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FT Essential Guide to Developing a Business Strategy

FT Essential Guide to Developing a Business Strategy

How to Use Strategic Planning to Start Up or Grow Your Business

Vaughan Evans

Oct 2013, Paperback, 264 pages
ISBN13: 9781292002613
ISBN10: 1292002611
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Want to take your company to the next level? You need a roadmap, a strategy. Preferably one that is simple, workable and saleable. This book provides you with just that. It sets out a straightforward strategy development process, the ‘Strategy Pyramid’, and guides you through it. It uses a lively central case study throughout, as well as drawing on examples of how real businesses have developed winning strategies. Whether you are intent on growing your business, or setting out on your start-up, this book offers an uncomplicated, practical and readable guide on how to get the strategy you need for your business to succeed.

It offers sound advice on the following areas:

  • Setting goals and objectives
  • Forecasting market demands
  • Gauging industry competition
  • Tracking competitive advantage
  • Targeting the strategic gap
  • Bridging the gap with business strategy
  • Bridging the gap with corporate strategy
  • Addressing risk and opportunity

The FT Essential Guide to Developing a Business Strategy will help businesses of all sizes to chart and realise their growth ambitions.


Why strategy?

What is strategy?

What is the output?

What is the outcome?

What is a strategic plan?

What is strategic planning?

The Strategy Pyramid

Business vs corporate strategy

Part One: Strategy Development

1. Knowing Your Business

Identifying key segments

Essential example: Apple’s saviour segments

Segmentation in a start-up

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd - the business

2. Setting Goals and Objectives

Setting long-term goals

Essential example: Life at Mars

Setting SMART objectives

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd – goals and objectives

3. Forecasting Market Demand

Sizing the market

Forecasting market demand

Essential tool: Moving averages

Essential example: No wrap for the cinema

Forecasting demand for a start-up

Market demand risks and opportunities

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd – market demand

4. Gauging Industry Competition

Assessing competitive intensity

Assigning customer purchasing criteria

Deriving key success factors

Essential tool: Economies of scale

Essential example: Jessops is shuttered

Gauging competition in a start-up

Industry competition risks and opportunities

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd – industry competition

5. Tracking Competitive Advantage

Rating competitive position

Essential tool: Product/market risk

Reviewing resources and capabilities

Essential tool: The value chain

Essential example: The everlasting Monsoon

Creating competitive advantage in a start-up

Essential example: Of diet, dance and detectives

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd – competitive advantage

6. Targeting the Strategic Gap

Targeting the portfolio gap

Targeting the capability gap

Profiling the ideal player

Specifying the target gap

Essential example: Could Liverpool FC be champions again?

Targeting the gap in a start-up

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd – strategic gap

7. Bridging the Gap: Business Strategy

Opting for a generic strategy

Essential tool: The experience curve

Strategic repositioning and shaping profit growth options

Essential tool: Uncontested market space

Making the strategic investment decision

Essential example: Sainsbury’s fights back

Bridging the gap for a start-up

Business strategic risks and opportunities

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd – business strategy

8. Bridging the Gap: Corporate Strategy

Optimising the corporate portfolio

Essential tool: The growth/share matrix

Creating value from mergers, acquisitions and alliances

Essential tool: Parenting value

Building strategically valuable resources

Essential tool: Core competences

Essential example: UU U-turn

Corporate strategic risks and opportunities

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd – corporate strategy

9. Addressing Risk and Opportunity

Reviewing plan in a market context

Appraising opportunity versus risk

Essential tool: Expected value and sensitivity analysis

Essential example: Britney does it again

Essential case study: Extramural Ltd – risk and opportunity

Part Two: Strategic Planning

10. The Strategic Plan

Strategy + Business Plan = Strategic Plan

Contents of a strategic plan

Reviewing the plan

11. The Strategic Planning Process

Strategic planning in a multi-business corporation

Essential tool: Deliberate vs emergent strategy

Strategic planning in a small or medium-sized enterprise

Strategic planning for a start-up



Structured interviewing

Further Reading



Vaughan Evans is an independent strategy consultant ( with a background in industry economics. He worked at management and technology consultants Arthur D. Little and at investment bank Bankers Trust. Vaughan graduated from Cambridge and has a Sloan Fellowship with distinction from London Business School. He is the author of four previous books, including the best-selling Financial Times Essential Guide to Writing a Business Plan.

‘This is the most succinct and most practical handbook on business strategy on the market. In just a couple of hundred well-written pages, it synthesizes the most important ideas in the field. What sets it apart – and brings it to life – is that every concept that is introduced is immediately illustrated in practice through the use of a real-life case study.’

Jules Goddard, Fellow, London Business School and author, with Professor Tony Eccles, of Uncommon Sense, Common Nonsense: Why Some Organisations Consistently Outperform Others

‘A concise and highly practical guide to the fundamentals of strategic analysis and strategic planning.’

Robert M. Grant, ENI Professor of Strategic Management, Bocconi University, Milan, Visiting Fellow at Georgetown University, Washington, and author of Contemporay Strategic Analysis, now in its eighth edition

‘This is the ideal companion to Evans’s The Financial Times Essential Guide to Writing a Business Plan. A plan worthy of investment is only as sound as its underpinning strategy. This terrific little book shows the manager just what he or she needs to do to build that strategy. Where has this book been for the last fifty years?’

Jonathan Derry-Evans, Partner, Manfield Capital Partners

‘It will be an enormous help to busy managers who are developing a business strategy for the first time, or trying to improve on previous attempts. This is another Evans book to be kept to hand on the desktop, not to be shelved!’

Grahame Hughes, Founding Director, Haven Power Ltd

‘If you are a small business or start up, this is an excellent guide to help you get your strategy right. Business strategy is all too often discussed in the context of big business. Vaughan Evans, on the other hand, makes it relevant to SMEs, demonstrating not only why but

how to develop the right strategy to succeed.’

Anthony Karibian, CEO, bOnline Ltd. and serial entrepreneur

‘This is a really good and practical guide – clear, insightful, straightforward and practical. It is a must-have guide for anyone setting out to build or grow a business. If strategy can be likened to charting a wise and successful course though challenging waters, then Evans proves

once again that he is a master mariner.’

James Courtenay, Global Head, Advisory and Infrastructure Finance, Standard Chartered Bank

‘Vaughan Evans is doing himself and his ilk out of the day job. With this easy-to-follow manual on how to develop a winning strategy, managers and investors won’t need to engage pricey strategy consultants any more. Thanks!’

Ken Lawrence, Partner, Gresham Private Equity

‘A seminal business strategy manual, as invaluable to the entrepreneur, manager or business advisor as to the student of strategic planning.’

James Pitt, Partner, Lexington Advisors UK Limited