If you run a small to medium size business, I’m betting you spend a bucketload of time thinking about cashflow. About debtors, inventory and bank balance. About this month’s number, about the 3-6 month sales pipeline. About staffing levels ,engagement and effectiveness. About juggling the tactical, the urgent and reactive. About getting the bills paid and doing enough to keep the business motor running.
I bet you think a lot about these things, well before you’re thinking about the longer-term health and future direction of the business. You undoubtedly know there are swirling dustclouds on the horizon of your market (cloaking opportunities and obscuring monsters), and you know it’s imperitive to be the long-game leader that thinks and plans for these changes. But it’s challenging, because the short-term stuff is so loud, so compelling and, well, if you don’t get it right, there might not even BE a tomorrow for the business.
Few SMEs invest much time in strategic planning, review and recalibration processes. I’m not talking once-every-five-year sessions or the Partners annual retreat down at the beach or ensuring the sales team have sales plans. I mean the biggest cheeses you have regularly casting a critical eye over reasonably high-level, rolling, scored priorities and action plans aligned with the Purpose. The skyline view of your vehicle’s course and the market it’s trundling across, taken in with a diligent cadence and moved upon when needed. It’s something Fortune 500 C-suite-ers do, but as Chief Cook and occasional Bottle Washer in an SME, it’s much tougher to regularly tear yourself away from the ovens that fire your business engines to do something that mightn’t impact today’s till take.
I think that’s changing.
No, I know it's changing. I see it daily. It's fast change.
And I think the change is just at the start of the curve.
Because your advantages are changing.
Your competition is changing.
What customers value from you is changing.
The risk of doing same ol’, same ol’ is changing.
If you’re an SME and you haven’t recently invested the time to look widely and think deeply about what the shifting dunes of your sector mean for how you’ll make a quid in the years ahead…. then you’re in the poacher’s cross hairs.
If you’ve not imagined terms like “disruptive”, “innovation”, “evolution” or “revolution” next to your business name, or your customers, or your offerings, then you’re a street behind the dudes down the street who’ve thought about it for you… for them.
And if your Strategic Plan is old and dusty, or you don’t have one, or you don't use it or you don’t think it applies to SMEs… then you’re in deep strife, my friend.
On July 1st, Strategy Road will open its doors. It wants to help organisations, and particularly SMEs, ensure they have great strategy. ("Great strategy"? For next time...)
An EOFY plea. Don’t let busy, operational and delivering, get in the way of taking a regular Captain's bridge view. Both function sets are vital in SMEs. One of them, you’re already nailing. Maybe the second needs another look...