The Perils of Tactics without Strategy that You Need to Consider
Sun Tzu famously said in his epic work, ‘The Art of War’, ‘Strategy without Tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.’
In a survey conducted by Scottish Pacific SME Growth Index in early 2019, 63% of businesses surveyed ($1m-$20m annual revenue) reported that they were planning to invest in growth in the first six months of the year. 11% of those had no concrete strategy in place as to how they’ll execute their plans.
Many of the plans that I come across inside small and medium sized business are more tactical in nature than strategic, and the business is usually leaking value as a result.
By ‘leaking value’, I mean they are not getting maximum return on investment. Sometimes they aren’t getting much of a return at all.
There is a story of a small business owner who has a good business that was built some time ago, with plenty of happy customers, and good cash flow. But there are warning signs of trouble on the horizon.
The business has found itself slowly being swamped with new competition, copying their earlier innovations, and seemingly getting more business, and growing before their very eyes. When they talk to potential new customers, they get feedback that a price discount could make the difference. Sometimes that gets the sale over the line and sometimes it doesn’t. They are spending more on advertising for a lower return than they used to get. Some products are selling better than others, and it’s not always the ones they’re most proud of, or bring in the best margin.
The business owner and the staff team are coming up with really great ideas. There is lots of energy about the place, everyone is committed to working a little harder, and there is a strong vision driving the team. When that alone doesn’t seem to be working, the business owner invests in more external marketing expertise for better graphic design, professional copywriters, digital marketers and doing more social media. Still, with all that good stuff going on, sales simply are not moving in the direction and at the pace that they need.
And they don’t know why.
Bringing strategy into the formula is the thing that makes the difference. Sun Tzu knew it in 496 BC, and nothing has changed.
Strategy has been the subject of study by business leaders for centuries, yet there is no definitive answer for what strategy is.
I define strategy for my clients quite simply as the Formula for Success, for your business and your specific set of circumstances.
Strategy is also a description of how we will get from point A to B as we commit to producing a business result, having assessed what we are working with, and logically determined the most effective and efficient way forward.
But here’s the thing, the approach to strategy for small business needs to be different to strategy for large organisations. Having said that, there are models that have been highly successful over many decades and widely used in the corporate world that can be adapted for use in the small business environment. These models can help us simplify what would otherwise be a very complex formula for success.
If you are looking for stronger ROI for your business and marketing investment, then find out how you can do Strategy better.
About the Author
Leanne Knowles is the Founder of Headswitch. Leanne is a former professional skydiver, turned Business Strategist who has been helping business owners for more than 20 years to navigate the risks, opportunities and rewards of ambitious growth and transformation projects.
What you’re saying
“In a short period of time Leanne achieved great results with respect to the management structure of our business. An excellent coach that was driven and dedicated to getting the best out of our management team. Thanks Leanne!"
- Jerry Yeghichian Director, Buxton Real Estate
“Leanne Knowles asked me once what I wanted to do with my life, and I answered, 'In a few years, I want to...'. And then she asked me, 'Why not today?'. Epic question. Epic lesson.”
- Chris Nolet Software Engineer at App
"Leanne is exceeding my expectations as a business coach week after week and I trust her partnership, dedication and commitment. "
Juanita Timpanaro Partner, The Object
"In short, my team and I feel that we could not have undertaken such an ambitious series of projects without Leanne’s professional advice and patience"
John Haines Director, LivCor
"Headswitch helped us launch our service into a new market and in the process, doubled our business in 6 months."
Sharyn Honey Lowe Director, Flaunt Marketing
"I was very impressed with the Headswitch programs delivered across multiple sites in our business. The transformation from a couple of months ago has been amazing."
Jon Ratcliffe National Franchise Manager, APCO
"Leanne understands the need for vision and is passionate about working with people to achieve personal and professional goals. "
Michael Brown Former Chief Executive, Hawthorn Football Clu
"I highly recommend Leanne as a coach - she will bring honesty, workability, clarity and integrity to the relationship, and your business will definitely flourish for it."
Helene Fuller Health and Wellbeing Coach
"Now that my business is successful and growing, I’m working with Leanne to crank up the systems and automation. It makes life easier working with someone who has done it all before."