• Dr Lance Knaub

Strategic Thinking Skills For New Business Owners- The Essential Steps


When I first encounter new business owners, I can feel their enthusiasm and excitement about the idea of their new business. They have identified a problem or need in the marketplace and can’t wait to launch. A rookie mistake that’s all too common, diving into a business without applying strategic thinking to their business playbook or plans.

As a new business owner, you may want to jump into action without strategically thinking about future obstacles, the challenges of limited resources, or the necessary steps to get from one milestone to the next. You will need to develop strategic thinking skills to set up your business for long-term success.


There is nothing wrong with having excitement for the business. But it will take a lot more than just excitement and hope to make a business successful and sustainable. It will take a change in how you think, approach, and plan each step for your business.


In this article, I will share the key elements to strategic thinking and how to develop these vital business skills.


But first, why do new business owners need to learn how to think strategically?


Why Business Owners Need Strategic Thinking Skills


According to an SBA publication of Frequently Asked Questions in 2018, 80% of new businesses survive their first year, but the survival rate drops dramatically as the years progress. And by the 10-year mark, the survival rate is in the single digits. A sobering data point, but without proper planning, you are ultimately planning for your business to close.


The sole reason why I wrote the book The 4% Break-Thru, that guides small business owners and entrepreneurs on not becoming another business failure statistic.


Developing strategic thinking skills could be the difference between a business surviving a couple of years or a couple of decades. Applying strategic plans of action today could set up your business for sustainability and growth.


What is Strategic Thinking for Business?


What does it mean to be strategic? It means to have a plan of action to avoid potential pitfalls while still taking calculated risks. In a simple way of putting it, you’ve thought of every which way of how things could go wrong while still managing a win.


So how does strategic thinking translate into business? Here are the four key elements:


1. Breaking Down the Big Picture into Steps


You had the vision for the business and can clearly see the steps it will take to produce, perform at scale and how your product and services will distribute out to the world.


2. Dealing with Limited Resources


Every new business faces the challenge of making every dollar count. You rely on being creative with the resource you have access to (or yet to have) and not being afraid to think outside the box.


3. Solving for the Future


You aren’t just building a business for today but always thinking of the future. You can predict the changes in your industry, and you are never intimidated by technology. You accept that changes are inevitable and plan to stay flexible as the business moves forward.


4. Implementing the Solution or Process


Identify who and where to invest time and resources. After making this decision take action! ONLY after you have identified how to invest the time and resources- take action!


The Essential Steps to Develop Strategic Thinking


The four key elements for strategic thinking for business planning don’t instantly happen. It takes time for a new business owner to develop strategic thinking skills, later becoming second nature or a daily habit of actions.


Luckily, there are ways to develop strategic thinking skills that you can start exercising today.


Here are four simple ways to start integrating and cultivating a new way of thinking about your business.


1. Ask Questions and Be Curious


This may sound counter-intuitive as an adult about to launch a business, but it’s time to go back to when you were a kid, and you were ridiculously curious. Going back to the basics of asking questions that begin with; who, how, where and when will prompt you not to assume the apparent answers or settle for the ordinary. Staying curious will help stretch your thinking beyond standard solutions and answers.

2. Consider the Opposition

This may be a hard pill to swallow for a new business owner who is unyielding with opposing ideas or concepts. But learning from a different point of view or listening to a contradictory theory could help uncover potential blindspots you were unaware of. Gaining a new perspective from unforeseen places could save you from potential pitfalls or setbacks.


3. Plan for Changes

“The Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus

Prepare for the possibility of changes in your business- big or small. Prepare to pivot and possibly course correct. The best way to deal with change is to plan for them by coming up with backup scenarios.


4. Visualize the Process

Creative thinkers will favor this exercise, but easy enough for anyone to practice. Take a moment to draw out the different processes in your business. It could be as simple as using circles, arrows, and triangles to represent key points in action. If basic shapes don’t inspire you, use an illustration of a tree or house. Anything that is relevant and relates to your business that communicates actions and processes. Seeing your business mapped out can help identify missing parts or steps.


How Do You Become a Strategic Thinker?


Three ways you can start becoming a strategic thinker.

Slow Down


It’s easy to get excitable or want to jump into a problem and fix it, but the best way to build that muscle of strategic thinking is by slowing down. Take a moment to think before you speak or take action.


Write It Down


Every new business owner should have a notebook or journal nearby to jot down ideas or new information. Getting into the habit of writing down your thoughts and reprioritizing them before taking action will help build that discipline of becoming a strategic thinker.


Consult with a Mentor or Business Coach


You are pouring your energy, time, and money into this new venture, but you do not have to go into it alone. Seek out advice and help from business owners who are where you want to be one year from now.


Looking for a group of like-minded business owners and professionals with thought leadership experience. Learn more about the JOLT Business Vision.


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