Strategy is Everything...
by TonyaWilson, Former Guest Blogger
- Created: April 19, 2010, 11:30 am
- Updated: March 2, 2012, 7:33 pm
In recent months as w;ve met with current and potential small business owners we have been directing them to shift their thinking, in regards to their business planning, to a deeper, more deliberate, more strategic level. The larger a business is the less effective budget-oriented and forecast-based planning will become. These two planning types have a focus forward on items such as anticipated consumer demand on current or for new products. This needs to be taken into consideration but in order to stay in business and function successfully broader consideration has to be made.
Books in the black can keep you afloat, but the goal should be to get and keep your business sailing through calm and rough waters, safely and successfully. To achieve that goal you will need to consider and plan for the totality of your business. Your vision, mission, internal and external environmental analysis, strategy, strategy implementation, and its evaluation will all determine how successfully your business will be able to compete in your industry. To get you started thinking about your business strategy; consider these thoughts from Michael Bowers of the Ohio SBDC at Columbus State Community College* and author of Ideas to Deals*:
'Focus' Starts before You Get to Work
One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face in building a business is 'Focus'. What makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur contributes to this issue. You probably got into business to pursue a passion, not to make to-do-lists. Your ability to see the big picture and move from task to task is what you do. This may be what has brought you to where you are today. It may also hold your company back. You may consider yourself to be great at multitasking, but typically multitasking only addresses the urgent - not important strategic needs. Here are a few things you can do to restore order and get you on track to the success you desire.
Do some planning: One of my favorite quotes I use when talking with business owners is from Dwight Eisenhower: 'In preparing for battle I have always found plans to be useless, but planning is indispensable'. Too many people don't want to get into developing plans for their business because they are so used to the typical bank format or having to do a SWOT analysis. The thought of sitting down to do this is probably what drove many out of the corporate scene and into their own business. However, putting thought into what you are doing and where you are going is critical. Without this you may still grow, but I guarantee that you will not grow as fast as you could. Also, if you don't look forward you may be blindsided by economic issues like those that have been experienced over the past couple of years. What I recommend is not to lock yourself and your team away for a 3-day retreat, but rather have mini-sessions to address various issues. Create small groups to research the topic and lead the meeting. Have an open discussion on what they found. Take notes and develop working steps that can be done within the structure of everyday activities. This will keep the process moving, workable and not overwhelming.
Monitor: This may not be your thing either, but as the business owner you need to establish a structure that allows you to monitor performance of the business over a variety of metrics. To do this, develop and implement systems that work best for you. Develop feedback mechanisms and controls that will allow you to really know and impact what is going on. By customizing this system to your style you will be able to do it.
Take strategic action: If you have spent time planning and monitoring you have the base to take strategic action. Make sure you identify the things that will move the organization forward and work these. Don't get bogged down on the daily minutiae of running a business. Get the trivial stuff out of the way quickly and focus on the future. Only by being strategic in your actions will you be able to really drive performance in line with your customer- needs (and changing needs). Don't bounce around, do what will make a difference.
All of this can lead to increased focus on what is important to building your business. It takes effort and may not be the fun, product-oriented stuff that you love, but it will make your life as a business owner easier. Don't be afraid to break out of old habits. Start small and build your capacity in these strategic areas. If you set up 'your' systems, you will be able to maintain them and not quit.
Now that yo-re done reading and have acquired a good baseline of knowledge on developing your strategic plan, start using that information by developing your business plan. Tim Berry will be happy to assist in your plan development so check out his post on business planning tutorials. And if you need more assistance there is plenty of organizations right in your own backyard ready and willing to help. For a head start on locating a few, check out my earlier blog post on Continuous Improvement.
You can also find Tonya on twitter at @TonyaWilson
* This hyperlink goes to a non-government website
About the AuthorAs a member of the Ohio SBDC at Columbus State, we provide entrepreneurial development assistance and business consulting to start-up, emerging, and existing business owners. In addition to one-on-on advising, we create, coordinate and promote programs and events to inspire, educate and engage individuals who wish to start or grow a small business.
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