I’m a big fan of spending time in Algonquin Park. I love the fresh air, portaging and spending a few days away from being connected (proving to be a harder and harder thing to do; especially considering how Algonquin Park is planning on setting up WIFI hotspots throughout!). On one such outing a path had been blocked by falling trees and the decision was made to circle around through the bush and continue on. It didn’t take long to realize that when you’re surrounded by trees just about everything looks the same. It’s nearly impossible to look at the big picture because you’re simply walking from tree to tree, trying to get where you’re going one step at a time.
So a hint to anyone trying to wander the woods like that – it really doesn’t work very well.
It’s interesting though because I see this problem in a lot more places than Algonquin Park. Specifically, I see it with small businesses; primarily when it comes to the owner of the business (I’ve likely been guilty of it myself on many occasions). It’s all too easy to become extremely drilled in to specific problems and avoid having a strategic view of the business. Missing the forest for the trees as it were.
I think this is even more common when you’ve got business owners with technical skills who are responsible for product development. It doesn’t take much to get sucked into a black hole of coding and ignore the larger picture and acknowledge the direction that the business is taking. Sure you need to iron out those bugs, but what strategies do you have in place?
For example, we know an entrepreneur named Jimmy Rustles. Jimmy has developed some web analysis software that he’s running through a SaaS model and he’s starting to gain a few customers. Unfortunately, as Jimmy gains customers the number of bug reports and content suggestions is rising exponentially, causing him to forgo any strategic views of his business as he solely focuses on resolving bugs. Ensuring the software is running properly is absolutely imperative, but by spending all of his time amongst the trees Jimmy is ignoring the rest of his business and lead generation is beginning to slow down.
What are his plans on a marketing strategy going forward now that he’s established himself? As the competition begins to notice Jimmy’s solution, does he have a strategy in place to carve out a market niche for himself? Jimmy is a great coder, but to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be able to focus on a lot more than simple tactical sprints.
This post on smallbusiness.chron.com gives a good, albeit brief, look at some strategic looks that every small business owner should have in mind. What are your long term goals, beyond simply creating a great product and fixing issues one at a time as they arise? Have you developed a solid competitive analysis to understand the market space you’re competing in and where you fit in amongst that competition?
The fact of the matter is a business won’t succeed without a solid strategic view. But neither can a business succeed without tactical goals to run in the short term. The two need to work together in tandem to create a successful business. Take a look at this post from the Web-Strategist on how strategy and tactics should work together to create a well-oiled business.
If anything I hope this post has caused you to stop and think for a moment about the overarching ongoings of your business. It’s extremely easy to get lost amongst the trees, so don’t forget to pause every now and then to update your map.
Guest post by Gareth from Go Cloud Based.