When I talk about strategic planning with small business owners and sole proprietors – and even, frankly, with some medium-sized organizations’ leaders – I often see puzzled expressions on their faces.
Isn’t “strategy” for big businesses, global corporations, large non-profits, the government, and the military?
And it’s for you, too.
Small business or non-profit, solopreneur, medium-sized business, and – yes – even individuals.
That is, if you want intentional direction in your business and your life, versus wandering in whatever direction life’s forces push you.
Don’t misunderstand me: wandering is an option, if it’s what you want. It’s what I did for many years, throughout my corporate career and even into self-employment (that was totally a wander, though I’m very glad it happened). It’s how most people start out.
But wandering – even if you think you’re heading toward a specific goal – tends to be frustrating and unfulfilling in the long run. Goals by themselves are not strategy.
Defining an annual strategic plan is hard work, especially the first time you do it. And it keeps feeling at least somewhat challenging, even after you’ve done it for years. Yet it’s also exciting and inspiring.
Strategic planning brings life and vitality into your business and your life. It reminds you of what you love, why you do what you do, what you’ve been missing – and what you don’t want to be doing, and why.
Strategic planning pushes you to think about all aspects of your work and your life, and shows you options for fitting those puzzle pieces together in rewarding, meaningful, profitable ways that just don’t happen when you wander.
(By the way you get to define “rewarding, meaningful, and profitable” however you want. It’s your strategy.)
Strategic planning also gives you a North Star for decision-making. Does it fit into your strategic plan? Yes – do it. No – think about it. (You can still choose to do it, but now it’s a conscious choice to take a particular step.)
If you’re one of many who have told me (or thought privately) that they don’t know how to “do” strategy, or they haven’t got a strategic mind-set, please know that strategic thinking is a skill, not a talent. And that means, like any skill, you can learn.
It’s worth learning.
There are many books, blogs, and other resources out there.
And there will be another book soon – the one I’m writing. It will not surprise you that my approach is a bit different from most others!
That said, I’ll point you to one very simple approach, from someone whose advice I trust on many levels: Theresa Reed at The Tarot Lady. Her post “3 ways to make time for your dreams & priorities” is a simple, practical, and very useful starting point.
Good luck getting started with your plan for next year. And if you have questions or comments, by all means, send them my way!