If you were going on a holiday overseas you would probably put quite a bit of time into planning how you were going to get there, where you would stay,what you want to see and do, what you would take in the way of clothing, equipment etc. It’ sad to say, but most business owners would put more time and energy into planning for a holiday that lasts a few weeks than strategizing on how to run their business for the next few years!
Many business owners don’t market on a regular basis employing adhoc lunges at promoting their services or products. Their results are as can be expected. Lumpy, inconsistent and costly in time and money. Their activities lack an objective and any structure.
I am reminded of one of my favourite quotes when it comes to business planning – or any planning, if it comes to that. The quote is attributed to the Chinese general Sun Tzu, a brilliant strategist who wrote the book “The Art Of War” in the 6th century B.C.. The quote reads “Strategy without tactics is the slow route to victory – tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat”.
Tactics are like tools that can be employed to achieve a short term result. If your opposition (your competitors) change their tactics you may need to completely alter yours to stay competitive. For example a marketing strategy you choose may be networking. This strategy could involve various tactics that can be adjusted without impacting the high level direction or strategy.
There needs to be structure in how you go about your marketing to make it successful. Your strategy would include measurement and adjustment of tactics where and when necessary. Strategy tends to be longer term and constant – however it should be flexible.
Having a vision for your business and a clear idea of where you want to get to, and the time frame for achievement of your objectives, is where strategy starts. It helps to describe the long term outcomes you desire and then work back from them to the present moment.
You are building a bridge between your current circumstances and your ideal future in your mind. Actually taking the time to do this creates magic! The thinking and creating process is critical to set up an expectation in your mind that in turn generates desire and a nice kind of tension that can drive you to act.
Of course strategy without lower level tactics or tasks defined and performed daily will not deliver the results you crave. Your thoughts and $4 will buy you a cup of coffee, but taking action on your strategy with commitment and daily implementation of your tactics will reward you with great success.