Lesson 3: Building a Strategic Mindset

What You’ll Learn: Building a successful business requires a strategic mindset that allows you to see the big picture and make decisions that will benefit your business over the long term.

This module will help you gain the skills you need to see your business from a different perspective and act strategically.

Building a Strategic Mindset (continued)

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

It’s easy to become distracted in business, particularly in the beginning. Everything has a sense of urgency and importance. But you have to be careful not to fall into a fire drill mode. You’ll always feel like you have to catch up when, in fact, you should be ahead of it all.

First, understand that there will always be problems. As a leader, you need to focus on the ones that move your strategic vision ahead, such as those that save you time, increase efficiency, save money or add to your bottom line or market share. Anything else is merely busyness, not business.

Everything you become involved in should move you toward your ultimate goals. Your entire strategy tracks back to these, as should the work you do every day in your business.

Continuously ask and answer this question: “What is the most valuable thing I can do today to execute our strategy and move us toward our ultimate goal?” Everything else can potentially be delegated to others or put on the back burner.

You never want to be so focused on the moment that you end up in a reactionary cycle. Once you are reacting and not acting, you’ll find it hard, if not impossible, to think strategically.

Focus On Solutions

Problems are inevitable and it’s easy to become mired in them. If you’ve freed up your time to think strategically, you may be able to head off a lot of problems because you can see them coming. Even if you are momentarily caught off guard, you can still put solutions in place because you’ve already considered multiple possibilities and outcomes.

Spending time focusing on what’s wrong and why is a total waste of time and energy. You want to address the problem, find the correct solution, implement it and move on. If a problem can’t be fixed, then ask why? If you are in a strategic frame of mind, an answer that is not obvious may readily present itself because you are open to new ideas, not hunkered down, weathering the storm before you.

It is in these moments that a trusted circle of advisers can come in handy. They may be able to quickly address the problem from an entirely different direction. Resist the temptation to think you know best. That’s pride and ego talking. If you can’t solve the problem near term, call in others to provide you with options. Ask them how they would approach the problem and what they would propose as the next steps. Sometimes talking things out will quickly bring the right solution to the forefront.

Open Yourself to Risk

One of the advantages of building a strategic mindset is that you can make decisions at a higher level. You aren’t always in panic mode or making quick decisions about little things. Instead, you are making decisions that carry more risk – but more potential – as you think about your business strategically.

Sheepish goals and risk-averse decision-making won’t help you achieve your goals. You need to set aggressive goals and map out an equally aggressive strategic plan to reach them. This will help you drive higher performance from your team because you’re all moving in the same direction. It’s O.K. to pilot things that carry an inordinate amount of risk. That’s just smart business. But there are also times when you need to roll the dice and take a chance if you’re going to reach your targets for growth.