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Time flies at work when you're having funIt’s undeniable that a successful strategy can reap huge rewards for a business. The difficulty, however, is that very few business owners know what a strategy should be or how it should be implemented. Even the word itself is often used as just another corporate catchphrase, a buzzword whose true meaning and significance has been lost. It’s no wonder that so many strategies fail when the guiding principles required to devise and execute them are so vague.

One of our core principles at Buffini & Company is to live what we teach. Not only have I had to examine the business strategy for our company to thrive, but I’ve had to ensure that the chosen strategy is in alignment with how we teach our coaching clients to run their businesses. In essence, effective strategy is about recognizing the difficulties facing a business and then formulating a coherent and resolute approach to overcome these. Our coaches help our clients do this every day and it stays top-of-mind as one of my main priorities as a leader. If you’re in a position of leadership, or self-employed, you’re likely having to devise and revise your business strategy regularly. But simply devising a cohesive response to potential issues or problems isn’t enough.

To be truly successful, a strategy must be underpinned by passionate and committed implementation. Many well-intentioned strategies fail because they aren’t properly executed. If a strategy is to work, then well-bolstered supports, defined guidelines and a solid framework must be in place. If not, then a strategy isn’t worth the paper it’s written on—and a business will pay in both time and money.

To ensure that your strategy won’t fall prey to the many traps and pitfalls it will invariably encounter along the way, you must use a map. Just as you wouldn’t set off on a road trip without directions to guide you, you shouldn’t try to drive your business forward without knowing how you’re going to get to where you want to go. It’s vital to develop and refine the specific processes and tactics required to negotiate and sidestep the potholes that your business will meet on the road so that you can achieve your desired strategic outcomes. As Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Above all else, a strategy’s success or failure relies on action. It’s an inconvenient truth that it’s easier to make a strategy than it is to make a strategy work. But talking about what needs to be done will get you nowhere. Action is what sets a successful strategy apart from one that is doomed to fail. It isn’t always easy. Executing strategy is a step-by-step process that takes time, determination and a series of expertly coordinated, disciplined and intelligent actions. But nothing is more valuable to your business.

So know what you want to accomplish, set out the tactics you will employ and methodically track your progress. Then your strategy will be truly effective—and your business will be on course to succeed.

Buffini_Dermot_2015Dermot Buffini is CEO of Buffini & Company.

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