what if“The important decisions, the decisions that really matter, are strategic. They involve either finding out what the situation is, or changing it, either finding out what the resources are or what they should be. Among these are all decisions on business objectives and on the means to reach them.” (Peter Drucker, “The Practice of Management”)

Strategy. A term used in the theory of games to describe the set of choices a player will make in each possible set of circumstances. (A Dictionary of Economics)

How an organization interacts with the stakeholders in its business environment through its current and planned portfolio of products in large part defines its business strategy. (Robert J. Thomas, “New Product Development”)

From these varied definitions we see strategy as something that involves identifying where resources are and where they’re needed, and the art of deploying those resources favourably; deciding on business objectives; and above all it is certainly about choices.

My clients have all been able to grow their businesses and in the early years, a lot of this growth is tactical and not strategic. That is, most business owners work very hard in their businesses to drive growth, and they’ve been a key part of that growth.

At some point though, every entrepreneur needs to stop and consider if that is how they wish to continue working and growing their business.

When do business owners mostly start thinking about strategy?
• When they have to make more decisions about resources
• When they have to decide whether to pursue new opportunities
• When they need to make decisions about how big the company could be
• When growth in the business has reached a plateau
• When they’re in trouble
• When they’re overloaded
• When they’re confused
• When they want to fast-track their progress
• When something significant changes their life
• Sometimes, it’s when they have an ‘Aha!’ moment

Challenging circumstances lead most business owners to think about strategy, and then strategy itself can be challenging!

When you’re ready to start developing you business strategy, you need to look at the process from several different aspects:

• Know what stage you’re at and the priorities you need to be focused on at that stage

• If you have a well-established business, it will help your planning focus if you know what is important in building a high-value business

• Know how to select a best-fit marketing strategy, that’s right for now and right for your business (not someone else’s)

• You should be very clear, particularly if you have a relatively new business, on which business model will optimise growth, suit your lifestyle & give you leverage

• Know what skills & structure you need for ongoing growth

Strategic planning starts with questions, as well as gathering information about your own business and clients, your competitors, and the market in which you operate.

To expand your thinking and your options, try asking ‘what if’ questions, for example, ‘what if we wanted to grow five times our current turnover in the next two years…what would need to happen in order to make that possible?’

What-if questions are an extremely powerful tool to shift your perspective and create a whole new set of options and potential growth strategies.