In Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat about where to go. When the Cat hears that Alice isn’t particular where she goes as long as she arrives somewhere, he replies, “then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” Could your business wander if you don’t create a strategic plan?
Where do you want to take your business?
Alice intended to get back to her sister but she didn’t go about her search in an organised way. There comes a moment when it’s time to harness everything about your business and focus it. But you put it off – too busy, too hard or you begin to doubt you can lead your business through its next growth stage.
The real reason for your avoidance?
All strategic plans must be powered by a leader providing the vision and enthusiasm. When the leader resists this role, it can lead to a lack of understanding and clarity about the leaders’ expectations so team members may not be sure which actions are the best ones.
Writing it down makes it real.
When you’re imagining what your business could be, it stays dream-like and unreal. Put it on paper and now it’s another ball of wax entirely. I coached a client who was eager to expand beyond his local region. His vision was clear enough and he had some ideas of what steps to take. However, when I asked about his strategic plan, he seemed to become less decisive and more engaged with other opportunities that had cropped up.
Related: How Clear Is Your Vision
It seems strange that a high performer would stop moving forward
Even highly talented people can feel self-doubt. For some, operating on a higher level triggers the erroneous belief that you have to have all of the answers or that you have to be “good enough” to succeed in your ideal market. These beliefs eat away at your ability to imagine, make decisions or inspire others to take action.
Steps to eliminate the intimidation factor:
- Ask yourself, “why am I really avoiding my strategic plan? We often know the truth about ourselves. Sometimes we build things up in our heads and then they are so anticlimactic when we do them. Why is it too hard, too time consuming or too (fill in your word)? Is this valid? What will happen if I let this intimidate me? Can I live with that?
- Let go of needing to be the one with the answers: Get input from your team and use tools like a PESTEL analysis and/or a SWOT analysis. Getting data from multiple sources about the world you’re operating in releases that pressure.
- Does this business excite me? Reviewing the vision and mission statement lets you see if you still like your business. If you like it, what’s next? If you don’t like it, what needs to change?
- Prioritise the year-long goals: Give each goal a number regarding its importance. Invest resources, energy and personnel only on the ones that are top choices and will move the business vision closer to reality.
- List the obstacles: Make this a game by encouraging everyone to make a list of what will get in the way of the goals. Give an award out to the person with the longest list. This will allow you and your team to make better contingency plans.
- Clearly identify who is responsible for each goal: Although the small business owner is ultimately responsible for the whole plan, it is unreasonable for him/her to oversee each goal. Have team members assign themselves specific goal areas and schedule regular check-ins to monitor progress.
Go where you want to go
You can be like Alice and wander your way through. Or…you can allow yourself to feel confident that you’ve got the ability to lead your company through this growth stage. Sometimes things in business, like a strategic plan, aren’t really that foreign or difficult. It’s simply finding that step that renews your ability to see your vision become everyday reality. What do you think?