Nearly 90% of businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), lack a well-defined business strategy. A similar number of these businesses fail. The two most commonly cited reasons for this lack of strategy are being too busy to make time, and that there isn't enough funding to hire a consultant in order to ease the time pressures.
These businesses might be trying to ramp up, or capture more business and leads on a rolling basis, and think they are doing okay. The odds, however, are not in their favor, if they do not make the time ad allocate the resources to become more strategic in all their efforts.
The Excuse of Busyness
The idea that businesses are too busy to create a strategy is the most prevalent misconception. Many companies get entangled in the daily grind, believing they don't have the time for strategic planning. Candidly, many of them, if they had to admit it, are pretty sure their busyness is proof they really don’t need a strategy written down. After all, they have all the work they can handle! However, this short-term and short-sighted rationalization hinders sustainable growth and innovation.
Why it's an excuse:
Time Allocation: No time for strategy? How do you know? If you can’t get all the things done or you are overwhelmed by your efforts, then you likely are lacking a strategic approach that could help you. Crafting a business strategy doesn't have to be a lengthy, time-consuming endeavor. By dedicating just a few hours or days to strategic planning, businesses can define their goals, priorities, and actionable steps.
Efficiency Boost: A clear strategy can actually save time in the long run by streamlining operations, reducing inefficiencies, and aligning your own or your team's efforts towards common objectives.
Adaptability: No strategy drains your energy and your focus on what is most important. Ultimately, no strategy is even more time-consuming than creating one—by far. Reacting to situations without a plan results in a never-ending cycle of crisis management and hinders the development and achievement of any long-term goals.
The Misconception of Cost
Even if a business accepts that not having time is no longer an excuse, another common excuse for not having a business strategy is the cost of hiring a consultant. While consultants can do some of the heavy lifting in order to save time, and help avoid missteps, so an effective strategy is in place quickly, we are certainly not the only path to strategy development.
Why it's an excuse:
DIY Strategy: In today's digital age, there are numerous resources and tools available to guide businesses in developing their strategies. One of those is my own Goals & Strategy Mastery Course. Affordable ones, like mine, or even free online courses, templates, and books on strategy development can empower business owners to create their strategies.
Team Collaboration: SMEs can leverage their team's collective intelligence. Involving employees in the strategy development process reduces costs and fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the plan.
Gradual Approach: Strategy development doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Businesses can start with a basic strategy and refine it progressively as their resources and financial situation improve.
The Real Dangers of Neglecting a Business Strategy
Now that we've dismantled these limiting beliefs, let's explore the genuine dangers of not having a business strategy:
Stagnation: Without a clear strategic direction, a business risks becoming stagnant, unable to adapt to market changes, and losing its competitive edge.
Inefficient Resource Allocation: In the absence of a strategy, resources may be wasted on activities that don't align with the overall objectives, hindering growth and profitability.
Missed Opportunities: Businesses without a strategy may overlook potential opportunities for expansion, innovation, and market penetration.
Weakened Resilience: When facing unexpected challenges, businesses with a strategy are better equipped to navigate and recover, while those without a plan may face significant setbacks.
The reality is that businesses of all sizes can benefit from strategic planning, and there are various accessible and cost-effective resources available to guide the process.
Neglecting a business strategy can be exhausting and frustrating at best, and a business-killer at its worst. The great news is that your strategy doesn't have to be perfect from the start; it should evolve with your business, adapting to changes and opportunities. So, take the first step today, and don't let these false beliefs hold you back from achieving your full potential.