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Last year, the goal of my agency was to speak with 100 entrepreneurs and business owners.

The industries ranged from health and fitness to specialty foods; real estate to solid waste; and wedding planning to personalized calligraphy. And two food trucks!

More than 500 hours was spent in one-on-one conversation with people passionate about their business. Each of these individuals expressed one unified frustration: what do I do next?

They all had an idea of where they wanted to go, but lacked the vision to see what step to take next. They imagined their business expanding, hiring employees, utilizing social media better to capture new customers, improving their brand awareness, or cementing their core values. Some were looking to be acquired and others were just starting.

Some struggled to articulate the current state of their business; unable to quantify the value of a customer. Some ran head-first into terrible business contracts promising the exposure of being in a national store – but undercutting their financials. Some went out of business waiting for the next big thing – the inability to make a decision caused their business to shutter.

The theme remained: What do we do next?

It frustrates me to see business owners in this predicament. Watching life-savings dry up, watching relationships be ruined, seeing a dream die.

This all stems from a lack of strategy.

Ready, Fire, Aim!” is the approach of many businesses, regardless of size or industry. But it is a terrible approach. One that is more expensive than we budgeted, takes more time than we planned.

Strategy, on the other hand, is the ability to look at the horizon and chart a course. Similar to looking at a map before setting out on a road trip.

Without a strategy, or guide directing your journey, companies are unable to answer the following:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where are we going?
  • How are we getting there?
  • How will we know when we are there?
  • What do we need to be aware of on our trip?

In the coming days, I will be outlining not only why strategy is imperative for your business, but also what a good business and marketing strategy looks like. What elements are contained within a healthy strategy. And how to avoid the risks associated without one.

Additionally, I will address how a strategic plan needs to be viewed as an investment, and the dangers of ignoring your strategic intent.

My hope is some readers are encouraged by the progress they have made as an organization. I know some will feel threatened or afraid of entering those uncharted waters. But, in the end, I hope that it inspires every reader to take action.

To be clear: This is the year I am focusing solely on strategic consultation. My 2018 mission is to help 52 business define their marketing strategy and to hold them accountable to their self-defined goals.

These “self-defined goals” are not my imposed goals, they are the goals defined by the client; used to inform the strategy, which is used to chart the course for the business.

No more mindlessly bobbing around the ocean waiting for something cool to happen. Instead, business owners, leaders, and founders need to take charge and define where the organization is going.

Let’s do this.

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