Find Time for Strategic Planning
As a business owner, you know that it’s easy to spend nearly every working hour on the multitude of day-to-day tasks and crises that never seem to end. Although it may be difficult to find time to address, an essential component for you company’s survival is strategic planning.
Lost in the Weeds
Many business owners put off strategic planning for a variety of reasons. For example, new initiatives usually don’t begin to show tangible results for some period of time, which can prove to be frustrating. But perhaps the most significant hurdle is the thought that strategic planning is a time-sucking luxury that takes an owner’s focus off the more immediate challenges directly in front of them.
Although operational activities are obviously necessary to keep your company running, they’re not enough to keep it moving forward and evolving. Accomplishing the latter requires strategic planning. Without planning, you can get lost in the weeds, working constantly yet blindly, only to look up one day to find your business teetering on the edge of a cliff — whether because of a tough new competitor, imminent product or service obsolescence, or some other development that you didn’t see coming.
Quality vs. Quantity
So how much time should you and your management team devote to strategic planning? There’s no universal answer. Some experts say a CEO should spend only 50% of his or her time on daily operations, with the other half going to strategy — a breakdown that may be unrealistic for some.
The emphasis of strategic planning should be placed on quality rather than quantity. Whatever the number of hours you decide to spend on strategic planning, that time should be dedicated solely for plotting the future of your company. Block off your schedule, choose a designated and private place (such as a conference room), and give it your undivided attention. Make time for strategic planning just as you would for tending to an important customer relationship.
Time Well Spent
Effective strategic planning calls for not only identifying the right business-growing initiatives, but also regularly re-evaluating and adjusting them as circumstances change. Thus, strategizing should be part of your weekly or monthly routine — not just as a “once in a while, as is convenient” activity. You may need to delegate several of your current operational tasks to open up time to make strategic planning part of your routine, but in the long run, it will be time well spent.