Monday, May 25, 2015

Small Business Planning - Always Start With a Strategy

I'm not sure who said it first, but I'm fond of the phrase, "The way you do anything is the way you do everything." In business and in life, starting everything with a clearly defined strategy will greatly enhance your success.
What is a strategy? A strategy is simply a plan of action that enables you to reach a goal. A good strategy functions as your guiding light, your reason for choosing one action over another. When you identify your strategy upfront, you make it easy to stay focused on the actions that will meet your goal. When planning for your small business, developing a strategy is critical. But many business owners don't understand the difference between goals, strategies and tactics.

Let's break it down to simple terms. I like to use the sandbox analogy. Let's say a group of us live in the same neighborhood and every afternoon we gather to play. My GOAL is to get more kids to come and play in my yard, because this will make me happier. How can I accomplish this?
I've looked over the other yards in the neighborhood and talked with the kids on the block and found that a great sandbox is high on their list of priorities when choosing a yard to play in.
So I've decided my STRATEGY will be to have the best sandbox on the block. This is how I'll get more kids to come to my yard. I'll differentiate my backyard from the others on the block by having a fabulous sandbox.
I'll use a number of TACTICS to carry out my strategy, including providing better sandbox tools, celebrity sand-castle building competitions, snacks for kids playing in the sandbox, and so on. All these tactics are designed to make my sandbox the best in the neighborhood.
By focusing my strategy on the sandbox, that means I probably won't upgrade the swing set this year. Instead I'll make as many improvements around the sandbox as my budget will allow. And I'll promote the heck out of my sandbox, branding it as the best sandbox on the block.
Do you see how you can succeed by clearly understanding your goal and developing a strategy that supports it? A great strategy is the cornerstone of any winning venture, be it a client proposal, a marketing plan or an internal project. Create a solid business strategy and watch your sandbox flourish!
Need Help? Are you stressed by the challenges of being self-employed or running your small business? Sharon Reus is a small business coach who helps business owners and solo professionals go from overwhelmed to empowered, creating and sustaining profitable businesses and fulfilling lives. Download the first chapter of Sharon's ebook, "No-Fear Networking: Show Up, Speak Up, Follow Up!".
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