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Make Time for Strategic Planning

By: Rick Gossett




Running your business is an exhausting, all-day-every-day enterprise. You have so many things to do—from the central task of finding more customers to the ins and outs of day-to-day operations. And it’s especially true for a small business, where you don’t have a huge staff of people to spread the tasks around. With so much to do, how do you make time for strategic planning?

Small business entrepreneurs must have a plan. No matter how smart you are, a plan will give direction to your activities, helping you focus toward specific goals instead of performing a multitude of unrelated activities that might counteract one another. Your business actions should be working together.

Les Trachtman, an experienced entrepreneur and COO at Force 3, described how he found that many entrepreneurs don’t make enough time for strategic thinking and planning. Without strategic planning, he says, “You might be working day and night and wake up one day to realize, perhaps painfully, that the business or life you set out to create is headed straight off a cliff.”

He offers five tips to help improve your strategic planning:

Put Your Goals in Writing

When your goals are written down, it makes them tangible. You can make decisions based on them and check your progress against them. You should also revisit them quarterly, Mr. Trachtman suggests.

Set Priorities

When you’re setting goals, you’re not just deciding what you will do. You’re also deciding what things you won’t do. Find which things are most important, and focus on those, without letting lower priorities burn you out.

Make Strategic Planning a Major Part of Your Day

Mr. Trachtman actually suggests dedicating 50 percent of your time to strategic planning when you are the boss. Whatever percentage you want to try for, keep a timesheet so that you can see just how you are spending your time—and how much time you are actually putting toward planning.

Plan for Multiple Outcomes

When you are planning for the future, you need to consider lots of different alternatives. What would you do if x happens? What about if y happens? Z? “Have a back-up plan and an alternative to the back-up,” Mr. Trachtman recommends.

Join an Accountability Group

A CEO roundtable or a forum of fellow small business owners is a great way to get help and insight. You can talk about your plans – and the way you do your planning – with people who are doing the same thing, and they can hold you accountable to actually follow through on those plans.
Published: December 17, 2012

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Rick Gossett

As COO of Tarkenton Companies for more than 20 years, Rick has been responsible for business software development, unique partnerships, business educational content and consulting, and more. Rick was the originator of Tarkenton Companies’s consulting service and initially handled all of the questions himself. Prior to joining Tarkenton Companies, Rick owned and operated a private practice as a CPA. Prior to that, he was a Senior Manager at Pannell Kerr Forster in tax and audit, as well as Principal in Ernst & Young's small business advisory group.

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