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Strategic Thinking

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strategic thinking

When entrepreneurs think of “self-care,” we often think of indulging in a long walk, a vigorous run along some trails, a massage, an afternoon nap, a fictional read, or a long weekend. We would not add “carving out time for strategic thinking” to that list.

Strategic thinking, a cognitive process of clarifying your business objectives, goals, and plans, is often viewed as a task worthy of our undivided, focused attention. It’s time to concentrate intensely on planning and problem-solving using every brain cell available. Self-care? Hardly!

The Self-Care Myth

strategic thinking

Most of us conflate “self-care” with “work-life balance.”  We often place our attention and effort in the work-life balance bucket in search of a drumbeat of work and rest that keeps us sharp, focused, and innovative — only to stumble repeatedly.

And it’s not just me. The entrepreneurs with whom I strategize share the same angst.

Attempts to achieve self-care through a balanced life feel a bit like a mirage. There are continual roles to juggle, projects to implement, and deadlines to meet. That’s how business functions in today’s fast-paced competitive marketplace. Being overwhelmed by all the responsibilities of growing a business almost feels natural.

Unfortunately, self-care is usually the last item to be addressed — unless we’re “forced” to slow down, take a break, and take it easy.  But never fear! There is a way to make self-care more of a priority without losing your sanity.

It turns out that strategic thinking is the ideal form of self-care for overwhelmed entrepreneurs.

Who knew?

21st Century Self-Care is Powerful

Honestly, self-care has gotten a bit of a bad reputation.

Yet, a continual diet of stress and overwhelm that often accompanies business growth forces our bodies into overdrive. We produce high levels of cortisol. Adrenaline increases our heart rate, elevates our blood pressure, and uses more energy than normal because of the perceived or real threat. The result? Even greater levels of stress and overwhelm — only this time, our bodies are less equipped to fight back. Eventually, burnout sets in.

But you already knew that, right?

Rather than succumb to the unseemly impact of persistent pressure, why not reignite possibilities by taking time to think strategically about the future of your business?

Open Your Mind and Say, “Ahhh”

You may think you’re too distracted or stressed to take the time to think strategically — especially if you’re caught in the Messy Middle. Yet, the gains of doing so far outweigh the many perceived disadvantages.

Strategic thinkers, often characterized as having high levels of creativity, adaptability, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities — all important traits for any successful entrepreneur — require time to see things differently. It’s mandatory for success.

When the frantic speed begins to slow, our minds open to creative possibilities. We create space to listen to ourselves — an often-ignored quality. Strategic thinking pulls us out of the vortex of crisis thinking and encourages objectivity.

It emboldens us to look at problems from different angles and to come up with imaginative solutions not previously considered to address stubborn problems.

But it goes beyond finding solutions to problems; strategic thinking helps identify opportunities and create strategies that lead to growth. You make better decisions about where to invest your time and money to achieve the best possible outcome for your business. It empowers you to avoid costly mistakes, maximize profits, and stay ahead of your competitors in an ever-changing market.

Finally, as a strategic thinker, you are better equipped to ensure that everyone involved in a project understands the vision and objectives for each task or project. It fosters collaboration and allows your team to work together towards common goals more effectively.

In addition to gaining clarity, strategic thinking enhances well-being and quality of life. Energy levels increase since you’re not expending unnecessary vitality in catastrophizing. It improves your ability to do quality work and boosts your willingness to persist when business gets tough.

Think Smarter, Not Harder

The first step in utilizing strategic thinking as self-care is to figure out what “strategic thinking” means — and looks like — for you.

Strategic thinking involves understanding the bigger picture of your life and work and figuring out how to move forward with those goals. It focuses your energy on the most important tasks, or as one of my clients calls them, “high-impact, high-value tasks,” while minimizing distractions from less important ones. It allows you to prioritize your goals so you can focus on the ones that will influence your business growth the most.

More importantly, it recharges your soul.

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We would love to help you think and grow more strategically. We’ll even share our “famous” planning process with you. Click here to schedule a time to explore the possibilities.

strategic thinking

Strategic thinking, the thinking process used by the most intentional and successful of Stage II enterprise entrepreneurs is getting a bad rap!  And,  who’s paying the price for it?

You are! The small business owner!

Apparently someone (insert air quotes here) is attempting to sell snake oil on how to think about thinking strategically. After a while, it gums up our business growth. 

 

strategic thinking

 

Myth #1: Strategic Thinking is Only for Big Business

Actually, strategic thinking is for any business looking to take a long-range view of their business and the environment in which it operates. It’s what’s required to make the most of any changes on the horizon.

Applied successfully, strategic thinking helps you better leverage your precious resources of time, talent, and money. With better use of resources comes accelerated forward movement.

Myth #2: Only Certain People are Qualified for Strategic Thinking

The numbers are in — and they aren’t pretty! Chief Executive Magazine reported that only 3 out of every 10 business leaders know how to think strategically.

Don’t let this statistic reinforce the myth. Actually, it points out that few people have been taught this critical business skill. If you’re willing to learn,  you can become a strategic thinker for your business.

Myth #3: I Don’t Have Time to Think Strategically

This is quite prevalent, especially for small businesses. I understand first-hand how difficult it is to pull our heads out of the day-to-day operations, especially once the flurry of our inbox is unleashed.

My dad taught me that if you don’t take the time to do something right the first time, how much time do you have to do it over. That’s a valuable lesson to learn.

High-level thinking encourages the proactive monitoring of your business so you’re not caught off guard by some unnoticed event or trend. Strategic thinking saves you time and money. In the end, it’s what takes the business to the next level. 

Myth #4: Strategic Thinking is a Waste of Time

This myth is particularly poignant for many business owners who escaped the bureaucracy of a corporation in search of their own business.

Having spent hour, upon grueling hour, tied up with multiple people who talked ad infinitum only to use the strategic plan as a doorstop, it’s natural to think it’s a waste of time.

Truthfully, strategic thinking is fast, easy, and very effective when done consistently and correctly. (Be sure to ask us how!)

Myth #5: I Think Strategically All Day

Is it strategic in nature? Does it take your goals into consideration? Is it based on data? Are actionable, corrective actions included in your thinking?

You may be thinking all day but you’re not thinking strategically. In fact, most entrepreneurs spend their day thinking tactically. In reality, you’re thinking about how everything will get done.

Strategic thinking, at the start of your week and/or day, means less thinking (i.e., worrying) about how to get it all done. Strategic thinking clears out the clutter lurking in your mind. It keeps you focused and on track with the activities most meaningful to achieving your dreams.

Do any of these myths sound familiar? If so, rethink your approach to the kind of thinking that ultimately impacts your business.

Strategic thinking is the quickest, most predictable, time-effective skill to achieving business success.

 

business strategy

We all believe we’re pretty good at strategic thinking. Yet, only 3 out of 10 small business owners know how to think, plan, and excecute strategically. Eek!

Refining your strategic skills creates a treasure trove of opportunities for you, including:

  • a fresh look at the business environment to identify trends and strengthen business
  • establishment of a clear direction — the one you want
  • smarter business decisions based on sound principles
  • better and wiser allocation of resources
  • improved positioning in the marketplace for better (and easier) growth
  • …and many more

business strategy

How Strategic Are You?

Rick Horwath, the best selling author on strategy, provides a quick quiz to test these vital skills. Are you ready for this (Answers are below — no peeking!)?

1. At the heart of the business strategy is:

A. The intelligent allocation of limited resources.

B. Distributing resources across all potential growth opportunities.

C. Working to be better and faster than the competition.

2. Successful business strategy is about:

A. Being better than the competition.

B. Having the “right people on the bus.”

C. Providing differentiated value to customers.

3. The three disciplines of strategy are:

A. People, strategy, and process.

B. Customer focus, service, and product leadership.

C. Acumen, allocation, and action.

4. A goal is:

A. The current purpose of the organization.

B. The general outcome you’re trying to achieve.

C. The specific outcome you’re trying to achieve.

5. An objective is:

A. The specific outcome you’re trying to achieve.

B. The future purpose of the organization.

C. The general outcome you’re trying to achieve.

6. Goals and objectives represent:

A. How you will achieve your mission and vision.

B. What you are trying to achieve.

C. The tactical means of achieving business success.

7. Strategy and tactics represent:

A. How you will achieve your goals and objectives.

B. Long and short term goals.

C. A balanced scorecard indicating business performance.

8. Strategic thinking can be defined as:

A. The annual process for creating a strategic plan.

B. The ability to generate business insights on a continual basis.

C. Using SWOT Analysis to identify opportunities and threats.

9. An effective strategy depends just as much on:

A. Tactics as it does goals and objectives.

B. The economy as it does on your core competencies.

C. What you choose not to do as it does on what you choose to do.

10. Good strategy requires managers to:

A. Not be all things to all people.

B. Serve as many customers as possible.

C. Develop an exit strategy for the business.

Sooooo, how did you do?

Ready to Achieve More?

Being strategic means achieving what you’ve never achieved before.

(Answers:  1.A  2.C  3.C  4.B  5.A  6.B  7.A  8.B  9.C  10.A)

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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