Some great TV comedy moments were achieved during the David Letterman shows when he did the top ten lists. Some examples were: “Top ten least popular Broadway Shows: #10, Oprah-homa! ,” “Top ten least-loved Christmas Stories: #9, The Sweatiest Angel ,“ and “Top ten courses for athletes at SMU: #10 Subtraction: Addition’s Tricky Pal.”
Letterman’s writers and producer must have had a strategy when creating this idea, just like a business owner should have a strategic plan when running a business. If you are a small business owner without a strategic plan, here are the top five (not ten, because we’re on a budget, here) reasons why you should have one:
- Businesses without a plan probably lack a purpose: Why does your business exist? Just to make money doesn’t cut it. Sure, we are in business to make money, but each business must also have a purpose. This purpose should infuse all business practices and should be obvious to clients. For example, if your business purpose is to bring integrated wireless technology to small businesses at an affordable price, your prospects must know that.
- Businesses without a plan probably lack a vision: Instead of dream, strategize. Dreaming is a vision with no road to the rainbow. Strategy is dreaming using realistic facts concerning yourself and your industry.
- Businesses without a plan probably lack a direction: You may think you know where you are going, but can you imagine where your business will be in ten or twenty years? Small business owners usually cannot see past the end of the month, or worse, past the next pay date. You may have a vision, but there are four horizons. Which horizon are you moving toward?
- Businesses without a plan probably lack a culture which supports change: Owners cannot change a company unilaterally. They need to foster a culture that flexes with change in the direction of the vision. If business owners cannot design a plan, they cannot communicate it to their employees, and therefore, they cannot execute it.
- Businesses without a plan probably lack meaningful tactics: If you don’t know where you are going, any tactics you establish will get you there. Businesses usually focus on tactics (how to do something), as opposed to strategy (where they are going). Therefore, the tactics are set up in a void. Just doing things, like increasing your advertising budget, is not strategic planning. There are many steps you must place together before implementing your tactics and establishing your metrics to measure them.
Small business owners must go through their own top 5 (or 10) lists when creating their strategic plans. If they don’t, the end result with be like a joke without a punch line.
(Reprinted from Money for Lunch–September 16, 2014)