As you likely know, the tag line for The Stratecon Group is Strategic Concepts in Marketing. Strategy is a big part of what we do. In fact, if you were to view Stratecon founder Ted Green’s LinkedIn profile, you would see that 2 of the top 5 endorsements are for strategy (#1 Marketing Strategy and #4 Strategy). Because of that, at cocktail parties…at the grocery store…on tradeshow floors…I am often asked how a company can come up with a great strategy.
This is, of course, a huge topic (colleges teach whole courses on competitive strategy)…and every strategic formula is unique and customized to each individual client. But we can give some you some first steps that will help to set you on the path to developing a smarter strategy.
Step #1 – Step Back
While this may sound strange, the first step in developing a smarter strategy is to step back. Yep, I said step back. Why? When you are deep in the weeds of running your business on a day-to-day basis – with a hundred problems to solve and a thousand decisions to make…there is just no way you can focus on creating a new and better strategy. So your first step is to step back from your business to give yourself some space to clear your mind and seek new options.
There are many ways you can do this. We often recommend taking a long weekend off…perhaps booking a room or a Bed-and-Breakfast in a remote location, where – removed from your normal environmental interruptions, you are free to really clear your mind and think. Some owners hold management retreats for their entire management team, but keep in mind this is an event unto itself…and can usually benefit from utilizing an experienced facilitator.
Step #2 – Step Outside
This next step is a little more difficult…but equally necessary. Much as you need to escape your normal pressures on your time and awareness by stepping back – you need to also free your mind of the “conventional” thinking that has put you where you are.
T0 borrow an over-used phrase – you have to think outside the box. Human nature is such that we tend to put ourselves in our own little controlled environments…a box, if you will. It is necessary to break (mentally) out of the conventional thinking that we followed to put ourselves there.
This means that you must force yourself to consider options outside of your comfort zone…and your controlled world. You may also need to introduce outside influences (such as a consultant, for example) to pollinate fresh ideas for you and your team to consider.
Step #3 – Step Up
Finally, you must eliminate all boundaries and limitations from your thinking. You need to really consider audacious, big ideas. We are constantly surprised at how most company owners and managers default to incrementalism. Many business plans consist of little more than “last year plus 10%.” Step up…think big. Remove the often self-imposed limitations. Reach for the sky.
If your company hit $1 million in sales last year, don’t default to setting the new goal at $1.1 million. Instead, ask yourself this question: How do we get to $5 million in total revenues? Expand your thinking to come up with new products for your current market – or branch into whole new categories. Challenge yourself!
Good luck! And if you need any help…The Stratecon Group stands ready to help!