This week’s Pearl of Leadership Wisdom is on Strategy.

“What’s the use of running if you are not on the right road” – German proverb

Hello Big Boy…

Strategy is not just for the big guys. Small businesses need one as well.  And it doesn’t have to be a 200 page tome. And it doesn’t need consultants.

What is a strategy…?

It’s your purpose. Your direction. It contains your vision and mission. It states your competitive advantage (or makes you get one if you don’t have one). The markets you are in. And more.

This applies to you.

And your team…

Strategy binds people with good attitude together under a common purpose. A higher level, compelling, challenging, achievable purpose.

Links in a chain…

The output of strategy is strategic objectives. This could be…..”put a man on the moon before this decade is out”. Or it could be “find 5 new profitable customers in the hotel sector by year end”.

And these objectives are linked to the plans that deliver the strategic objectives…marketing objectives, operational objectives, technology objectives…

You may need to pull all these together to put a man on the moon. If your goals are more modest, you may just need to find an effective marketing channel. Or hire a telemarketer.

And the chain continues…

…into individual objectives for leaders, managers and staff. Or just you if you are all three.

The point is you are now in goal-directed action mode. You have a target, a destination, and you can walk or run, depending on your level of ambition.

It doesn’t matter who you are – you’re either on the right road or you’re not. Marshalling thousands of people and billions of quid, or just your own time…

That’s why you need a strategy.

So how to do it…?

Start with the end in mind. What’s the output of a strategy? I’d say approximately four objectives max, for the next year… four  things that, if you achieve them will have taken you forward (assuming you want to go forward of course). Objectives that, once achieved, will make you feel proud, make you happy. Make you feel in control, purposeful and productive.

Tool up…

There are some tools that are as old as the hills.

A SWOT analysis to measure your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and opportunities combine to tell you where the money is, right now. Act on this first. Weaknesses and threats need to be plugged, but later.

A competitive force analysis – which tells you which of the four business strategies you really should have (some say this is simplistic, or old-fashioned, but it holds true for the majority of businesses and if you’re not clear on which one of these strategies you have, you are going to get eaten alive from both ends at the same time).

The Ansoff matrix puts real context into your product/market mix and the associated risks.

Get my free list of 372 strategy tools…

No. There are many others, but there are only about ten that have widespread relevance and I suspect about four that really apply to you.Less is more.

These tools are simple, easy to understand and can be done on the back of a fag packet.

Once you’ve done this (spend no more than one hour), you should be able to construct 3 to 5 strategic objectives for your business.

Then you have purpose. And your actions can be goal-directed. And whether you choose to walk or run, at least you’re on the right road.


Here’s some stuff on the tools mentioned above –

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