Becoming a Strategic Leader
For a business owner or entrepreneur to become a strategic leader, there are many facets they need to consider first. The strategies listed below can be used across all business structures — from an LLC with a handful of employees to a large corporation that employs hundreds. Either way, without taking the below points into account, it’s difficult to have a winning strategy that will last long in the marketplace.
1. Look at the NOW
It’s always important to look at the future — but in order to even see a future ahead, you also need to focus on what’s happening NOW in your business. What’s working? What’s not working? Should you pivot? Are you drowning in debt? Are you taking a loss on a weekly basis? When it comes to strategic leadership, you can’t look to the future of your business without understanding where it is TODAY.
If do you notice things aren’t currently working, how do you fix them? What strategy can you implement to move the needle and turn things around? If business is great, awesome — but how do you take it to the next level of growth? Plan and strategize everything, building on what you see happening now. And make sure to have a constant focus on your daily operations so you maintain a solid grasp on your business.
2. Look at the FUTURE
Once you understand where things are right now, look at the future. Plan out weekly, quarterly, annually, etc. Where do you see the business realistically going in the next quarter, two quarters, year, five years and so on? This is no different than setting your short- and long-term goals. Point number one above would be your short-term, while number two would involve long-term planning.
Here’s an important question: Do you even have goals, or are you winging it day by day? If so, this is not a good strategy to use if you want to be a strategic leader in your business. Instead, plan out your future and make sure it aligns with both where you are today and your short-term goals.
For example, if in 12 months you want to be a $1M business, but you’re currently doing $10,000 a month in revenue, you better have a really good strategy in place to make up the difference in sales. Otherwise, you’re going to fail miserably to reach your goal. Without a strategic plan in place, this goal isn’t rooted in the reality of your now or your future.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions or run ideas by a personal advisory board to see if your strategy makes sense. Bring on board members who know how to run a successful business. With strategic leadership, it’s your job to ensure the business grows and is profitable. No one is going to do this work for you (unless you appoint someone to handle that position for your company). You could also use some of the research tools found at Incfile if you’re looking for resources, guides, or articles to answer some of your questions.
3. Determine Your Demand
Another part of strategic leadership is figuring out trends. If you can see the demand for a product or service and come to market with a solution, you’re ahead of the game. The best businesses solve problems. If you can solve a problem for a business or individual, more often than not you’ll attract customers willing to invest (assuming your price isn’t astronomical).
The demand for a product or service ties directly into our next point: ensuring you have the means to supply the product or service at scale when growing your customer base. By watching ahead to take stock of trends for sales and knowing what inventory levels should be, you can plan accordingly to ensure you meet the demand put on your business.
4. Build a Solid Pipeline and Clients
Once you know you have a product or service that solves a problem, you need to make sure you have people you can pitch it to. This can be via door-to-door sales, online marketing, cold-calling, social media, etc. Build a pipeline of prospects that you and your staff will work on closing. With the right strategic leadership, you should NEVER say you don’t have anyone to call on. Your pipeline should always be full, giving you should have a list of people and companies you can call on every day.
Once you land a client, ensure you service the heck out of them to retain their business. You should have some sort of sales structure at your business, though it can be set up in many different ways. For example, you could have people who do prospecting and then turn the lead over to someone on the sales team. Then after closing, the sales team member would hand the client off to someone in customer retention who follows up and takes reorders.
Another option is to have the same individual work through the whole process themselves. Hold them accountable to not only call on prospects to qualify, but also sell them, service them and retain them. As a strategic leader, you should understand the most efficient way to go through the sales process based on your individual business model and structure.
5. Hire the Right Staff
Our last piece of strategic leadership advice is knowing where any holes are in the company. If you don’t have anyone great at marketing, fill the hole. If your sales team isn’t cutting it, hire a new sales team. If a ton of people are contacting your business and bogging down you or your sales staff, hire a customer service team. You get the picture — if the individual you hire will either make or save an amount at least equal to their salary, hire them.
For instance, if you hire someone to run marketing for $50,000 and they increase your sales by $100,000, that should be a no-brainer. For your $50,000 investment in an employee, they brought you an extra $50,000 in revenue. You could also outsource some of your work as well; Incfile can help manage your business by handling several aspects remotely for a very reasonable fee.
Either way, to scale at any level you’ll inevitably need help. The key is to hire the RIGHT staff to fill in any gaps in your business, so you can grow while still being able to pay their salary.