Business owners wear so many hats at the same time that it is easy to get stuck in the “just get it done” mode rather than thinking through what is being done. Strategic thinking is an art, but can be learned by anyone.
Here is an example of strategic thinking vs. “just get it done” thinking:
Get it done: My car is almost out of gas. I’ll stop at the next station and fill up.
Strategic thinking: I know my car will run out of gas. I’ll plan to fill up on my next trip to the office, which takes me past the station with the lowest prices.
The difference between the two examples is clear – just doing things on impulse or out of desperation leads to consequences that can be more costly. Thinking ahead lets us make decisions with better consequences, and more efficient use of our time.
Some strategic thinking questions are:
Is this trip really necessary?
Is my time used effectively, or can I leverage myself better by outsourcing some things?
Do I hire the next person who can fog a mirror, or can I attract a new hire that will really benefit me in specific need areas?
What outcomes do I expect to achieve this quarter? (vs. just keeping busy doing daily things the business demands).
It’s not all that difficult to think strategically. If your day pushes you around and you just react to everything that happens, you aren’t thinking strategically. Thus, you are likely not using your day as productively as you might if you took a little time to think about what you are doing and why.
To get started, try to identify areas where you are wasting your time with little return in value. What things do you do each day that bring little or nothing in return? Then, eliminate those things or replace them with more productive behaviors.
Then, fine tune your day a bit by thinking about consequences. For example, you have spent $1000 on marketing this year and don’t know if it has brought results. Why? Is it because you don’t have a good way to track, or that you are spending money on what others do, but it isn’t working for you? Understanding consequences will help you make better decisions. If you aren’t reaching the results you wanted, what can you safely predict will happen if you continue spending that marketing money in the same way? Consequence – no results, continued. So, make a change. Think it through. Engage a specialist to help you short term and to short cut your learning curve.
Strategic thinking – it’s about making the most of what we do.