Lets face it … if you’re in business, you need a plan.
You did create some type of business plan before you set up shop, didn’t you? If not, I highly recommend you do so. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Great! Now that you have a plan, let’s talk about some of the components of that plan. Let’s talk about strategies and tactics.
I’m sure “strategic” and “strategy” are not words you use in everyday conversation. (Heck, I can barely even spell it.) Yet, your success depends upon learning and applying the concept. Let’s first talk about what it means. Here’s my working definition of a strategy:
A long-term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often winning.
I doubt you started freelancing or went into business for yourself to fail. So “winning” in the business world requires both strategic and tactical planning.
Business consultants draw a distinction between the qualities of a manager and those of a leader, because it’s rare that one person will posses the qualities of both. In other words, managers seldom make good leaders, and vice-versa. Managers are primarily concerned with “doing things right,” and Leaders are concerned with “doing the right things.” The first is Tactical thinking. The second is Strategic thinking. The first is Management, and the second is Leadership. In a nutshell, Leadership is about creating the vision, and Management is about implementing the vision.
When I was a kid, Dad was big on “setting goals,” and was always telling me that I needed to have some. What he failed to teach me was big picture, strategic thinking. How could I set a goal when I didn’t know where I wanted to go? Having a goal without a strategy is like trying to buy an airline ticket without a destination in mind. Just go somewhere, already!
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where…” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“…so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.
Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” But what we’re aiming for is action based on a strategic, long-term plan—doing the right things and doing them right.
It my next article, I’ll give you some practical examples of what that looks like.
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.