A delicate balance exists between running your business on a day-to-day basis and strategizing for tomorrow. The good news is that small business entrepreneurs do spend a generous amount of time thinking about their future. The bad news is that it’s done on-the-fly and on-the-run (or in-the-shower).
Is that the kind of quality strategic thinking that shapes the business strategy when it comes to business growth? Although there is an up-side to on-the-fly strategic thinking, there's a greater down-side as your trade off quality.
Several years ago, I enrolled in the MDE (Management Development for Entrepreneurs) program at UCLA Anderson School of Business. It was a course held on campus every Friday for 6 months. We cringed at the idea of leaving our business “unattended” for 8 hours! Can you relate?
We were so caught up in the daily operation of our business. Yet, we also realized the need for dedicated time to think more deeply about our futures.
Importance of Strategic Thinking On Business Strategy
Thinking about the future of your business in an organized manner is essential to growing your small business. Although it won’t allow you to predict the future, it empowers you to shape your future.
Dedicated time for strategic thinking challenges the status quo. It gets you out of the “business as usual” mindset and trains your brain to see things that are new and vital to the future of your business. And, when you’re better informed about your business, your decision making produces a better business strategy and quality decisions.
Most of recognize the importance of strategic thinking. The real question is — when! Given all we juggle in the course of a day, personally and professionally, it's difficult to imagine a period of time that is uncommitted.
Time to Think Strategically
As business owners, we need to make time to think strategically. We can’t just be operationally busy all the time. We need to escape the day-to-day business operations to achieve a strategic perspective.
How much time? That varies from entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur. Because of current commitments, it may be necessary to ease into it by blocking out 1% of your schedule for uninterrupted, quality strategic thinking. If you generally work 40 – 60 hours each week, this is only 40 – 60 minutes. Every 2 weeks increase the percentage of your strategic thinking time until you are able to adjust your schedule to accommodate 10% of your time.
If you're not well-practiced in effectively using your artfully committed strategic thinking time, it may feel a bit odd at first. In fact, you might think it's the time to get caught up on that lengthy to-do list. Trust me...it's not!
During your strategic thinking time, explore the issues in your business. Look to see what’s happening around you, in your business, and in your industry. What’s changing? How do you need to adapt to the changes? What opportunities exist? How can your business capitalize on them?
Depending on the time, you'll find that your strategic thinking time takes on a strategy of its own. Tap into Unzip Your Success! 5 Types of Planning Every Small Business Needs, for a more detailed outline of what to think about on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
Thinking about the future is not linear. As you take steps and regularly commit to a predetermined quality amount of time each week, you'll notice the positive influence on the future of your business.
Strategic thinking helps you shape that future.