Building a successful business takes strategy. It involves planning, factoring in the ‘what ifs’ considering the ‘whys’ and altering course when the need arises.

But often strategy falls by the wayside because business leaders are so caught up in the day-to-day running of an enterprise that they cannot remain attuned to the big picture.

It’s a common and occasionally dire mistake that can quickly see you and your business floundering and lost for direction.

With that in mind, here’s a guide to becoming more strategic in business.

What is ‘being strategic’ anyway?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘strategy’ is defined as a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

That means taking a strategic approach involves considering the big picture, including the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ of what your business is seeking to achieve, not just the ‘hows’ of daily operations.

It’s about knowing where you ultimately want to go and charting a course to get there, factoring in your business goals, potential market changes, emerging competition, trends and more.

So let’s delve into exactly how that strategic thinking is achieved.

Understand the big picture

When it comes to becoming strategic, considering the big picture for your business is the first essential step.

This includes factoring in how you intend your business to serve you personally (as in what lifestyle it will afford you) and what you want it to represent to your customers.

The latter determines your business’ position in the marketplace, including the ideal customer that your business is seeking to attract.

When you know the big picture and where and what you want your business to be you can begin to work backwards, defining the strategies and business goals required to get you there. 

Start with the why

The biggest question that underlies all strategic planning is ‘why’? And this ‘why’ plays out in a series of ways.

For example, why do you want to be in business? Why would your customers choose you? Why do you believe it’s important your business embraces the next stage of growth, innovation or transformation?

When you know the key reasons behind what you’re looking to achieve, it creates clarity, and that clarity allows you to implement activities that allow you to get to the next stage.

Ask the tough questions

Why is just the first of the questions you need to ask as you seek to become more strategic about your business.

In fact, being strategic is about asking a whole host of tough questions about the direction and future of your business.

In addition to why, you need to consider:

  • How will the big picture be achieved?
  • How will the success of a strategic decision be measured?
  • Who will be responsible for it?
  • What will happen once that milestone is reached?
  • Whether there’s a better, easier, or more efficient way of achieving that aim?
  • What is the ultimate desired destination?
  • What does business success look like?

Engage your team

Creating a strategic direction for your business cannot occur in isolation. It must involve the team you have around you who are key players in your business operation.

When your entire team considers the strategy and tactics that are needed to take your business from where you are now to where you want to be, it fosters innovation.

More importantly, it creates accountability and allows your entire team to be invested in the process.

Create the plan

Once the overall aim for your business has been established and the tough questions have been answered, it’s time to create the business plan that sets the framework for what you want to do and how you will go about it.

This plan is the map you will refer to in order to ensure you remain on track. It will help you set the goals you need to achieve and create the strategies to do that.

Along the way, it will enable you to measure and manage your progress, tweaking the systems and procedures of your business when required.

Strategy is essential

Strategic thinking is critical to business success. It is the differentiator that allows businesses to evolve, innovate and reinvent when required.

It’s also an area where business owners can often benefit from coaching and support in a bid to look at their business and its potential with a fresh set of eyes.

If you’re considering the strategy for your business moving forward, I’m available to assist.

Talk Strategy with Clive

With more than 30 years’ experience in mentoring small to medium-sized businesses around Australia. Clive works with company owners and their teams to grow their business and achieve goals through strategic coaching.