Strategy and the Entrepreneur
When you hear the word strategy do you think, “Who has time for that? I’m too busy running my business to think about my business!”
Or, are you the entrepreneur who states, “Strategy is worthless. All it does is add time and cost to my business.”
You might even be the entrepreneur who longingly dreams, “I know a strategic plan would help me, but I don’t know how to pick a strategy that is right for me.”
Or, the entrepreneur who laughs and says, “Strategy is a big business necessity because there are so many people involved in running the business. I’m a one man show, I don’t need a strategy to know what to do.”
And, you know what? You’re right with whatever you think. If you think strategy is for big business only, you’re right. If strategy is worthless, you’re right. If you know strategy would help your business, you’re right. And, if strategy is a pipe dream because you’re too busy working in your business, instead of on your business, you’re right again.
Thinking strategically about your business may not seem like a crucial key to success, but it is. And, I’m not just saying this because I’m a strategist. I’m saying it because it’s true. In the business world strategy helps you connect your activities to your goals. Strategy forces you to plan. And, if you don’t think you need to plan, try taking a long distance trip without one!
You may not even be thinking about strategy because you’re too busy going from tactic to tactic trying to make something work for you. Strategy helps you figure out what’s working, and what’s not working. Strategy helps you identify gaps and challenges. Strategy gets you out of your day-to-day thinking and gets you thinking about what ifs. Remember, when you first started your business, you probably thought about a bigger vision. Strategy gets you back to those thoughts.
Strategy is not designed to waste your time, money, or resources. It’s sole purpose is to help you determine a course of action for your business so you can align activities to goals, and maximize time, money and effort. Working a strategic plan of action gives you permission to “check the program” and decide whether a course of action makes sense, or not. It allows you to see your activities as steps towards a greater end. Using a strategy means you are weaving your activities together so at the end of the month, your focused effort translates to success.
Every business owner has many strategies they can employ to build their business, but focusing on one or two will give you clarity of purpose, and help you stay focused on the bigger picture. Most entrepreneurs love what they do, but every entrepreneur has tasks they must do to run their business successfully that aren’t a lot of fun. When you stay focused on the bigger picture you realize these tasks are a part of the process. The goal in this case is not the journey, but the destination.
So how does the “Chief cook and bottle washer” of your business (you) add yet another “task” to the running of your business? Like everything else important to the success of your business you carve out time. The good news is that a little planning goes a long way, and strategy planning can be done in as little as two hours a month. Below are steps that will get you thinking strategically about your business.
1. Schedule a day and time for your strategy session. Make sure you have at least sixty minutes of uninterrupted time.
2. Assess where you are now by knowing your current:
- Gross sales
- Number of customers served
- Average sale per customer
- Type of customer (new vs. repeat)
- Investment in marketing activity
- Three good things that happened in your business recently
- One or two things that you would change, if you did them again
3. Review and reflect. Look at the information before you. Imagine you’re telling it to someone who supports your success. How would they respond?
4. Identify potential strategies you can employ to align your actions to your goals. Select one specific strategy and outline a plan of action to achieve that goal. Do you see gaps? Do you know how to get those gaps addressed so nothing stands in your way?
5. Commit. To your goal. To your strategy. To your plan.
6. Take action. Be prepared for hiccups. Be prepared for your sabotage patterns to show up. Be confident in your ability to address them.
7. Schedule your next strategy session.
So, now when you hear the question, “Which entrepreneur are you?” You’ll answer, “One that uses strategy, because it works.”
To your SWEET success!