If you are like most small business owners, you have more ideas than you can possibly implement. So how can you tell the difference between:
- An idea that will take your business where you want to go, and
- A shiny bauble (a distraction that looks like an opportunity)?
As you attempt to figure this out you inevitably waste a great deal of time, money and energy without accomplishing anything. That’s because the typical approach to identifying the best opportunities goes a bit like this:
Oh yeah, Jim was telling me about this widget idea. I think it’s a great idea. I need to start working on this. I have fifteen minutes later today.
(An hour later) I forgot about the opportunity that getting involved with ABC Company presents. I think I’ll just email Mary about this now.
(While writing the email) Oh my gosh, I forgot to follow up with Carol about the possibility of presenting to her networking group. I better reply to her email before I email Mary.
(at the end of the day) I am so tired. I’ve been running from this thing to that one all day long. I wonder what I have accomplished?
In other words, the typical small business owner starts three or more projects at once. When combined with meeting client or customer requirements (I didn’t even bring that up in the scenario, but it never goes away) what actually happens is….nothing.
Without prioritization and the focus that goes along with it, the small business owner is constantly being distracted by more and more opportunities. The excitement of new possibilities is high, until the day the small business owner (you?) realizes she is tired, possibly even burnt out, and has accomplished only a fraction of what she planned. In the worst case scenario multiple ideas have been started and abandoned with none being completed.
The answer to this dilemma is to lay all your options out in front of you and compare them to where you are now and where you want your business to be in the future. You’ll also consider:
- Your brand identity
- Current offerings
- Resources available
- Your ideal client, and more.
Can I let you in on a secret? Don’t tell anyone else….this is the basis for strategic planning. No, don’t run off screaming. It’s not as hard or as scary as it sounds and the payoff for doing it is huge.
You don’t need to do planning alone. In fact, I recommend not doing it alone. Outside perspective helps clarify what is truly important.
The other piece of good news I have to share is that strategic planning does not need to rely solely on you analyzing the opportunities and arbitrarily (at least it feels this way) selecting which way you are going to move next. The Hoshin method of strategic planning is a process based approach that steps you through your strategy formulation in a way that is painless and leaves you convinced about what is most important to accomplish first. The outcome: Focused excitement that propels you to quickly implement ideas in a systematic manner.
So, what is the final outcome? Not only do you get more done, strategic planning also increases your satisfaction in your business and improves your profitability. Is there anything better than loving your work and getting paid well for doing it?
If you would like more information on the Hoshin method of strategic planning, please let me know. I would be very happy to chat further with you because I love what I do and love sharing my knowledge with others. And yes, this is enabled because I regularly do my own strategic planning.
Have a great day!