Focus

Strategic Focus

Some people make a big deal about business strategy. The Amazon.com search for books about business strategy is daunting. People do doctoral theses on it, and then they charge huge fees to help huge companies figure out strategy. But this is the real world. Your business. And when you pull it back down out of...


Understand Displacement

Displacement: In the real world of small business, everything you do is something else you can’t do. Understanding displacement is vital for business planning, vital for growing a business, vital for small- and medium-business in particular. Consider the picture here, marbles dropping into a full glass of water. The water comes splashing out of the...


General Principles of Real-World Strategy

In 30 years of working with businesses of all sizes, I’ve come across several of what I would call general principles of strategy. These don’t necessarily apply in the academic world, or for larger corporate enterprises, but they do apply to small and medium businesses everywhere: Strategy is focus. The more priorities in a plan,...


What Knobs Can You Turn?

A good way to keep your planning realistic is to know what knobs you have to turn. For example, say you’re working a tractor trying to dig out a boulder in the middle of your yard or field. What knobs (for controls)┬ádo you have to turn? You have controls to move the tractor forward, move...


Strategy is Tailored to Your Size

Forget finding a strategy for a certain type of business or following somebody else’s strategy. It won’t work. Strategy has to be unique, tailored to your business. You have your own identity, including strengths, weaknesses, goals, core competencies. You have to develop your strategy, for your company. This should be obvious, but some people still...


Remember: Your Plan Is Not Necessarily a Written Document

I want you to use words and numbers written down somewhere to keep track of your plan, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there unless you have it written into a text. It is there if you know it and if your team knows it. Don’t get freaked out by the text, or the writing....


Growth vs. Focus

It is paradoxical. If you stay focused on the key elements of your business, you aren’t looking at new opportunities. That’s one of the reasons that strategy is done by humans, and not by recipes or algorithms. It takes a human to deal with the paradox and complexity. Business strategy often involves tough decisions. Do...


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