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Thinking and doing, striking a balance

All businesses benefit from time input. A question that often comes up is "how do I make time to think?"

In pre start up businesses, it is often the case that thinking time is the time that is put into a developing a strategy, or business plan. In small business there then has to be a transition to doing. And, if your being successful doing then takes over. A lot.

When you're "doing" a lot, servicing customers, marketing, or just doing the administration behind a business it is nearly impossible to find the time to have time outside the business, let alone find some time to be strategic.

Businesses, successful businesses need strategic thinking time. There are examples of businesses that grow organically, responding to what opportunities are available to them. Often this is the type of growth that is very sustainable. But super successful businesses employ strategic thinkers, and managers to ensure that the business is as efficient as it can be.

The stereotypical executive on the golf course exists for a reason. Networking opportunities, making new business opportunities, are valuable. But, also time to contemplate away from emails, phone calls and coffee machine banter is important.

As a small business it can be difficult to step away from a sale, or delivering the sale to ask yourself those same questions. And often this becomes overlooked.

The danger in doing without thinking is that eventually a business can head down a cul de sac, and the need to evolve is realised too late. A bit like the global warming paradigm - when there is enough evidence for leaders to accept that we need to change, it may be too late to actually do something about it.

Spending time, diarised time, approaching new ways of looking at the same business with a different person is an excellent tool. We often hear the phrase "blue sky thinking" or people acting as a "sounding board". This is a very important part of a business owners role, is there a way to be better. We live in a competitive environment, and the natural cycle of business means that evolution is essential.

In the same way as car manufacturers spend time and money on research and development, small businesses can use a number of tools to stay up with the need to evolve. Conferences, exhibitions, mentors and familiarisation trips are all examples of ways to refresh your thinking in a way to keep inspired to do. Just like training a muscle to be able to work harder, there are times when things need to be pushed, and then there are times when recovery is needed.

Developing a thinking plan or method for creating a thinking time is definitely something that all businesses, and leaders should adopt. And sometimes, having this supported by someone external to the business is good sense.

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