Last month I noticed a warning light on my car’s dashboard telling me that it was time to have my brakes looked at. I thought, “No, I’m pretty busy-I’ll let it go until next week.” Next week turned into next month… and then I heard the grinding. The repair bill was more than four times what it would have been had I dealt with the issue when it first arose.
Strategy is often the same. It is uncomfortable, nobody likes doing it, and it seems impossible to take the time away from a hectic schedule filled to overflowing with customer fires, internal crises, delivering for customers, or closing new business. Yet, what are the consequences of NOT stepping off the runaway train and spending time preparing for the future?
- Customers grow tired of inadequate service and take their business elsewhere. If you’re lucky they don’t take their friends with them.
- You are so busy serving existing customers that you don’t have the capacity to bring in new customers, forestalling growth
- Without new customers, you have no way to compensate for inevitable customer churn
- Your employees are ineffective at best, and at worst, begin to burn out and leave. How much would it cost you if 50% of your employees were ineffective 10% of the time? For 200 employees, you may be losing at a minimum $1.5M each year!
- Your competitors pass you by
- Worse yet, you burn out yourself.
You may be able to postpone refining your strategy for a time, but inevitably, it will catch up to you. The treadmill you’re on keeps running, dragging you with it.
To ensure the health of your business, you need to allocate time each year to evaluate and update your long-term strategy, and each month to test & refine it. Only by doing so can you ensure that your customers, competitors, or the market haven’t left you behind.
This time for strategy must be sacrosanct, lest like my brakes it gets put off until the cost is much greater than the prevention. In the words of the Nike ads, Just Do It!