According to leading economists the recession ended in June of 2009. Has your company noticed any improvement yet?
These are tough times, in particular here in the Midwest. To get your business back on track you can’t afford to sit back hoping for good old times to return. You have to take charge and develop a strategy that set the road map for your business. Expecting different results from the same old approach to business does not work. You have to embrace change, fundamentally rethink your business, and set a new course.
Too many companies dependent on the automotive industry failed to see the fundamental, structural changes taking place in their industry. GM’s market share has been declining for more than twenty years. Suppliers that are only now beginning to think about diversification and reducing their dependence on the automotive industry are far behind the curve. Why couldn’t they see the trend earlier? Why didn’t they change before it was too late?
What is happening in your industry right now? What’s going on among your customers, competitors and suppliers? What trends are you seeing? What are the possible impacts on your business, short-term and long-term?
In a strong economy it’s relatively easy for a business to grow. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats”. But achieving significant growth is a lot harder in a slow economy, let alone a recession.
You can’t afford to sit back and wait for the tide to turn. You have to take the initiative and make bold, smart business decisions, not just to keep your business alive, but to achieve growth. You have to have a sound strategy for moving your business to the next level.
This is where the difference becomes clear between leadership and management, between strategic thinking and day-to-day operational, tactical thinking.
Smart, open-minded leaders don’t wait for consensus in the marketplace. They don’t wait for competitors to pave the way. Smart companies are aware of the dynamics in their industry. They know what customers want and understand their own strengths and capabilities. They have deep knowledge of their competitors and what they’re up to. Smart companies lead; they make their own decisions and don’t follow the herd.
Proactive companies set a course that is unique for their business. They don’t just seize new opportunities, they create them. It is about making smarter, better business decisions to beat (better yet, avoid) the competition. Are you creating your company’s future?
Do you a strategic plan in place that clearly spells out which markets to pursue, how to differentiate from the competition and why?
Many managers run their business with an operational, day-to-day mindset. While barely adequate during good times, this approach can be downright self-defeating during bad times. A new mindset needs to be adopted that’s based on deep knowledge of the marketplace, an understanding of what the future may look like, and having the courage and conviction to set a new course. You can’t wait for things to happen.
It’s important to develop a strategic mindset and start thinking in terms of ‘what if’. Make Strategic Thinking part of your business DNA. As a business executive your main responsibility is strategic decision making, setting the direction and defining goals and objectives.
To be fair, operational management and solid execution are very important. The best strategy is meaningless unless properly implemented. But you won’t achieve success unless you have a sound, carefully thought-out strategic plan and a vision that help your company navigate through a very dynamic, competitive marketplace with demanding customers and smart, aggressive competitors.
A structured, properly conducted Strategic Planning process forces you to gather information, find out what’s going on in the marketplace and identify the opportunities and threats. Strategic Planning let’s you explore and evaluate options, identify and seize the best growth opportunities for your business.
And above all, don’t forget that Strategic Planning is a process, not an event. Strategic Planning is not an annual off-site at the local country club. Strategic thinking is a mindset. Think bold, think big.
Good luck with your business endeavors.