An effective business strategy does not simply define the goals of your firm.

Real strategic change comes from identifying the biggest challenges for your firm and then choosing to do something about them.

This may mean ignoring some of the other things you would like to do within your firm. It can be tough, especially if some members of your team are involved in things you are now choosing not to do.

But for your firm to survive in turbulent times, difficult decisions have to be made.

Good strategy is about focusing your resources on the most critical issues facing your firm. If you are not doing that, you don’t have a strategy.

Take Steve Jobs, for example…

In 1997, Apple were just weeks away from bankruptcy. Then Steve Jobs returned. Initially, his most significant challenge was simply to keep the business alive!

His approach was to cut 15 desktop models back to 1 model, cut all laptop models back to 1 model, cut all printers, cut development engineers and cut software development.

Jobs cut many more things, which reflected the reality of Apple having less than 4% of the personal computer market.

There was a clear challenge and a clear strategy – and it was right for Apple’s situation at that time.

With Apple’s survival secure, Jobs then clarified his long-term strategy:

“I am going to wait for the next big thing”

He knew enough about market trends to understand that technology comes in waves. This was a predatory response to the situation, like a lion stalking its prey, and he was prepared to lie in wait and pounce at just the right time.

He also knew that trends should be harnessed and embraced rather than ignored.

The rise of MP3 players, the iPod, iTunes and the iPhone transformed the world, and Apple went from a $3billion business to a $1trillion business.

Patience is a virtue, as they say!

As a business leader or manager, your most important responsibility is to monitor the latest market trends, identify the biggest challenges and devise a coherent approach to allow you to be perfectly positioned to benefit from these trends and to adapt to the challenges, just as Steve Jobs did.

Click the button below to fill out a strategic health questionnaire to help you work out the biggest challenges and trends affecting your firm now and in the future. Use this information to guide your strategic focus.