Last year, after working for over 20 years in the corporate world, I decided to start my own business. After all, I’d been an executive for most of my career, that would easily carry over to my new business, right?
I had a business plan. I had an idea of who might be interested in my services. I had worked through all of the back-end specifics in enough detail to make your head spin. Yet, I woke up one day to find myself completely stuck, unable to figure out why I was stuck or where I should go. Until I took my own company through the strategy development program I use with my clients. What I realized is that while I had a lot of things, I had forgotten the basics with my own company; I lacked a clear strategy.
Strategy development provides clarity, offers direction and breathes intention into your vision. Your vision deserves to be seen; a clear strategy will make that a reality.
Here’s why having a strategy is important, especially for small businesses:
1. You’re not good at the things you don’t like to do and vice versa.
You have most likely worked in jobs before where you have other people to do the things you don’t like to do. And you’ve been successful because you’ve been able to rely on them when the time is right. As a small business, there are times that you’re going to need to roll up your sleeves and figure things out, and there are times when spending money to have someone else do it is the best thing you can do for yourself. You need a strategy to know when to do which.
2. Ideas are inspired by conversation.
When you work in an office, it’s easy to underestimate the value of conversation. A simple “hey, what do you think of…” goes a long way to inspire greater thought. As a small business owner, we are often working from home to keep our run rate down, yet I wonder how much we are losing by not working in an office where that conversation can happen. Having an objective thought partner that isn’t your furry couch partner with 4 legs (read: coach and/or strategic planning partner) is invaluable to your company.
3. Visioning helps you define your future and your goals.
When you started this, you had a vision of what this would become. I’m willing to bet no entrepreneur imagines a future where their small business fails, yet according to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. When you allow yourself time to truly envisage your future, you also focus yourself on key goals that will drive this result.
4. Having a mission statement is more important than you think.
Yikes, a mission statement? All that does it dredge up memories of months in a conference room arguing over whether the word should be “the” or “a”. But mission statements embody the heart of your organization. They are your why. They help you get out of bed every morning and remind you of why you started this in the first place. And more importantly, they tell the world why you’re here and what you do. It deserves your time and your energy.
5. Active investment is better than passive loss.
I have worried here and there about spending money on things I think are important but can’t be sure will have a return. For me, it’s conferences, networking opportunities and the like. The result: inaction. What if…is the question of the devil if you ask me. What if…what? The question should be: what if you DON’T do this? What opportunities will the company lose? If you were an investor in a company, what would you be asking about the expenses? I bet you’d be asking for a strategy, and how this expenditure fits within that strategy.
The Extend Coaching & Consulting small business strategy development program helps businesses create strategies that thrive on strengths, build actionable goals that achieve measurable results, address internal dynamics to increase communications and realize sustainable growth for the long term. Let Extend help you grow into your vision. Call us at 410-337-4940 for an overview of the program.