4 Strategic Thinking Tips for Small Business

Small business owners are faced with unique challenges when it comes to scaling. Most entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of managing operations from afar; they’re helping customers, overseeing inventory, reviewing finances, and coaching staff members on a daily basis. This necessary involvement in the everyday happenings of a business can make it difficult to step back and focus on strategy—but strategy is an essential component in scaling your business.
These 4 tips will help you make time for strategic thinking so that you don’t lose sight of the big picture as your work toward immediate goals.

Tip 1: Define Your Vision

All strategy should stem from the ultimate vision for your company. What’s your business’s mission? What are your values? Who do you serve? What makes you unique from your competitors? Pursuing objectives that align with these attributes will help you develop strategies that make sense for your business and your audience.

Tip 2: Make Time to Blue Sky

Make a regular date with yourself to spend some time kicking around blue-sky ideas. This is valuable time where you can take off your pragmatist’s hat for an hour and dream big. It’s easy to shut ideas down when you let your internal budget-wrangler reign over your thoughts; give him or her some time off and let your creativity thrive.

Tip 3: Use Ideas to Drive Action

Once you’ve finished brainstorming, it’s time to put your pragmatist hat back on and look over your ideas. Identify the ones that are viable in the short term, those viable in the long term, and those that are unlikely to happen. Then, take the short-term list and make a plan to put those ideas into action.

Tip 4: Be Accountable

As with any major goal, it helps to have someone to keep you accountable for making progress. Whether it’s your business partner, a mentor, a friend, or a family member, make sure you have someone you can talk to about your strategy, what you’re doing to pursue it now, and what you plan to do in the future to achieve your goals.

The Bottom Line

Guiding your business’s growth with strategic thinking isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes vision, time, creativity, and commitment to develop actionable ideas that will drive successful change. Having a solid strategy that adapts to your goals and the needs of your business and consumers is one of the keys to scaling success. Dig in, think big, and go after your goals!

How to Scale Your Small Business

All big things have small beginnings, including top franchises and corporations. Rapid growth can’t happen without preparation, though. Whether your goal is to ramp up production for your current location or to launch hundreds of locations nationwide, scaling up requires careful planning—and the sooner you start, the smoother your growth process will be.
While every business will scale in a slightly different way based on your industry, region, and offerings, these 5 concepts will help prepare you for the task ahead get you started on the right foot.

Focus on Strategy

Do you need to have a short-term plan in place? Absolutely. Do you need to pitch in on the tactical side to get things done? Of course. But instead of letting yourself get tangled in the weeds, you should always take time to step back and think about the long-term vision for your business. Where do you want to be a year, three years, five years from now? What will you need to do to achieve those goals? Having a strategy in place from the beginning will help you scale quickly and effectively.

Fail Quickly

The start-up world has provided regular businesses with many valuable lessons, one of which is the concept of failing quickly. Being able to test new concepts and assess their viability without investing a ton of time and money is a crucial factor in scaling your business. The sooner you can identify concepts that don’t work, the sooner you can move on to ones that do.

Craft Your Persona

Companies such as Apple, Facebook, Virgin Group, and Berkshire Hathaway are proof that the persona of a business’s CEO has a big impact on the overall perception of the company. Passionate, memorable CEOs attract attention for their business that goes beyond the appeal of their products and services. Conversely, CEOs with notorious reputations can negatively impact their business’s performance, no matter how great their offerings might be. As you build your company, make sure to cultivate the kind of public persona that will benefit both you personally and your business as well.

Hire for the Long Haul

Building a staff from scratch can be a challenge, especially when you’re overworked and in need of immediate help. However, the people you choose to join your team in the early stages of your business should be more than just heads to take work off your overfull plate. Consider how each staff member you hire can play a role in the future of your company and help you achieve your long-term mission. If you create a solid foundation for your team, you’ll be able to build on it rather than ripping it up and starting from scratch later on.

Invest in Key Relationships

In order to scale your business rapidly, you need support, both emotional and financial, from key players in your industry (or from those investing in your industry). Establishing and nurturing those relationships over time will ensure that you have a network of trusted people to go to for mentorship, second opinions, and financial support as you ramp up your business.

The Bottom Line

Scaling your business is all about thinking ahead, which is part of the challenge and reward of being an entrepreneur. While part of your brain needs to focus on the short-term strategic and tactical needs for your business, the larger part should be thinking about the long game—what strategy will take you where you want to go, what offerings and processes will bring your business success, who you want your public persona to be, what kind of people will contribute to your company’s growth, and who will be there to support you along the way.