Strategy. Hit or myth?

There’s a lot of fake news about. It can be disruptive, confusing, divisive. Separating fact from fiction is vital in all areas of life, but no more so than in business. To succeed you need hard evidence, not hearsay. That’s why we’d like to explode eight of the myths currently surrounding strategy.

Myth one – Strategy is only necessary if you’re a huge multinational

False. Whether you’re a minnow or a mammoth you need strategy. Only by having a meaningful strategy, unique to your business, that’s implemented constantly, can you hope to scale up. It can mean the difference between the success and failure of your business, so, whatever size you are, strategy needs to be taken seriously.

Myth two – Strategy is expensive

False. There are people who’ve made a good living by making strategic planning very expensive indeed. We’ve all met people like that, who not only promise you the earth but charge it. But does a £100,000 car get you there any quicker than a £10,000 car? Not with our traffic. Strategy doesn’t have to be expensive. If delivered correctly it should be clear, simple and not a drain on your resources. We know that your cash is hard-earned. It needs to be spent wisely.

Myth three – Strategy takes too long

False. Putting the right strategy in place shouldn’t eat way all your valuable time. Business owners, however, often use this as the excuse for not having one. They believe they’re too busy to put strategy in place. But a long day at the coal-face doesn’t mean you’re going to strike riches. You need to find the time to develop a strategy that examines every aspect of your business, including your workload. You need to find out what’s fundamentally wrong with your business in order to fix it. And if your business is ticking along nicely, you still need a strategy to ensure that it stays that way. Strategy is time well spent.

Myth four – I don’t need strategy; I’ve already got a business plan

False. A business plan is better than no plan at all, but it has its shortcomings. While it plays an important role in raising capital, its shelf life is too short to deal with the peaks and troughs that lie ahead. Only a meaningful strategy that is regularly implemented can deal with both the short and long-term objectives of businesses wishing to scale up.

Myth five – Brainstorming is strategy

False. Brainstorming is a bunch of people in a room covered in yellow post-it-notes, who’ve convinced themselves their day out of the office will make their business fly. While they probably get a buzz from all the coffee they’ve drunk, have they really got to grips with the issues facing their business? The answer, and let’s circle it in red on the flip chart, is ‘no’. Strategy is a discipline, not a free-for-all. It requires careful examination of a company, usually by the business owner themselves and senior partners. It needs forensic examination of the numbers, to see what’s right and what’s wrong. If you want a day out of the office, do it when you’ve implemented your strategy, not beforehand.

Myth six – Fluff is okay

False. Fluff is for navel-gazers. It’s too easy to open the lexicon of business terms and come up with something that sounds important. We’ve all come across people fluent in jargon, rearranging the language into ‘business speak’. If you want to come up with clever words, play Scrabble. Strategy is about coming up with clear, coherent business aims, written in plain English, that everyone in your company can understand.

Myth seven – A goal is a strategy

False. A goal is a target, not the means of hitting the target. The goal in archery is to hit the bullseye, but the strategy to achieve this involves training, practice, choice of bow, arrows, hand-grip. That is why so few goals are attained. People focus on the end result, without considering the strategy needed to get them there. Yes, it’s great to have a goal, but you need strategy to make certain you achieve it.

Myth eight – To succeed in business you just need to go out and win!

False. This isn’t strategy, it’s motivation. While it’s great to be energised, it won’t get you very far if you’re ill-prepared. In sport you have teams who are highly motivated, who bash changing room walls before games, blast out music, high-five each other, and then go out and get well and truly beaten. That’s because the other team wasn’t just motivated, they were prepared. They had better talent at their disposal, better tactics, they’d done their homework on the opposition. It’s the same in business. Those who succeed aren’t just fired up, they have a carefully defined strategy for their business, one that will help them scale up.

Now ask yourself – are any of these myths stopping you from putting strategy in place? If you’re uncertain, perhaps we can give you a bit of certainty. Take the Certainty Scorecard Test. It will reveal the areas of strength and weakness within your business, and the steps you can take to develop a strategy to help you scale up.

Click here for the Certainty Score test.