I was reflecting recently on my university days. They were some of the best days of my life. I know that at the time I felt stress and pressure to deliver assignments on time, memorise text books for exams, and the constant challenge from the lecturers to ‘apply more critical thinking’. But when I look back now, I recognise them as relatively carefree, fun times.
And it dawned on me that part of the ability to be carefree came from essentially being told what to do when and in order to achieve the end goal. For me to graduate in 4 years with a double degree, the university told me what subjects I had to complete, what order the modules had to be done in, what topics I needed to write about and even what dates things were due. And then, within weeks you knew whether you had succeeded and failed and then you took the next, predetermined step.
I truly value my education, but my reflections made me realise that this neatly laid out path to success did not prepare me for the real world of running a business. Yes it taught me critical thinking, and research, and analysis skills, and I would not be where I am today without it. But the real world of running a small business is that there is more often than not no predetermined end goal, no clear path or steps to reach that goal, and no one to tell you quickly whether what you are doing is right or wrong. We aren’t told the recipe for success and we are exposed to environmental market forces. And the stakes are much higher – it isn’t just a pass or fail mark, for most business owners their house, their family lifestyle and their livelihood is on the line. And if you employ people, then their livelihoods are also on the line.
So how do we regain that sense of knowing where we are heading and what we need to do to get there?
Well, it will never be as clear as the education pathway, but you can make it less ‘murky’. I know, because I live and breathe it at Focus HR every day, that getting into a rhythm and discipline with strategic thinking and implementation planning gives us that clarity. Developing strategy isn’t rocket science – it is taking a step out of your business, exploring it from different angles, doing some soul searching on what you want to be when you grow up as a business and then putting a plan in place to reach that goal. Then getting your team on board and regularly setting and measuring interim goals that you know will take you closer to the end goal.
If you want to enjoy the simplicity of working towards a bold plan, knowing what steps you need to take next, and having your team work with you towards your end goal, talk with us about facilitating your next strategy sessions. It will bring a little of that carefree feeling back into your step!