Dave Lavinsky of Growthink Reveals 6 Strategic Planning Mistakes

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Growthink President Dave Lavinsky has revealed 6 common strategic planning mistakes to help entrepreneurs develop a better vision for their business.

Dave Lavinsky, co-founder and President of Growthink

According to Dave Lavinsky, every business needs a vision - a clear definition of what it would like to become in the future. And, every business needs a set strategy - a definition and plan of how the business is going to reach this vision.

Dave Lavinsky is co-founder and President of Growthink Inc., a leading entrepreneurial consulting firm that has helped over 500,000 entrepreneurs launch and grow successful businesses.

“All the key elements: what you sell, to whom, for how much, what you promise, etc, they are all part of your company's strategy or direction towards creating the business you want,” says Lavinsky.

According to Lavinsky, once an entrepreneur has chosen a direction and vision, the next step is strategic planning - mapping out how the business will achieve this over a long-term time frame.

“This, like all planning, involves determining what projects you will complete and when, and how you will allocate resources such as man hours, money, and assets.”

Lavinsky states that a strategic plan should break down into specific, detailed short-term plans that help a business know what to do on a month-to-month and even day-to-day basis.

“But can you imagine what happens when you have a short-term plan to handle all the business and projects you have going on, but no longer-term, strategic plan to tie it all together? Maybe you've experienced it...the answer is chaos, drudgery, and endless wheel-spinning with no little progress,” said Lavinsky.

To help entrepreneurs overcome these strategy planning mistakes, Lavinsky has revealed 6 of the most common errors and obstacles facing entrepreneurs and what to do about them:

  • Unclear, Unshared Vision

“With all the time team members spend together in meetings and talking to each other, it's surprising how often they come away with different mental pictures of what the company is supposed to be and in what direction it's supposed to be going,” says Lavinsky.

“Everyone sees the company's future from their own perspective and function. It's your job to repeatedly communicate your company's vision and strategy to them-50 or 100 times if you have to-so they're all on the same page and can give you better advice and support.”

  • Operational Thinking Dominates Your Time

According to Lavinsky, this occurs when entrepreneurs spend most of their time in meetings is discussing how to run the business and putting out the fires that come up so often, as opposed to also spending time strategizing and planning.

“It's easier said than done to carve out time in your schedule for strategic thinking and planning, but that's the nature of entrepreneurship-taking care of today's business with an eye on the future. Hard to do, but keep in mind that delegating more of the day-to-day operational tasks to your team can free you up to do the strategic work, which may be something that only you can do,” he said.

  • Getting Complacent When Things are Good

“My friend Paul Lemberg refers to the Comfort Zone phenomenon as leading business managers to become "fat, dumb, and happy." In other words, becoming complacent when things are going fine. This can lead to becoming reactive with your strategy, rather than proactive. Do you want to be reconfiguring your company and innovating under duress at breakneck speed at the last minute, or well ahead of time when the pressure is off?

Quite a few companies wait until a crisis comes around to kick-start their strategic thinking out of necessity. You don't want to be planning during a crisis...”

  • Wasting Time With 5-Year Plans

“Let's be honest here...isn't a five-year pretty much a one-year plan, plus 4 years of guessing?” said Lavinsky. “You must have a clear vision of what your company will be like in 5 years, but to try and guess the details of what will be going on in 43 months, for example, in a fast-changing world is wishful thinking.”

  • Planning Once Per Year, Out Of Routine

“We all know how around New Year's Day, many individuals start thinking about their personal goals for the year ahead. And many businesses work hard on a yearly plan during the same month of every year. But can you wait to do your strategic thinking until your annual cycle calls for it? The business environment just isn't that predictable. You must set your annual plan, and then judge your progress and adjust your strategy and plan as needed,” said Lavinsky.

  • No Process or Methodology For Strategic Planning

“I suggest you discuss and choose your strategy in one session, then do your full strategic planning in another. In setting strategy, you'll be in creative mode, exploring all possible options. Choose the strategy that makes the most sense, and then figure out the precise action plan to achieve it in a separate, more analytical meeting.”

In summary, Lavinsky believes that with appropriate time set aside for strategic thinking and planning, and by avoiding the obstacles discussed herein, that entrepreneurs will experience the joy that comes from knowing exactly what they are striving for and how to get there.

“You'll feel more grounded, balanced, and centered. You'll come to work with greater purpose and passion. And you'll have more to show for your efforts at the end of each year.”

About Growthink

Growthink provides consulting services and training products to help entrepreneurs start, grow, and successfully exit their businesses. To learn more about Growthink's Strategic Plan Template, visit http://www.growthink.com/products/strategic-plan-template. To learn more about Growthink's business plan services, visit http://www.growthink.com/businessplan. Growthink also offers a best-selling business plan template, available at http://www.growthink.com/products/business-plan-template.

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