The traditional strategic planning model calls for determining a mission, creating strategies and tactics and then gathering the resources necessary to pull it off.
But there are some problems with this model:
1. One obvious one for small business owners is that the needed resources may not be available. It’s easy to come up with an idea. It’s not so easy, especially these days, to find someone who will help fund it.
2. And the world changes so quickly today. If you move too slowly, a competitor will beat you there. The market may change unexpectedly.
That happened to us with a business we launched for community banks in the fall of 2008. We had done our research but the whole market changed drastically in less than a month!
So what’s an entrepreneur to do? Just forget about strategic planning?
We suggest that you turn the strategic planning model upside down – start by discovering your resources instead of defining your mission.
2 questions to discover your resources
First, ask yourself:
What can I do with the resources I have at my disposal right now?
What resources are available through the people in my network?
2 follow-up questions
After you’ve determined all of the resources available to you, ask:
Where’s the convergence?
You’ll probably see a number of possibilities. Look for combinations that lead to opportunity.
The final question in this process is:
How do I create value?
This is the question that gets you back to your mission. You must find a way to create value for your customers, the people in your network who will be involved and yourself. It’s not a good opportunity if you can’t find a win for all three.
4 advantages of upside down strategic planning
1. It keeps you from overreaching.
When you work within your set of existing resources, you’re much less likely to stretch yourself too thin.
2. You can move faster.
The time you would have spent trying to find resources can now be focused on serving core constituents. This may give you a competitive advantage.
3. It’s a natural check on mission creep.
Why duplicate something that someone in your network already does really well?
4. Your organization is more adaptable.
You’ll be able to back off when things unexpectedly change. And it will be mentally easier to do so because you’ll know you haven’t pushed the limits of your resources. You still have some left to pursue another opportunity.
By focusing on how to make the most of the resources at your disposal, you’ll discover opportunities you might not have discovered otherwise. It’s a shorter path to BIGG success!
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