Recently, an acquaintance of mine posed the question, do small businesses need strategy? My answer is that ALL organizations need strategy, whether they are big or small, in the private sector or public sector, profit or not for profit. Whether it’s in the military, business, government, or social sector, strategy is about asking and answering fundamental questions about the nature of the organization’s purpose and mission. What are its goals, its purpose, its character, and what resources can and should be allocated to these ends? What are the organization’s key advantages and strengths, its competitors and stakeholders, and how should these all be exploited and leveraged in order to prevail and achieve the mission and vision?

Last year Facebook acquired Instagram, the service that allows users to upload and share photographs. The only problem is that the company up to then was essentially without a strategy or even a business model. Not surprisingly, it didn’t generate any revenue, and had little prospect of doing so until a basic strategy could be worked out. Facebook has since forced Instagram to get its act together and to start generating revenue. The process started simply enough: to find the company’s mission. That apparently took two whole weeks! I tend to get exasperated when that process takes longer than an hour when I facilitate strategy. But you have to take the time needed to get that part straight, because how do you know what your strategy can and should be if you don’t even know what your purpose and main objective is? This doesn’t create the strategy automatically, but it’s the start of the process of formulation, planning, experimentation, learning and refinement that leads to effective and implementable strategy.

Whether you’re big or small, you need strategy.

Food for Thought
What is our purpose? What are our fundamental values — what do we stand for? What are our goals? What are our key advantages and strengths and how can we exploit these to dominate the competition and secure our future? These are just some of the questions all organizations need to ask and answer to start the process of creating and implementing successful strategy.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

  1. bethplutchak says:

    The corollary is that all businesses have a strategy, whether they know it or not. It’s much better to control your strategy by having a well defined one, and being flexible enough to change it when conditions change.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.