What Is a Strategic Business Unit

strategic business unit

A Strategic Business Unit (SBU) is a standalone entity within a larger organisation that operates with its own set of strategies and objectives. Typically, an SBU has its own management team, marketing plans, and product or service portfolio. The purpose of creating a separate unit is to allow the parent company to focus on specific areas of the business and allocate resources more efficiently.

An SBU is often used in companies that have diversified their product lines or services. By creating SBUs for each product line or service offering, it allows for greater focus on individual markets and customer segments. This approach can result in improved efficiency and better overall performance since each SBU has its own metrics for success.

Another benefit of using SBUs is that they can provide valuable information to senior management about the performance of various products or services. Since each SBU operates independently, it makes it easier to track data such as revenue growth, market share gains or losses, and profitability by product line. This information can be used to adjust strategies as needed to maximise overall company performance.

Definition: Key Characteristics

A strategic business unit (SBU) refers to a separate division or unit within an organisation that operates independently with its own strategy and objectives. SBUs are typically created by large corporations to diversify their operations and manage risk. They are often responsible for their own budget, resources, and performance metrics.

Key characteristics of an SBU include a clear focus on specific products, services or markets; autonomy in decision-making processes; accountability for profits and losses; and the ability to adapt quickly to changes in the marketplace. Additionally, SBUs tend to have their own management structures, including dedicated executives who oversee day-to-day operations.

Overall, successful SBUs embody several key characteristics that enable them to operate effectively as independent units within larger organisations. By ensuring alignment with overall corporate goals while also maintaining autonomy and flexibility, they can unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation.

Examples of SBUs

A strategic business unit (SBU) is a semi-autonomous division of a larger company that operates as an independent entity. The SBU has its own set of objectives, strategies, and resources that are distinct from those of the parent company. SBUs are typically created to enable large corporations to decentralise their operations and focus on specific product lines or target markets.

Examples of SBUs can be found in various industries such as consumer goods, technology, and healthcare. For instance, Unilever, a leading consumer goods company has several SBUs including Dove, Lipton Tea, and Knorr. Each SBU has its own marketing team and budget that is responsible for developing unique strategies tailored to meet the needs of their target market.

Another example is Google’s Alphabet which manages several SBUs including Google Search Engine itself but also other units like Google Fibre (internet service provider), Waymo (self-driving cars), Verily Life Sciences (healthcare research), among others. By separating these businesses into different entities with distinct leadership teams, Alphabet can allocate resources more efficiently while allowing each SBU to focus on its growth strategy independently.

In conclusion, creating strategic business units within a larger corporation provides many benefits such as increased flexibility in decision-making processes and cost management while still being part of a bigger organisation with shared services across all units for economies of scale.

Advantages of SBUs

A Strategic Business Unit (SBU) is a self-sufficient unit within an organisation with its own goals and objectives. SBUs are often created to monitor specific product lines or market segments, allowing companies to focus on their core competencies while maximising profits. There are several advantages to having SBUs in an organisation.

Firstly, SBUs create clear accountability and responsibility for specific products or services. This allows for better management of resources and helps identify potential opportunities for growth within the business. Secondly, SBUs can help streamline decision-making processes by separating different units into individual profit centres that operate independently from one another. This increases the flexibility of the company as a whole and enables it to respond more quickly to changing market demands.

Finally, having SBUs can lead to increased efficiency and cost savings through economies of scale. By centralising certain functions across different business units, such as marketing or human resources, companies can reduce duplication of efforts and cut down on unnecessary expenses. This not only helps improve profitability but also ensures that each SBU is operating at its maximum potential.

Overall, there are many benefits to implementing strategic business units within an organisation. They provide a framework for businesses to maximise profits while minimising risks associated with expansion into new markets or product lines by promoting accountability and responsibility among team members while also streamlining decision-making processes for faster responses when needed most in order achieve success over time!

Disadvantages of SBUs

One of the main disadvantages of SBUs is that they can become too focused on their own goals and objectives, which may not align with those of the larger organisation. This can result in a lack of coordination between units, leading to inefficiencies and missed opportunities for growth. Additionally, because SBUs are often given significant autonomy over their operations and decision-making processes, there is a risk that they may make decisions that are not in the best interests of the company as a whole.

Another potential disadvantage of SBUs is that they require significant resources to establish and maintain. Developing an SBU requires investment in research, development, marketing, and operational infrastructure. Moreover, each unit must have its own dedicated staff and management team. All these factors add up to create a potentially high cost structure for the organisation overall.

Finally, SBUs can sometimes lead to confusion or duplication in terms of products or services offered by different units within the same company. This can result in internal competition between units rather than collaboration towards shared goals. As such, careful planning is required to ensure that each SBU operates effectively within its assigned niche without encroaching on other areas or creating unnecessary redundancy within the organisation as a whole.

Implementing an SBU

A strategic business unit (SBU) is a self-contained division or unit within an organisation that has its own set of products, markets, competitors, and customers. Each SBU operates as a separate entity from the rest of the organisation and has its own unique strategy and goals. Implementing an SBU involves creating or restructuring a business unit to function independently while still contributing to the overall success of the organisation.

One key step in implementing an SBU is conducting market research to identify potential markets for the new unit’s products or services. This research should include analysing customer needs and preferences, identifying competitor strengths and weaknesses, and assessing overall market trends. Once this information is gathered, it can be used to develop a comprehensive marketing plan for the new SBU.

Another important aspect of implementing an SBU is establishing clear performance indicators to measure success. These may include financial goals such as revenue targets or profitability metrics, as well as non-financial measures like customer satisfaction ratings or employee engagement surveys. By setting clear objectives at the outset, organisations can better track progress toward achieving their goals over time and make adjustments as needed to ensure long-term success for their SBUs.


In conclusion, a strategic business unit is an autonomous division or organisation within a larger company that operates as a separate entity with its own budget and objectives. The purpose of implementing SBU’s is to focus on specific products, services or markets, allowing for more effective control and better decision making. By having separate units operating independently, companies can respond quickly to market changes and innovate at a much faster pace.

However, creating an SBU requires careful consideration and planning. Companies must ensure that the unit has clear objectives aligned with the overall corporate strategy. Additionally, there needs to be clear communication between the SBU and other departments within the company to avoid duplication of efforts or conflicting goals.

In today’s fast-paced business world, SBUs are becoming increasingly important for companies looking to stay competitive. By creating specialised units focused on specific product offerings or markets, companies can better meet customer needs while also improving their bottom line through increased efficiency and innovation.