One area that we have yet to explore is being strategic.
What exactly do I mean by saying that you should be strategic?
Well, I mean that you should take the time to study and develop a strategy of how you intend to succeed. How will you promote yourself and your business? How will you develop followers or customers? If things are not going well, what will you do to change it up? As you develop plans for these and other issues, that is a strategy. As you develop and fine tune your strategy, you will have a plan of action, and a roadmap to follow in the event that things are not going as planned, or hoped for.
Recently, I was reading an article in Inc. Magazine about Six Habits of Strategic thinkers. I will, for the most part, based this article on the thoughts in that article. They really had some excellent points in terms of being strategic, so let’s look at some of them.
You really should try to anticipate changes or trends in your niche markets. Don’t spend all of your time thinking about what you need today or even in the next week. Look a little more long-term, look at what you intend to do and what progress you need to make in the next month, six months and the next year. Set long-term goals.
Another interesting thing in the article is that you should use your peripheral vision to watch the periphery of your niches. Look at what is going on right at the edges of the niches that you are in. Seeing what is happening at the far edges may pull you into new niches that you were unaware of, and you never know, those niches could turn out to be the ones that are big for you, and you didn’t even know about them until you started watching the edges of the niches that you did know about.
In terms of anticipating, you should also watch for new developments, even squarely in your niche. When you see something pop up that is unfamiliar to you because it is so new. you need to take time to look closely and decide if it is something that you need to look at for yourself. But, if you wait too long, you may find that it is too late to be early in the new trend.
Look at what you see in the market, and when you consider it for yourself, look in a critical way. Look for flaws. If you find flaws in the things that others are offering, it is your time to go into action! Fix those flaws and make your own offering. Your product or service will be better than what is already on the market.
Another thing in this area, which I feel is very important, is that you should look critically at your own products and services. Generally, if we create something ourselves, we tend to think that our creations are as they should be.. they are perfect or close to it. However, if we look critically we will almost always find things that can and should be improved.
Play “devil’s advocate” against your own offerings, and you are likely to find flaws that you have been unaware of.
Although it is a delicate balance between “good enough” and “perfect” you should be careful that you don’t ever want to chase “perfect”. If you hold back on a product until it is perfect, you will never bring it to market, because nothing is perfect. Make it good enough, and you will probably have a good product. So, search for flaws in your offerings, but keep in mind that you will never achieve perfection.
As I mentioned previously, any product you offer will be less than perfect, because it is not possible for something to be perfect. But, in line with this, what is important is for you interpret what the market tells you.
When you start selling something, be it a product or a service, you will get feedback from the public, from the people who purchase your product. They will ask questions, they might complain, or you might see reviews on websites (your own site or other sites). Don’t get mad if they say something that you disagree with, or if they say something bad about your product. Study those comments and consider them suggestions for future revisions of the product.
Think about software, say Windows. There is not one version of Windows and then no more. Every few years a new version of Windows comes out. Same with Apple’s operating system. You should do the same. When Windows comes out, you will find articles and forums online where people are complaining about this or that about the new windows. This feature does not work, that driver is not available, etc. Do you think Microsoft reads these comments? Sure they do! Then, they sure they do! When these kinds of critical comments come up, those are opportunities to improve the product for the next release! This is how you should react too. Use your energy and efforts to improve your product in areas that are of obvious importance to your customers!
The article that I referred to in Inc. made a couple other points too, but I feel that the ones that I have covered are the meat and potatoes of Strategic Thinking in terms of being an Entrepreneur. I do recommend reading the article, though, and getting their thinking on the previous strategies and the other ones that they list. I am sure you will pick up some ideas that you can apply to your business.
In the next article, it will be your turn! I’ll be asking you to share your strategies and ideas about how to be a successful Entrepreneur. What works for you, and what doesn’t? Tell us when we wrap up the series soon!