Small Business Time & Strategy: How to have both.

Your Small Business: Strategy And Time. How To Have Both.

Strategic planning for small business owners means taking time for strategy—and getting time back from it.

There’s an interesting relationship between strategy and time.

On the one hand, strategy requires you to devote some time to it. On the other hand, having a strategy gives you back time. And time is the most precious resource most of us have. 

In this article we’ll talk about developing your small business strategy, why and how to strategize, and how to make time for it now to save yourself time down the road.

What is strategy?

Simply stated, strategy is making sure your goals, actions and resources all match up. What is it you want to achieve this year—what’s the end game? What do you need to do to achieve it? And what do you need to have to achieve it? It all needs to line up and make sense.

Spending time and getting it back.

If you’re wondering whether your small business needs a strategy, the answer is yes. Businesses and organizations of any kind need a strategy. Why? Because having a strategy—and following it—will get you where you want to go more efficiently. 

Here’s where getting back more time comes in. If you’re working more efficiently, that means you’re getting more meaningful work done in less time. Following a strategy saves you time because it helps you identify and focus on what’s important, not just what’s urgent.

And if you’re focused on what really matters to achieve your endgame – rather than on the time-consuming but less important tasks that are right in front of your face – you will find you have more time to think strategically. 

It’s all well and good to say it’s important to put the time in to develop a small business strategy. But making time for it can be surprisingly difficult. A survey of 10,000 senior execs found that 97% said the most important leadership behavior is being strategic.1 However, another survey shows 96% of leaders say they don’t have time for it.1 So if you struggle to set aside the time to develop a strategy, you’re in good company.

Remember those time-consuming but less important tasks that are right in front of your face? They keep you very busy. And being very busy looks and feels productive. But if you can break the mental link between the two ideas of busyness and productivity, something really good happens. You start to get some time back.

Ways to strategize.

Once you’ve set aside some time for strategic thinking, here are some ways to go about it.

Try thinking about your business at varying degrees of granularity. Start with a big panoramic view, and then zoom in to a detailed close-up. The panoramic view gives you the comprehensive look at the big picture you’ll need to detect patterns, interdependencies, and cause-and-effect. The close-up shows you fine details. Try to see both perspectives and develop the ability to switch between them fluidly.

Two other ways to develop effective strategies for your small business are divergent and convergent thinking. The website ceo.com explains it this way: “Divergent thinking imagines the future, any possibility, in any direction and deliberately diverges from the conventional while suspending criticism and judgment; the result is an abundance of ideas, even wild ones.” 2

“Convergent thinking narrows down options to one or more preferred choices through analysis, criticism, logic, argument and reasoning; less attractive possibilities are eliminated in order to choose and create a path forward.” 2

Divergent thinking is a terrific exercise for determining your end; that is, your business goal. Convergent thinking helps you think about the ways and means—the actions and resources it’s going to take to achieve the end.

Strategic planning for your small business is essential to your success, so take the time to develop your strategy. Also take the time to revisit your strategy regularly to make sure it’s still relevant and that you’re still following it. And remember, strategy will pay you back in the currency of time.

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