What comes to mind when you read or hear the term strategic thinking skills? You may know it’s essential for your career and your business, but how do you actually do it? I think back to when I first started telling family members that we all needed to become thinking people. They stared at me without saying a word and waited for me to explain what I meant. I told them that no matter what we were about to embark on in our lives, we had to step back and think about it strategically. This would enable us all to make the very best decisions at the time it counted most. This led to ongoing, deep conversations about how best to make sure we were being strategic in our thinking. That’s when I decided to learn more about strategic thinking for entrepreneurs as I was growing my business.
First off, let’s define strategic thinking skills. For entrepreneurs this may mean something different to everyone, depending upon your background and beliefs. Strategic thinking is simply an intentional and rational thought process that focuses on the analysis of critical factors and variables that will influence the long-term success of a business, a team, or an individual.
Strategic thinking skills includes careful and deliberate anticipation of threats and vulnerabilities to guard against and opportunities to pursue. Ultimately strategic thinking and analysis will lead to a clear set of goals, plans, and new ideas required to survive and thrive in a competitive, changing environment. This sort of thinking must account for economic realities, market forces, and available resources and requires research, analytical thinking, innovation, problem-solving skills, communication and leadership skills, and decisiveness.
What specific steps can you take to be more strategic as an entrepreneur? Start by changing your mindset. Ask the tough questions. And continue to be aware of what you are doing and how it is affecting your results. Here are five questions to should ask yourself to really sharpen your strategic thinking…
- What do you want in your life?
The most important thing to work out is where you want to be. Everything—goals, strategies, steps, should all be pointing to your desired destination. Do you want to be CEO, or be running your own company?
What do you want to achieve this year, in five years, ten? What are your actual goals? What’s your vision? Get it all down on paper and think big!
- Where are You Starting From?
Do a survey of exactly where you are right now. What skills, resources, and assets do you have? What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks in your current job or business?
Are you satisfied with life the way it is, or do you want something more? What connections do you have? Map out your network and what value you provide to them, and what they offer you. Write up your self-inventory.
- What do You Have the Power to Change?
Think about what is in your control at the present moment. What can you streamline or eliminate? What do you need to add, enhance, or modify to reach your goals? This can include anything from training, networking opportunities, to investment advice or strategic career planning.
- What do You Need to Move Ahead?
Take another look at your self-inventory. What skills, resources, knowledge, and connections do you need to get closer to success? If this is difficult or overwhelming, consider finding a mentor or life coach who can help you find your way.
- How Can I Reach My Goals and Still Enjoy Life?
Really going for success shouldn’t make for a joyless life, totally focused on getting ahead. Make sure you take time to have fun and do the things that give you pleasure. Think of what Future Successful You enjoys doing. What makes your future worth striving for?
Write down all the fun things you will do, whether it’s staying in 5-star hotels or being able to work for only half the year. Imagine driving your dream car. See yourself in your future executive suite.See what elements of your future life you can start to incorporate in the present and build on those. Before you know it, you will be toasting your success!
I’m author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and my goal is to connect with you if you have more than just a passing interest in getting started with an online business. Download a complimentary training on how to “Prioritize Your Life: Make More Time for Achieving Your Goals and Enjoying Your Life” to get started right away.