The power of strategic thinking to your business

Strategic Thinking

Strategic ThinkingI’m sometimes asked by the owners of IT businesses that I work with to share my thoughts on some of the key traits in the most successful IT businesses I come across in my day-to-day work.

High on the list of traits I share with them is strategic thinking. The ability for the business leader/owner to take time out to plan where they want their business to go, and then to measure their progress against that plan – re-adjusting their course as necessary.

Do you have a plan for your business?

What is strategic thinking? Well, do you have a plan for your business? Many of us think we do, but upon further examination of where we actually spend our time it may surprise us to learn that we are often too busy reacting to what falls in our laps rather than intentionally working towards what we want to achieve.

We can often struggle to make the time to think about whether what we are doing on a day-to-day basis is actually moving us towards what we want to achieve with our businesses.

In short, we fall into the illusion that because we are busy, we’re being productive and working towards our goals.

How to tell if you’re busy being busy

This isn’t surprising giving that most of us who own businesses are go-getters – wanting to being doing rather than planning. But this attitude can lead to us being busy being busy. Filling our days reacting to demands on our time rather than making informed decisions over what is best.

How can you tell if you’re busy being busy? Some early indicators are that you:-

  • Skip lunch to “catch up” with work
  • Work late hours and weekends
  • Cancel non-client appointments at short notice
  • Can’t remember the last book you read or Podcast you listened to
  • Book time for learning – such as Conferences and planning sessions – but cancel them at the last minute “due to workload”

It’s easy to be intentional over the direction of your business when things are slow and you have no demands on your time. But it’s worth remembering that the work will always expand to fill the time available – and then some. It’s how you cope when you’re busy that determines your success. Are you busy working towards your goals, or simply reacting to what falls in your lap?


The most successful IT businesses are intentional over what they want to achieve. They take time out to measure their progress against their goals – be it weekly, monthly or quarterly. They don’t just react to what is in front of them. They take time out to consider what their goals are and how they can achieve those goals – not only when things are busy but especially when things are busy.
Take a moment to consider for yourself – is the work you’re going to do today moving you towards achieving your goals, or are you simply doing the work because it is in front of you?

photo credit: archer10 (Dennis) via photopin cc


  • Richard Tubb2014-06-25 18:55:23

    Liz - you've stumbled across the secret of this blog. If you replace the word "IT Business" with "Business" then the tips I share are usually equally applicable. ;-) Knowing when to say no is a hugely valuable skill. I actually wrote about this in a separate blog post - The value in learning to say No

  • Liz Dexter2014-06-19 10:07:52

    Good points, and of course they don't only apply to IT businesses. I have been monitoring my progress since I started in terms of income earned, and I also periodically review my customer base, working towards the situation I now have where I do have a life and balance (most of the time - we all get busy times when all the pre-booked work slips and slides then comes in at once) and a good range of regulars in different areas and new clients fitted in around them. This allows me to, for example, ramp things up around holidays so I can cover my holiday pay and paying for the trip, while not working while I'm actually on holiday. It is possible to do this, it just does take a bit of strategic thinking (and knowing when to say no!).

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