It’s one of the first questions people often get asked when meeting someone for the first time – “So, what do you do?” – and a business owner is liable to get straight to the point.
“Some people might say they’re in the lawn care business,” said Jay Healy, president of Memphis-based Century Wealth Management. “But that doesn’t quantify what you do, who you do it for and how you do the business you have. There’s too much left unsaid.”
Of all the components of any owner’s plan to grow their business, “strategy” is one of the most important, in Healy’s eyes. Indeed, his firm is sponsoring the “strategy” component of a daylong workshop next month, sponsored in part by The Daily News, during which author, business coach and strategy expert Michael Synk will help underscore for business leaders how important good strategic thinking is to a business’ growth prospects.
The notion of a good strategy comprises one of four decision points Synk will lay out for attendees of The In-Synk Plan Forward Workshop, to be held Oct. 18 at the University of Memphis. It’s part of the Four Decisions model, a strategic planning model popularized by the book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” and offered through Gazelles International.
The model refers to the key decisions that leadership teams have to get right in order to grow, and those four decisions are built around people, strategy, execution and cash. Next month’s workshop is organized around those four decisions and teaches the participants how to address them better and then coordinate them into a one-page strategic plan.
“To me, strategy means recognizing who your customers are, what your product is and how you’re going to sell it, what the method of delivery is, what you’re going to charge for it and how much it costs you to deliver it,” Healy said. “It’s basically conceptualizing how your business runs.”
Where many business owners go astray – and what Synk is looking to improve – is the kind of strategic planning process where a consultant comes in and devises a three- to five-year plan and maps out each specific thing that will be done from now until the final point that could be years down the line.
Synk says the strategy decisions are driven by two questions: can you describe your strategy in one sentence or less? And, is everyone else using the same sentence?
“Strategy is the process of defining where you want to be 10 years from now and what specifically you are going to be doing in the next 90 days to get closer to 10 years from now,” Synk said. “The foundation of any organization’s strategy is its core values, core competencies, and its core purpose. All strategy is derived from a good understanding of these three things. If not, you are just acting tactically.
“Good strategic thinking helps you define how you are different and why your organization should be the preferred option for your target market.”
To Healy, the idea a business owner can always get from here to there with a strong level of visibility and clarity is misguided.
“What Michael promotes, and what I think is valuable is, ‘OK, what do we want to look like in 2015 and how do we get there,’” Healy said. “And you take the unknowable future out of the conversation and focus on the knowable present.”
The workshop will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Fogelman Executive Center at the University of Memphis and finish by 5 p.m. At the end of the day, attendees will leave in part with a baseline strategic plan and a checklist for execution.
In addition to The Daily News and Century Wealth Management, other sponsors of the event and the decision points those sponsors are tied to include Adams Keegan Inc. (People Sponsor), Decosimo Certified Public Accountants (Execution Sponsor) and Triumph Bank (Cash Sponsor).
Registration already is more than half full. The workshop is $500 per person, $400 per person for teams of four or more, and $400 for Young Presidents Organization, Entrepreneurs Organization, Vistage, Clarity Council and Society of Entrepreneurs Insight Group members. To learn more, visit www.in-synk.com or www.planforwardworkshop.com, call 488-8172 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.