also merits careful attention to some of the wider aspects of business strategy; a clear and consistent purpose; and an understanding among your colleagues and customers about what makes you distinct in today’s fast-changing marketplace.

For more information on developing and maintaining a clear business strategy contact Scott Lawrence at or 01242 680000.

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Scott Lawrence
Scott Lawrence
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