In today’s challenging business environment, it is increasingly difficult for small business owners and execs to focus on long-term business strategies for growth and opportunities when dealing with imminent organizational crises.
Every business can be identified with some critical factors that underpin its operations. Whether it is a multi-national corporation, a medium size organization, or a Sole Proprietary business, each of these has its own peculiar challenge and there is no single dosage of “get-well-kwik” prescription that fits all.
There is a mega mismatch of criterion in this instance and the reason is that majority of people are yet to come to the realization that the business planning strategy that works for mega organizations will definitely not be suitable as strategies for small businesses. This misconception came as a result of business-school textbooks and theories which were majorly tailored towards large organizations and people believe that the same theory works for small businesses especially as their ultimate aim is to grow and become large. But it doesn’t work that way.
Every large organization has a responsibility to implement a working strategic business planning system that will help it stay ahead of competition and succeed in business. In order words, large companies must adopt a continuous strategic planning system, comprehensive budgeting and forecasting exercise, SWOT analysis, KPI reporting, and continuous improvement procedures to evaluate their outcomes.
Interestingly, the opposite is the case for small companies. Small businesses should scrap strategic planning; and here is the reason:
• They Don’t Have Time
In reality, small business owner don’t have the luxury of time to invest in days or weeks of strategic planning exercise. He or she doesn’t have huge human resource capability; in other words, the business owner in most cases is the CEO, Marketing and Operations Manager, as well as Customer Service Director spontaneously.
This being the case, the only strategies for small business that is attractive to him are those that point him where the customers are.
• It’s Expensive
The primary focus of every small business is to generate sales, this means that their top teams (if they have more than one) who are constantly seeking 1-2-1 opportunities with prospective customers through business network meetings, seminars, workshops and cold calling strategies cannot afford to be pulled off the road for an intensive business planning strategy as this impacts negatively on their revenues.
• The Benefits Are Short-Lived
The nature of small business is such that it constantly adjusts its business strategies to find the one that suits better. The strategies developed during strategic planning sessions may therefore not serve any meaningful purpose to the business if they have to be changed in a short while.
Okay, so Nkem do you mean that small businesses should operate with their eyes closed to planning? Nope!
If you are a small business owner, what you need to grow your business faster is strategic thinking which is the practice that allows you to respond to every challenge and opportunity in a strategic way. Here are examples.
1. Plan in the Corridor
You see, for small businesses, big ideas don’t often come from long strategic planning sessions simply because they don’t have time for it. Instead, they fall off along the corridors or in the elevators.
The bottom-line is for you to constantly keep yourself within the circumference of power to be able to think as a strategist. That is what will make the difference for you.
2. Challenge the Status Quo
In the ever dynamic business environment, small businesses should learn to challenge certain industry dogmas that exist to frustrate their growth. For example, at the early stage of my Business Coaching and Leadership Development Practice, I sought advice from some business advisors and consultants that almost killed my enthusiasm for my business. At different times each of them said to me, “it’s hard,” “it doesn’t work.”
You see, sometimes in business, it is crucial for executives to make strategic business planning decisions that are inconsistent with accepted industry norms sometimes. When someone tells you “it won’t work,” I recommend that you find out and make notes of the reasons why the idea “won’t work.” Is the price is too high, or will customers not like it? Whatever the reason, find out what can be done to make it work?
3. Deep Your Feet in the Water and Keep Going
As part of a business planning strategy, large companies take large risks which involve conducting exhaustive research before implementation takes place. As a small business owner, that is an expensive project to embark on, and you don’t need it.
You can develop “tactical hypothetic” strategies for small business and test the market by proposing to r friends, members of your business network, or people who have expertise in the area. You can also seek the help of your business coach and mentor, find out the best way to breakthrough.