To achieve anything in business (or life more generally) you need three things:
1. Clear goals
2. Appropriate strategies
3. Effective tactics
Your goal is your destination, your strategy is the map for getting there, and your tactics are the things that you do to follow your map and complete your journey .
I'll be the first to admit that this is pretty clichéd, but here's the key point: your tactical execution is only as good as your strategy, and your strategy is only as good as your goals. So if you set fuzzy goals or pick a strategy that isn't aligned to what you're trying to achieve, then it won't really matter how well you execute.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of entrepreneurs are execution junkies. They're so obsessed with tactical concerns that they lose sight of what they're trying to achieve or whether they're even on the right track.
Case in point: I once worked with a business owner who was planning to retire in several years and needed his business to create more ownership wealth. Like many entrepreneurs, he had adopted a market penetration strategy by default because he assumed that more revenue would magically solve everything. Consequently, he spent most of his time encouraging his sales team to get more customers.
The problem was that his strategy was entirely inappropriate. His business had a long history of barely breaking even regardless of whether his sales were up or down. Instead of getting more customers, he needed to fix the pricing, costing and cash flow problems that were hamstringing his company's ability to generate the free cash flows that would enable him to achieve financial independence.
He agreed to a hard strategic pivot and we got to work on preparing a proper budget, introducing robust cost controls, updating his pricing, and improving his stock management system. Within six months, he grew his net profit margin from a historic average of zero to 10% (which we had worked out was a key target for creating the wealth that he needed given his level of turnover).
Business owners often joke about how they can't see the wood for the trees, but few bother to step back from the foliage. When was the last time you got some perspective?