Working on the Business – Strategic Planning Can Help You Sleep at Night

strategic planning

A fellow business owner or professional has probably asked you: “Are you working in the business, or on it?” If you haven’t, let this article introduce you to that question. The idea is that if business owners don’t survey the landscape from time to time, they are sure to “be kept up at night”. Many executives are kept up at night worrying about challenges that were, in fact, foreseeable and avoidable, had they taken the time to work on the business. It’s all about dedicating enough time for strategic planning and assessing.

The daily demands of running a business and satisfying the needs of customers, clients, vendors and employees, can leave us with little strategic planning time. However, we can – and should – delegate most of these tasks to others, allowing for more critical thinking time in our management approach. Working in the business means being overwhelmed by the day-to-day minutiae. Working on the business means taking the time to strategically plan for the big picture.

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Making time to think about the long-term strategy to grow your business, expand your client base and enhance your financial resources is challenging but necessary. In his book Against the Gods, Peter L. Bernstein discusses “possible and probable risks”. Possible risks are the ones that obviously could happen, including “tail events” or so-called “black swans”; probable risks encompass the more likely real-world anticipatable risks that we need to construct a game plan to meet head-on.

Dedicating time to long-term and strategic planning, and assessing the risks and barriers to success is hard work; work easily put off under the guise of having so much else to do. Which is why every business leader should consider working with an unbiased, experienced business coach. Much like a physical fitness coach, you can set objectives and a time horizon on which to achieve the results. Having scheduled time dedicated to assess the future and develop plans is a great way to ensure that part of your time is truly focused on “working on the business”. Your coach’s role in part is to hold you accountable to use that time effectively towards achieving your big picture goals.