• peterwilliamkerr

Aligning short-term decisions to strategic ambitions within SMEs

For those who own or are running small and medium size businesses, the challenge that often causes the most frustration is how to focus on the long-term development of the business whilst at the same time dealing with the seemingly endless day-to-day issues.

The majority of SME’s acknowledge the need to spend more time ‘working on’ their business strategy, but there never seems to be sufficient spare time available to get round to it. However, by prioritising long-term business strategy so that it becomes the main driver behind short-term decisions, it is possible to align the two and go a long way to resolving this issue; and in so doing improve overall business performance and the well-being of those running SMEs.

All SMEs were founded with a purpose or vision in mind; whether that be as a lifestyle ‘company of one’ that intends to remain small and independent to provide a living for its owner(s), or at the other end of the spectrum as a start-up with high growth ambitions to take on the world. As the newly formed business gets going it identifies new opportunities for it to pursue, some of which were anticipated whilst others come from unexpected sources that require greater input; and at the same time it has to deal with various and numerous challenges, again some of which are foreseen, whereas others take the business by complete surprise. And then there’s the mountain of regulations, legal obligations, and administration that has to be dealt with. Before long the original reason for why the business was formed is a distant memory, and now all energy is being exhausted on just keeping the business going to fulfil orders, keep paying the wages and salaries, and ensure the bank or other funding providers are kept happy. In other words, the business is now being run through short-term decisions that are reacting to the opportunities and challenges of its environment, rather than through short-term decisions that are aligned to its future ambitions.

So how does an SME change its dynamics so that its short-term decisions are closely aligned to its strategic ambitions?

The answer lies in not only creating a long-term business strategy, but in making that strategy part of the fabric and everyday running of the business. In other words, structures and processes are created within the business that enable the priorities around short-term decisions to be determined by those that impact most upon the long-term strategy.

It works on the principle that not all decisions that an SME owner or manager faces on a daily or weekly basis are of equal importance or significance to the long-term performance of the business. As such, creating the means to ensure the greatest priority is given to those decisions that have the most impact on its long-term strategy increases the efficiency of its decision making by avoiding time and effort being wasted on matters that will have little or no influence on the performance of the business. Being able to prioritise decisions in that way during the heat of everyday business activity can present a huge benefit to SME owner / managers by providing clarity of thought, better performance, and more effective time management that leads to an increased sense of well-being.

Blue Box Strategy seeks to engage with SMEs through its Structured Strategic Planning Process (SSPP) to firstly create a long-term strategic plan that reflects the ambitions of its owners and managers, and secondly to help put in place the internal structures and processes that will ensure its everyday decision making is aligned to achievement of its strategy.

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