I am currently trying to set up a small dairy farm next to my farming operation. A few mistakes into the project, I again was reminded of how important a plan usually is. I immediately related this to all facets of entrepreneurship (and life etc).
We all agree that ‘long term thinking’ is far better than short term. Strategic thinking is better than tactical thinking. In fact, some people would venture far enough to suggest that there should be no thinking at the ‘tactical’ end at all (think automated assembly lines!).
If you want to build an online empire that rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, you need to have strategy. That strategy will dictate the tactics. I made more than 250 dollars TWICE with an ‘investment’ of less than 50 dollars. Now what I did and how I did it had NOTHING to do with Strategy. It was ALL tactics. That is why I am not making those 250 bucks per month right now. It was an experiment (a successful one at that, by God’ Grace). I did not have a strategy in place for myself, I was just copying someone elses’ strategy. My lack of strategy was somewhat deliberate as, like I said, it was an experiment in earning online. But a general lack of strategy is where most entrepreneurs fail; thinking that a set of tactics is good enough.(For the naysayers: the above two experiments are very much scalable; I spent 50 dollars because that is what I had to ‘test’. If I had 5,000 dollars to ‘spare’, the returns would have been proportional, limited only by the traffic that I was pulling in).
Strategy takes you (to the right) places
Remember to ‘know’ where is it that you want to go. By ‘knowing’ I do not mean exact specifics (as that are limiting) but a general idea as to where you ought to be. It is like you are at the airport, and you are heading for New York. That much information is enough to take you where you are going, and you won’t end up in the plane heading to California. But if you say ‘I want to go to the US of A’ then California or Miami would be the ‘right’ destination. Think about it for a minute.
Tactics is (the all-too-friggin-important) action
The problem is that I come across way too much literature that insists that action is the cornerstone of success. They are right, but that is only half the information. There is a difference between smart work and hard work, and strategy is what differentiates between the two. You may climb the tallest tree in the forest only to find out that you were not supposed to climb the tallest tree. Action is very, very important. Without it, way too many of us have achieved old age with a heavy heart that pleads “what if…”.
The Price You May (robs you completely sometimes)
I know a friend who started a magazine (offline, with paper and everything). His plan was to do everything himself. No surprises there; he was cash strapped and he was the CEO, the Marketing Director, Editor and Accounting Clerk all wrapped in one. That is how most big companies started. But he had no strategy to separate these ‘systems’ at a later date. In fact, like many entrepreneurs, he considered his overworked day as being a clear sign that he is ‘working hard’. He was working hard for sure, but he was not working smart. It took only one cash crunch (that any business WILL FACE more than once) to make him go look for and then find a job. Soon his magazine missed an issue (it was monthly) and before you know it, his dreams of having a publishing empire were boxed away.
Separating tasks for your business should be part of your strategy. You may not need to write it all down and be way-too-strict about it, but nonetheless, a separation of job roles is ESSENTIAL for any business to have a CHANCE of being long-lasting.
Isn’t Action Supreme?
In most cases, no. I can imagine people frowning:
wait a minute, everyone tellin’ me to GET UP and do it! And you want me to continue my analysis paralysis?
If whosoever is telling you to get up and do what he is telling you to do, if that person is good enough, he is probably telling you to do what he is laying out in front of you. He is giving you the strategy to put into action. He is giving you the plan. For example, my post on “How to Start a Blog” is a blueprint (strategy) for you to act upon (tactics).
Consider, you won’t dream of digging up a plot without making sure that is how the architect has envisioned it. Then why are YOU jumping into whatever you are jumping into WITHOUT having a blueprint?
So what is you strategy, your plan for your work? Your home? Your life? And here is the gazillion dollar question (wth? gazillion is actually a word? no red underlining, huh?)…anyways, the gazillion dollar question is that if highly-respected people and organizations are putting SO MUCH importance on a strategy for their business, should YOU have one for your life itself?
Here’s an ‘actionable’ item for you: go write (and/or reconsider) your ‘life strategy’ for yourself right this minute. Just get up and do it. It will take no more than 15 minutes to write down things you’d want to do. It is ALL uphill from there onwards, but uphill is good if you enjoy hiking. (if you don’t enjoy hiking, you will learn, as you always do)