‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.’
– Lewis Carroll
That little quote from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ speaks directly to the heart of why having a sound business strategy is the most important element on your road to success.
After all, you need to know where you’re going and why you’re going there, before you can determine what path will to take you to your destination. Your goal.
Makes perfect sense and yet experience has shown me that many people get confused about what strategy really is – so their plans get waylaid.
Let me clarify as simply as possible.
Strategy is the overall method you choose to reach your goal, find a solution or solve a problem.
Strategic thinking is your ability to come up with effective plans to do that.
Tactics are the tools you choose to implement your strategic plans.
For example, as small business owners, our prime strategy may be understanding that we can’t be all things to all people. Thinking strategically, we may know that there are differences between us and other small businesses in the same industry. Using strategic thinking, we identify those differences in terms of our customers. What do our customers want that we can do better than other similar businesses? How can we fill that need? Our tactics would create a vehicle to enable customers to see those differences in a way that would make us their hands down favorite.
To give you an idea of how industry leaders leaders look at strategy, think about these 13 quotes from some of the best and brightest, and you’ll see how they used strategic thinking to stand out by creating and building on the unique differences between them and their competition.
- What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you – what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind – you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy.” – Jeff Bezos
- “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. – Michael Porter
- “Without a strategy, an organization is like a ship without a rudder, going around in circles. It’s like a tramp; it has no place to go. – Joel Ross and Michael Kami
- “Plans are less important than planning.” – Dale McConkey
- “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” – Michael LeBoeuf
- “There is always a better strategy than the one you have; you just haven’t thought of it yet.” – Sir Brian Pitman
- “In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.” – Jack Welch
- “There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you’re good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backward, even if it requires learning new skills.” – Jeff Bezos
- “Underpromise; overdeliver.” – Tom Peters
- “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter
- “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” -Michael LeBoeuf
- “It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.” – Steve Jobs
- “Companies that grow for the sake of growth or that expand into areas outside their core business strategy often stumble. On the other hand, companies that build scale for the benefit of their customers and shareholders more often succeed over time.” – Jamie Dimon