July 26


How to do the right thing

I had a conversation with a prospective client yesterday. She mentioned she needed to know what job posting site would attract the best candidates.

That got me thinking.

Not about what the best job posting platform might be. I didn’t know enough about her business at that point to have any idea of the answer.

It got me thinking about owner’s tendency to focus on tactics. I realized this comes up a lot in my conversations.

Last week, I talked about getting beneath the surface to find and fix the real problems in your business. Today, I’m going to talk about a related issues I see with many of the owners I work with.

Not enough focus on whether the tactics support the strategy.

I suppose it’s easy to understand why this happens. Tactics are usually concrete things that someone can do and popular culture sends the message “people who take action are winners”.

Do something…anything is better than nothing! Seize the day! Heros do stuff! yada, yada, yada…

Yes, it’s true that, at some point, you do have to actually do something to get a result. But that something also needs to be the right thing.

How do you know what the “right thing” is?

That’s where strategy comes in.

As a business owner, you’re getting bombarded from all sides with the things you should do. Right. Now.

Well meaning associates or advisors will tell you you must do X.

  • Start running ads on facebook
  • Get a local sports star to make an appearance at your store
  • Do this particular promotion
  • Start making all your employees follow some procedure that worked for so-and-so

The list of specific prescriptions is endless.

All these ideas sound reasonable. And they’re coming from people you like and trust. So you decide to try many of them.

Often, to disappointing results.

Not only do these individual tactics often not work, but the pattern of trying one after the other becomes toxic.

  • Running in several random directions wastes time and resources, while not delivering much by way of results.
  • Do it enough, and employees stop listening. Why get onboard when you’ll be on to something else next week?
  • You get frustrated because you’re expending all this effort and not seeing results.

Next time you hear about something or someone tells you “you should try…”, do this.


Ask yourself these questions.

  1. What result is X supposed to achieve? Is that something my business wants or needs?
  2. How does X support my long-term vision and the brand positioning of my company?
  3. Does doing X make sense given my target market? The nature of my product? The skills of my employees?
  4. Does X compliment or work against other things I’m already doing?
  5. Do I have the resources to do X well?

If the answers to most or all these questions are positive, then go for it! You’re moving forward knowing that the tactic works with your strategy.

If the answers are negative, or if you aren’t clear on your strategy, then don’t proceed. If the problem is not having a clear strategy, then you need to urgently work on one.

if you need help with that, get in touch.


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