by Yvonne DiVita
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.
Just got off a call with the team. We're focused on 2014, which is just a couple of weeks away now. When you're in business, the New Year takes on a whole new perspective. You might be looking forward to the company party and all that good food and wine, but if you're in any kind of leadership role, you're truly focused on strategic planning, along with the congratulatory "great job!" slaps on the back you'll be handing out. Pun intended.
After much quiet deliberation; after many sleepless nights, pondering; after hammering my mentor with questions, I've come to a few conclusions about strategic planning, which I share with you today. If they help in your focus on 2014, I encourage you to share in the comments below.
1. First and foremost, be purposeful. Treat each and every day with intent.
For instance, I intend to engage with my team more than I have in the past. I intend to see each day as an opportunity. I intend to make things happen, rather than allowing things to happen. Being purposeful is the first step to achieving goals, in my opinion.
I believe one of the most important things I learned from being in leadership groups is the concept of "always be in learning mode." This requires great listening skills. Imagine this: I come to you with a fantastic idea. Why is it fantastic? Because I say so. You listen to my opening statement, "You gotta do this...if we do this, we'll create more sales opportunities than we've ever had in the past... we'll this and that..." At this point, you may or may not be sold on the idea. If you have reservations, you may have stopped listening.
I want you to keep listening. I want you to sit back, stop glancing at email, stop thinking about what you want for lunch... and listen. With open ears and open eyes. Absorb the idea. Maybe it's a bad idea, but unless you give it your full attention, you will never know. In the end, you’ll learn what's important to me and why I'm enthusiastic about the idea. You might even learn what to say - such as, "Nice job, Yvonne, but have you thought about this..." And, "How will it happen? Who is involved? What will it accomplish?"
3. And that leads into purposeful intent three... letting go.
Maybe the idea was yours. Maybe you were the one over the moon about it. Maybe you convinced the rest of the team to get behind it. Maybe...it didn't really work the way you thought it would, and you are still hoping for positive results.
During a leadership group session many years ago, one member was asked, "How is that working for you?" in response to her marketing program.
"We're hoping for great results!" she said, as her smile covered her entire face!
The facilitator gave a nod. "Hope," he said, "is not a plan. How do you plan to achieve great results?"
You see, planning requires letting go. Anything that has been implemented and not returned a positive result (sales, engagement, brand recognition or loyalty) needs to go. No matter how great you thought it would be.
Ideas that are stupendously wonderful...but require more manpower, more time, or more budget than you have, can be put "in the icebox"... not dead, nor forgotten, but saved on ice.
Letting go requires a stalwart character and a true focus on success. You cannot succeed if you do not cull the underperforming ideas, programs, and even people.
Start 2014 fresh. Start with strategic intent to be purposeful in your work, your planning, and your people. It will make the strategic planning for 2015 all the more powerful a year from now.
To help you further your goals and strategy focus, I'm sharing a great infographic from my friends at VISA Business.