Walk into any meeting, corporate retreat or planning session and the No. 1 thing business owners need and want is strategy – a strategy for increasing leads, closing sales, creating marketing plans, developing your team and fixing it all.

When you talk to any business owner about what is not working in their business, they will tell you they don’t have a strategy for ____ (fill in the blank).

The problem with strategy is, if you don’t have the determination, discipline and commitment to carry it out in good times and bad, the strategy is irrelevant. Almost every consultant and program out there is selling strategy, and no matter what your problem is, the solution is strategy.

Yes, strategy is critical in reaching goal. But strategy is usually among the last steps for reaching your goals – no matter if that goal is weight loss, increased revenue or an exit plan. When I think about every business buying decision I made – be it a coach, a marketing consultant, an event or a program in a box – I bought it because it had a strategy behind it. Step by step or esoteric, it really didn’t matter.

In our opinion, you need to begin with the end in mind and back into strategy instead of starting from strategy. A path to the strategic plan:

  1. Agreement: Schedule a 90-minute think tank meeting with all parties involved, from the receptionist to the owner. Share your vision and values and where you ultimately would like to end up. Don’t get in the weeds of how, what, where and when. Stick to the why and what’s in it for them (high level). Enroll them, get their feedback and input, and ultimately their agreement. Once you have buy-in and agreement, think all hands in the middle with “go team,” then hands in the air. When you have that, and NOT UNTIL you have that, you can move onto Step 2.
  2. Accountability: After you get to “let’s do it!” then decide in that same meeting who will be the leader, foreman and project manager of all the moving pieces (strategic) and hold everyone accountable. Without an accountability foreman, the plan will fall flat.
  3. Communication: When will you meet to check in on the strategic plan, what date/time and for how long? We recommend weekly, no less than 30 minutes. There needs to be a huddle to move things forward, to find out where people are jammed up and where they need help. One small step at a time. Without consistent communication, you will find yourself with a big problem instead of a weekly 2 millimeter shift.
  4. KPIs: Determine upfront what key performance indicators (KPI) you are going to set up. Take measurements each week that demonstrate how effectively you are achieving your key business objectives. Design them to evaluate success in processes/workflow in sales, marketing, production and client services (front desk call center).
  5. Strategy: NOW you can move on to your strategic plan. Schedule a half day, off-site. Schedule this quarterly, without fail. This should include every person in the office, from the receptionist to the CEO. Most companies make the mistake of just having the “C-level” team in the room. Now you can brainstorm and whiteboard and hear from all departments on what needs intentional focus from the perspectives of lead generation, lead conversion, revenue, infrastructure and client experience.

We sadly have seen it happen too many times to count over the past 21 years. At the very root of every partnership breakup, employee turnover or unsuccessful marketing launch is this one mistake: The sole focus is on strategy, and strategy first. Strategy is the very thing that is killing your business if you don’t have a solid foundation, upfront agreements, consistent communication and weekly KPI measurements and, most importantly, the freedom to abandon the strategy and change course. Growth is not a strategy. Success is not a strategy. Growth and success are a strategic by-product of a collective effort of clarity, connection and consistent communication in the name of collaboration vs. goal.

If you are ready to get started on a path toward strategy, join our Team Empowerment Academy geared towards business growth, efficiency and long term success.

Molly Hall