3Q10 Strategic Issues for Small Businesses

14 September 2010

Well, the pressure has lightened a bit on the management teams I’m working with for Q3. Of course, that means this is the right time to address all those deeper issues that made things harder to deal with over the last two years while things have been in such tumult (“it sure would have been good if we had dealt with this earlier,” folks were saying then).

But I’m a realist, and the fact is that folks need a bit of a breather. The good news is that leaders don’t have to be completely in sales-and-crisis mode and can spend a little time on the evolution of their business.
In keeping with the spirit of my clients’ planning sessions this quarter, I’m going to keep things on the shorter side. The key issues my clients are focused on this quarter include:
Staying on sales. Sales are still taking significant time and effort, so companies are staying focused on driving revenue.
Talent management. My clients are continuing to focus on improving the performance of their people. It’s still not holistic, but it is progress. They’re putting attention on team dynamics, management training and personal development and not spending much time on recruiting and compensation.
New markets/businesses. My clients are, in some ways, back in start-up mode – launching new products, entering new markets and developing businesses around those.
Board of directors. Several clients are implementing or building up their board-level capabilities so the leadership has better-quality guidance and there is a separate entity overseeing the highest corporate-level strategic issues.
Managing investments. Cash continues to be tight, and so leadership teams are tracking their investments more closely than in the past and rebalancing their spending based on the results they’re seeing.
This will no doubt be another interesting quarter when management and strategy will matter.