Hope is NOT a strategy!
I first heard this statement from a sales manager many years ago. At that time, he was referring to my "unfounded belief" that certain prospects in my sales pipeline would "buy" soon enough to allow me to hit my sales quota and as a result of this "unfounded belief" my lack of prospecting to keep my sales pipeline full. He was right!
So, what's your strategy? The American Heritage Dictionary defines STRATEGY as "A plan of action resulting from strategy or intended to accomplish a specific goal."
Unfortunately, many people wake up on January 1, fingers crossed, just hoping by chance they will do as much in sales, profits or income as they did the previous year. There is no plan of action to accomplish a specific sales, profit, income or other goal. And just as unfortunately, many of those same people (business owners and employees) just get by year to year with no considerable gains and nothing more than a JOB. By the way, JOB is Brian Tracy's acronym for Just Over Broke.
Instead, why not put together a strategic plan that includes goal setting with both long term and short term goals, as well as the priorities that you must complete in order to achieve those goals? A plan that includes opportunities that you can capitalize on because of your strengths and one that identifies threats to guard against because of your weaknesses. A plan that addresses what to do and as a result, what not to do. A plan that aligns all of your team and eliminates disconnected initiatives. A plan that helps determine what capital projects you will invest in and when, as well as one that stops counterproductive, expensive, money-losing practices. A plan whose overall purpose is improving your competitiveness and achieving your long term goals. But most importantly, a plan that doesn't just sit on a shelf collecting dust, but one that gets you into action doing the most important tasks that move you toward your goals!
By the way, whether it's for a business or your life, the parts of a strategic plan are the same. The difference? In strategic planning for business, you are identifying ways to get your greatest "ROE" or "Return On Equity." In personal strategic planning, you are identifying ways to get your greatest "ROE" or "Return On Energy." In either case, it's about achieving your goals faster and more efficiently. In other words, saving you time and money!
In my experience, a strategic plan has at least the following parts:
- Values: What are the values, principles or beliefs that you operate your life or business by? That is, how do you believe is the "right" way to act or behave in business and life? Can you encapsulate these values in a sentence? Can you and your team tell stories that demonstrate how you are living up to your values?
- Vision: What is your overarching purpose or vision for your life or your company? What do you want to be when you grow up over the next 3, 5, 10 or 20 years? You might call this your BHAG, Big Hairy Audacious Goal. A phrase coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book "Built to Last."
- Goals: What are the targets you are shooting for in the next 3-5 years, 1 year and 3 months? These might be revenue goals, profit goals, personal income goals, debt reduction goals, etc.
- Priorities: What specific actions will you need to take this quarter, this year, over the next 3-5 years to ensure you achieve your goals and Vision? In my experience, you can only accomplish a handful (3-5) of meaningful things in a given time period.
- Measures: What will you measure? That is, what key metrics will you focus on to ensure you are living your values and moving toward your vision, goals and priorities from day to day?
- Accountability: WHO is going to do WHAT by WHEN?