It’s 9:00 in the morning. Do you know where your strategic plan is?
Most busy business professionals have a legal pad with a list of things to do that is a mile long. The majority of those activities are reactive items that came about because of the action, or inaction, of someone else. They are constantly trying to put out one fire after another. Three years go by, and they wonder why they haven’t seen significant growth in their business and more free time to enjoy life.
The reason so many business people fall into this trap is because they fail to create the time to strategically plan their success. It’s easy to focus on the daily tasks that seem to take precedence. The truth is that only through strategic thinking and planning can you create a vision of your future and determine the best way to move towards that future.
There is a vast difference between strategic thinking and tactical thinking. Tactical thinking is based on immediate needs and issues. The tactics you employ are what take you through your day-to-day business. You create tactics to implement the strategic plans you have created.
As you can imagine, most companies and business professionals are so focused on the daily and weekly tactics they are implementing that they forget to look at the more important strategic picture for long-term guidance.
If you decide to cold call twenty potential clients a day in an effort to build your business, you are making a tactical decision. It should be based on an overall strategic plan. The strategic plan may call for you to build your client list by 15% per year for a five-year period.
Let’s look at this hypothetically to illustrate that point. This five-year goal would be based on strategic exercises and contemplation, and would show how you may have last grown your business in a significant way. This would be for example, when you had gone through an extended period of rapid client expansion.
Each year you should set aside time to create and rework your master strategic plan. Then, monthly and even weekly you should be thinking about your strategic plan and how what you are doing is following that plan.
I find that many professionals are too close to what they do to adequately create a strong strategic plan. However, as the expert in your field, you are the best one to determine the tactics necessary to implement a strategic plan. Many times, business professionals find it helpful to bring in outside assistance to lead them through a strategic thinking process. Strategic planning retreats can also be a powerful way of getting away from the daily grind of your business and forcing yourself to take the time to think and plan strategically.
If you feel that you are falling into this trap, schedule a half-day on your calendar. Leave your office, home, or wherever you work. Go someplace you cannot be interrupted. Ask yourself thought provoking questions and start the strategic process. Below are a few that I use with clients just to help get you started.
If you were to go to sleep and wake up ten years from now, how would you answer these questions?
What would your business look like?
What would your personal life be like?
What would have to happen over the next ten years to be able to achieve this?
What would you need to accomplish in the first year to help keep you on track for the following nine years?
This is just the tip of the iceberg. My retreats are intensive two-day total immersion programs. But, that’s what it takes to strategically plan your success.
Plan strategically each year, and you will be more accountable for the success of your business!