02.06.20163 min read

Strategy: The Most Misunderstood Pillar of Small Business Success

When I talk of the three pillars of small business success (leadership, strategy, and automation), people in the audience naturally understand the importance of leadership. And although they may not understand the “how,” they can certainly appreciate the value of automating mundane tasks. But the topic of “strategy” can be confusing and ambiguous to business owners.

By the way, I noticed the same thing in business school. My peers naturally grasped subjects like accounting, finance, and marketing. But our strategy class left a lot of people confused.

So, if you’re wondering what I mean when I say “strategy is a key pillar of small business success,” you’re in good company.

There are a lot of different definitions and schools of thought when it comes to strategy. You can read tons of books on the subject, hire expensive consultants, and waste a lot of money listening to the experts. But, when you get right down to it, only you, the business owner, can define your strategy. And that’s because your strategy is unique to you.

I define strategy this way:

Strategy is focusing on what you do well to help you win in your business.

As you know, you can spend your time and money in business chasing 100 different opportunities. At the heart of great strategy is this principle: “Know thyself.”

  • What do you do well naturally?
  • What gets you more excited and passionate than anything else?
  • What are the most valuable characteristics of your business?
  • What are you and your company known for among customers, partners, and employees?
  • If you and your competitor both focused on the same things, where would you win?

Fancy consultants use terms like “core competencies,” “competitive advantage,” and “ROI.”  The idea is to simply understand what you do well and then put all your resources and attention on those few things so you get maximum results. Don’t chase 100 opportunities. Focus. Narrow down your strengths in business to three to five things that, if you focus on, will result in big results.

I will break down the strategy planning process much more in future posts. For now, it’s enough to say that most entrepreneurs don’t take the time to focus on their strengths the way they ought to. Don’t make that mistake.

SBS Idea of the Day: Quick—jot down the top five things that you do well that differentiate you from your competition. Now, how much of your time and money is spent investing in those five areas? Move your time and money away from the things that aren’t on the list and pour it into the things that are on your list. Your business will improve, things will get simpler, and you’ll conserve a lot of time and money that you’re wasting on stuff that isn’t working.


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