Strategic Planning: Not an After-Hours Activity
Merely stating that you have to carve out time for strategic thinking doesn’t make it so. For many small business owners already overwhelmed by all they have to do, an activity has to be valuable if it’s to be added to an already bloated calendar. The results achieved, especially in a highly competitive and fast-changing business environment, make strategic thinking a must!
Even when deemed vital for business success, many small business owners treat strategic thinking as an afterthought — an end-of-day activity when the hustle and bustle of the business day comes to a close.
By that time, decision fatigue sets in and, with no one to hold us accountable, it’s increasingly easy to put off this vital activity until another day.
Another day turns into next week, which turns into the following month. And, so it goes until a calamity stops us dead in our tracks. Sounds only too familiar, doesn’t it.
Strategic Planning: Hindsight is 20/20
Wouldn’t it be grand if a small business came with a crystal ball? It’s frustrating, stressful, and exhausting to work long hours only to discover at the end of a month, quarter or year that targets have been grossly missed. Ack!
Sadly, by the time, it’s too late.
It’s easy to blame the economy when business isn’t growing as we would like, but that’s really only part of the problem. The other culprit is the failure to make time to think strategically.
Strategic Planning: Your Future Awaits
Generally used in game theory, such as chess, strategic thinking involves the application of unique business insights to help your small business grow. Simply stated, strategic thinking is the logical process of knowing where you are, where you want to go, and how you’ll get there.
Strategic thinking affords you the opportunity to use data to glean valuable insights. Rather than hope an intended strategy nets results; strategic thinking expands the likelihood of achieving your small business goals.
Strategic Planning: Prioritize Your Small Business Success
The ideal time to maximize the benefits of strategic thinking is the first thing each morning. Before the rush of the day’s activities pulls you off track, strategic thinking sets the pace and the direction for your day.
Although strategic thinking sounds like a complicated process, it’s simpler than you may realize. Follow this eight-step-process to make strategic thinking a priority and realize how it fast-forwards your small business:
- Set aside the first 20 minutes of your day (before opening email).
- Eliminate distractions.
- Focus your attention.
- Gather your strategic thinking tools, including your goals, metrics, results, and performance.
- Look for trends or patterns of performance.
- Dig deep enough to understand the root cause or opportunities available to your small business.
- Develop a plan of action for the day that aligns your actions with your business mission, vision, strategies, and goals.
- Implement as planned.
Strategic thinking is the most important daily activity for any small business owner. It ensures what happens during your day isn’t just busy work but that it moves your business to the next level.
Stop doing — and start thinking — strategic thinking, that is!
Jackie Nagel, Founder of Synnovatia, arms small business owners and entrepreneurs with tried and tested strategies for business growth. This article first appeared on Synnovatia. Let’s connect: Linkedin | Twitter | Facebook | Google+