27 Apr Do you see yourself as a strategist in your business?
During stage one of your business cycle, you had to be very hands-on, because there was no one else there to do the range of tasks. In any case you couldn’t afford the extra hands. If you have successfully navigated the troubled though exciting waters of this initial phase, you have reached the first “patch” in your commercial journey. You have a bit of mass and the shape of a business structure is emerging. Now you have others to do the “jobs” and it’s time for you to “be strategic.” —–Whatever that means.
Is it a load of “tripe” or is it critically important for your businesses forward journey.
Your temptation is to deal with what’s directly in front of you, because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Unfortunately, if you do that, you put your businesses potential at risk in the longer term. While you concentrate on steering around potholes, you’ll miss both the emerging opportunities and threats.
As a business person you need to have two planning timeframes in your mind.
- Short term survival.
- Longer term strategic positioning, so that your business can establish sustainable competitive advantage. Achieving this will enhance your capability to optimise your return on your investment ROI.
It’s difficult to be a strategic leader if you don’t know what strategic leaders are supposed to do. The following definition may help you to better understand, in a practical way, the difference between Leadership and Management.
A leader drives forward on a route that doesn’t yet have road signs erected, whereas managers will steer their ship via the roadmap established by the leader.
In business you need a balance between these polar opposite skill-sets. In larger businesses one can achieve this necessary balance within the team. Owner managers of SME type businesses may not yet have this team, so they have to cater for these polar opposite pressure points within their own head. Just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean that it’s not necessary.
In your strategic role you must be capable of driving in a direction, where you have picked up vague signals but no road signs. You must constantly scan the horizon to spot early vague signals of opportunity or approaching threats. When you spot a light at the end of the tunnel, do you see it as an opportunity or as an approaching train that might trample you?
In the early stages of his business cycle, a successful business person I admire for his commercial achievements, used to borrow money to go to international shows and training programmes. At that stage he could never afford to buy anything at these shows, but he always came back with an idea, which he was able to re-engineer into commercial products. These formed the basis for his later commercial success. Would you commit to this type of investment, or would you see it as a cost?
A sound Kerryman once said-“It takes a great person to plough a field properly, whereas anyone could come in later and harrow it”.
Can you plough or are you just the person who harrows the ploughed field?
There seems to be a herd instinct in most of us. If you are part of the herd, then you cannot get any further than the herd. We have a sign up in the office which reads
By the time the herd arrives, it’s too late.
The safe but more barren patch is to be in the middle of the herd. Here you will be less noticed. If you swallow every supposed expert and safe opinion at face value, your business will loose competitive advantage. Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own. Synthesize information from many sources before developing your own viewpoint. Your JUDGMENT calls are critical. You will never have full information, so trust your “gut”. Decision based on your “gut” will be right far more often than they will be wrong.
Having make the decision, then you need to put in place an action plan to make it happen on the ground. Can you paint the picture for your “enablers”, so that they too can focus in on delivering your visualized output? In the absence of a common cause, pettiness tends to prevail. You must cause the building of the appropriate Business Model as your vehicle to deliver your planned output. The market will only pay you based on OUTPUT, not for talking about it. The acid test will be – can you invoice it.
If it’s to be it’s up to me.
Blaise Brosnan ©