Actually, it never was.
Big companies invest time and resources in strategy out of necessity. Like a cruise ship, they have to look far ahead because it takes so long to change direction. But what about small businesses and career professionals–the speedboats and jet skis of the world of work–why should you care about strategy?
Your needs are different from corporations, but a clear strategy can have an even bigger effect on short- and long-term success for small businesses and individuals. Read on for 3 reasons why strategic thinking is a worthwhile activity for us all.
Why You Should Try A Little Strategic Thinking
Serves as a tie-breaker for tough tactical decisions.
Sometimes in the course of doing business, there is a fork in the road with two viable paths. Deciding what kind of company or person you want to be can help you choose between two seemingly similar opportunities. From deciding which neighborhood is right for a second location to choosing between job offers with similar locations, salaries, and benefits–committing to a strategy before you have to choose makes deciding–and sticking to that decision–much easier.
Makes it easier for potential customers, business partners, and employers to connect with you.
We all have that restaurant, product, or smartphone that we have no rational defense for. The restaurant is on the other side of town, the product has to be shipped from Italy, the smartphone costs more because they’ve added new features that you won’t use. But they speak to you; they connect with you in a way that makes those shortcomings inconsequential. Some people will say they have a strong “brand.” I say they have a strategy that is so inclusive and compelling that investing time/money/effort to help them achieve it brings you joy. You can do that for people too.
Allows you to say no to potential distractions.
I know a lot of people who have trouble saying no. I’m one of them. That’s why it’s important to have a strategy to point back to when it’s time to say no. So instead of feeling obligated to help out that plucky little startup with no money and a lot of idealistic expectations, you can say, “I’d love to work with you all, but it may be a bit early in your journey to connect. We focus on more established small businesses with revenues of X.”
A career professional might say, “While this position sounds like a great opportunity, my focus is on marketing positions in the consumer packaged goods industry. I’m afraid marketing for a unicycle tour of the Rockies is off strategy for me.” No need to endure a guilt-driven phone screen or initial interview bogging down your calendar. Every “no” to something off strategy is a “yes” to focusing your energy on the things that move you forward.
Invest in your own strategy
The world of business flows toward those who operate based on a strategy. Big companies have developed them out of necessity, so the business world seems to align to support them. But when you develop a strategy for what you want to accomplish and why, you can unlock the same benefits as multi-national corporations. Partners, suppliers, customers, colleagues, hiring managers–they all naturally gravitate to a purpose, a plan. It infuses their work with value. If you show them your strategy–live it in everything you do–they will reward you with their effort.
At the end of the day, your precious time and effort is supporting someone’s strategy. Why not make it your own?