business growth, leadership, strategic

Balancing Act: 4 Tips to Become a Better Strategist and Improviser

By Asa Beavers

As a leader of your business both strategizing and improvising are extremely valuable. It’s a balance between thinking deeply and having quick reflexes.

Yet if you lean too far into thinking strategically, good ideas don’t quickly get implemented and tested. Then YOU get stuck asking too many ‘what if…’ questions, and your business can lose momentum and become sluggish.

Then if you lean too far towards taking immediate action without thinking things through, YOU get too many activities going, things can become reckless, and you’re left cleaning up unintended messes.

Good business leaders know having a plan is a good idea, but they are also good at being able to adapt quickly.

The game of football is very strategic. Specific plays are called for specific situations. Yet once the ball is snapped and the quarterback sees the play isn’t going to work, the QB can make a quick decision to scramble and turn the play into a positive gain. It’s a classic example of strategy + improvisation that is needed to win the game.

Good leaders value having a plan, and they also understand the importance of being able to adapt quickly. As a business owner and leader YOU are are the quarterback of your team.

Yet from my experience, too many business owners don’t invest enough time into the plan, and rely too heavily on just rolling with what’s happening in real time.

Whether letting your business roll without much planning is reckless or not, the result is your business is not living up to your expectations or achieving its full potential.

Here are 4 tips towards being a better strategist AND improviser.

Create a plan but don’t fall in love with it.

Having a bulletproof plan is not the goal. Not having a plan at all is hoping for the best without a roadmap to get there. You must put in enough deep thought into a plan to guide you and your business, yet you must also remain nimble and humble. Be willing to make adjustments and listen to others input.

I recommend following the K.I.S.S. principle when it comes to planning. I write more about conquering business planning neglect here

Sometimes you’ll get lucky, now take advantage of it.

We know not everything goes as planned. And then there’s times when preparedness meets opportunity and you have to be ready to engage. Luck isn’t a strategy you can count on, but you can take advantage of it.

There’s nothing more lucky than winning the lottery. No skill is required. In business though luck appears at various times. I suggest you embrace it when it comes your way and think deeply about how you might extend it. Otherwise, I suggest you read my article here about embracing the grind of building your business with these tips.

Take the lead, but yield to others and listen.

You own the business and are the presumed leader, so naturally others will yield to you. Remaining open to others is difficult in your position, yet it’s one of the greatest assets of a good leader. Probe for other’s opinions and always acknowledge their contribution.

The topic of leadership is so vast. Most owners leading their business only know a fraction of what’s been written, and few put it into practice consistently. Read more as I discuss 4-ways to lead by following in my article here.

The buck stops here.

As the leader you’ve opened the door to feedback and suggestions, yet no business operates as a democracy. As the sole equity owner you assume the risk and benefits from every decision made for the business. Listen to others and explore options, but don’t procrastinate making key decisions for your business. 

Business ownership is a balance between deep thinking and quick reflexes. It’s a dance between the plan you have, and responding to the unexpected.

You can create a plan, grind it out daily, and yield to others when needed. Yet leading a business isn’t easy and nothing’s guaranteed. 

So instead of wishing for a lucky break, or wishing things were easier, how about you focus on making yourself a better leader of your business? Here are what I consider to be the 4 business building skills you need to transform your business. See if you might agree.

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