Believe it or not, most entrepreneurs I speak with do not have a well developed strategy for their business.
It’s perplexing because to win at any game – including business – being able to execute a solid strategy is a must.
It’s understandable because many people who own their own business fled or were exited from corporate life at some point in their career. If you, like me, sat through umpteen useless business “strategy” meetings and you’d sooner stick a needle in your eye than go back there again, I hear you.
But you want to win, right?
“But wait, won’t having a strategy make my business so rigid that I’ll hate it?” fears the entrepreneur.
Why Entrepreneurs Resist Structure
All entrepreneurs are creative by nature. Bristling at the idea of structure is an inherent trait of every creative person. Having a strategy does not make you rigid or inflexible – it provides you with a solid foundation. Instead of being caught off guard and forced into reaction mode by the latest disruption or distraction, decision making becomes easier when you have the foundation of a clear business strategy. When kept at the forefront of your mind, your strategy grounds you, enables a more mindful approach, and helps you make empowered decisions.
Grow the Top Line and Manage the Bottom Line Better Using Your Strategy as a Guide
Your strategy is here to guide you in growing the top line, and managing the bottom line as you move forward.
Let’s say there’s an online tool you want to buy. You think – you know – that it has the potential to make you more efficient. It’s highly recommended and you’ve done your research. Your strategy can help you decide the right time to move forward and make the investment. The right time is when using that skill or receiving the benefit of that tool is in line with the top priority of your strategy. The wrong time is when you don’t end up using said tool for six months or more because your true priorities were elsewhere.
When I put together a business strategy with my clients, we focus on three main elements that provide structure, but leave lots of room for creative entrepreneurship: big picture outcomes, two types of results, and recurring actions.
3 Main Elements of Your Business Strategy Road Map
1. Big Picture Outcomes
The purpose of Big Picture Outcomes is to align your business with who you are including:
- your values
- the meaningful impact you want to have on others and the world
- what you want to have and do
- who you need to become in order to bring it all to fruition.
Examples of Big Picture Outcomes: financial freedom, travel lifestyle, work from any location, become an authority in your field, leader in your community, mentor to others, create a legacy.
Big Picture Outcomes can be intangible because their main purpose is to drive tangible objectives like sales, number of clients, sources of income, and how you operate your business.
Result is a word that gets used interchangeably with outcome, but not in the context of your business strategy.
Results are tangible objectives that accumulate into Big Picture Outcomes. Results are measurable. They are either happening, or they are not happening.
Because you can see them, it’s easy to understand why most people think that results are the catalyst that drive business. Results aren’t the catalyst, but they are the signposts that let you know if are going in the right direction. And just like when you drive, there are big signs and little signs to keep you on the road.
Two types of results
Big sexy results like signing a new client or a big increase in sales have been traditionally celebrated, acknowledged and rewarded in business. But there is another type of result that is just as important and often overlooked – the critical smaller results that lead to the big sexy result.
By designing critical smaller results into your business strategy, you have more built-in guidance on your journey to success. When the critical small results are happening, the probability of the big result coming into fruition goes up. When the critical small results are not happening, you have less influence on your results, and if you don’t correct your course, you may find yourself relying on luck. The idea of relying on luck for your business results should make you feel very uncomfortable. But don’t worry. Help is on the way…
3. Recurring Actions
The Recurring Actions of your business are what you need to be doing consistently – on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis to create your desired results. Recurring Actions are the catalyst that determine your results and the life’s blood of your business.
Your results are the accumulation of what you do consistently over time and how you do it. The more clearly you have identified the recurring actions of your business, the more likely you are to keep on track. Well prioritized recurring actions are your road map to success.
Just like winning any other game with a score, business is a game of accumulating results. But it’s also about certainty. Taking action without strategy is like traveling without a GPS or a road map. When you know exactly why you are doing what you are doing, you’ll do it, or oversee its doing, with more commitment – ideally long enough to get the result.
When you have the clarity that a solid strategy provides, your certainty goes up.
You want to be able to say, “My business strategy is in place. I know what I’m doing and I know where my business is going.”