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How strategic thinking can help business people forecast growth

Most entrepreneurs have some vision of what they want to accomplish when they set up new businesses. To realize these visions, they must learn to think strategically and solve problems effectively. Both skills can help them see the way toward their long-term goals and manage the resources that will move their businesses forward.

Thinking strategically allows the committed businessperson to develop five key skills: organizing, observing, seeing the business from different viewpoints, determining the business's driving forces and envisioning an ideal position.

First, the organizational structure of a business should be determined by the businessperson's goals. When combined with resources and people, structure makes achieving the businessperson's goals easier.

Second, by making broad observations - that is, taking a bird's eye view - the businessperson can develop a wider perspective and see beyond the current horizon and existing possibilities.

Third, by looking at the business from the viewpoints of customers and clients, employees and contractors, the businessperson can see both the strengths and weaknesses in the business and thus help align the interests of everyone so that they serve the goals of the business.

Fourth, figuring out what is driving the business can help the businessperson match resources with goals. Which are more important - market forces, emerging markets or sales incentives? Which require the most resources?

Fifth, envisioning the organization's ideal position in the market helps establish a desired destination. This and the other skills can then enable the businessperson to pick the best route to the goal.

Strategic thinking is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. By developing the ability to see possibilities in imaginative ways, however, the businessperson can then see ways to motivate people in the business, ways to tackle problems more efficiently and ways to distinguish the value of various alternatives.

Source: Small Business Administration, "Forecasting for growth," accessed on April 9, 2015

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