So, you’re running a business with your spouse! Congrats!! It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Now I have to say that it isn’t for everyone. If you’re still deciding whether entering a business relationship with your spouse is right for you, take 10 minutes to read my article about my top 3 pros and cons to running a successful business with your spouse.
In order to ensure that you thrive in your marriage and business, it is essential that you schedule regular business strategy sessions with your spouse. Now you might be asking, what is a strategy session?
From George Day’s simplest definition, “Strategy is a series of integrated actions in pursuit of competitive action”. In laymen’s terms, it means, picking a direction and going for it!
Therefore, a strategy session is an opportunity for you and your spouse to figure where you’re going, and how you’re going to go for it. If you need it in corporate speak, it means setting your business goals and developing an action plan to achieve them.
Now, are you thinking…
“Strategy sessions are too long! I don’t have hours and hours to do a strategy session!”
“Aren’t strategy sessions only for large multinationals?”
Let’s set two things straight:
- If you schedule regular weekly strategy sessions, all you need is 30 minutes
- Strategy sessions are for every business. As Yogi Berra said, “if you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.”
Strategy sessions are a cinch, if you follow my top three tips…
1. Set an agenda for the meeting – When my husband and I first held our first strategy session back in the day, it was a disaster because we both came unprepared. We turned it into a casual discussion at home after we dropped the kids off at school, and thought we would just talk things out. I had items I wanted to talk about, but didn’t give him any context beforehand. As a result, we spent quite a bit of time giving background and context to items we wanted to discuss. This of course, wasted a lot of valuable time, and we were unable to make decisions on items that needed our consensus.
TIP: Stick to the three most important items, and send any background information to each other, at least 3 days prior to the Strategy Session. There are three questions we always ask during our strategy sessions. Download my Fail Proof Strategy Session Check List to ensure that you are on track!
2. Send a calendar invite– Choose a time and date that works for both of you that you can both commit to, on a weekly basis. Now I say weekly because it’s crucial as business owners to take a step back from the daily operations and ask yourselves where the business is heading, what priorities should you be focusing on, and assessing whether you are heading in the right direction.
The less frequent you have strategy sessions, the longer the duration of these sessions need to be. It’s like multi-tasking. Have you ever tried it? You’re working on something, then get distracted and start working on a new task. 10 minutes later, you’re back at the initial task, but have to spend 10 minutes to remember where you left off? That’s how I see strategy sessions. If you are able to keep it up on a weekly basis, you get better at identifying problems you need to discuss and resolve, and reach your business goals quicker.
TIP: If it’s on both your calendars, it’s less likely that you or your spouse will cancel the session.
3. Write notes and follow up – Having worked for large corporations and been assigned the role of taking meeting minutes for over 10 years, I’ve learnt that things don’t get done until it’s written down,and assigned an owner and deadline. How many times have you been to a meeting and there’s that one item that stays on the agenda for months! Execution is just as important as strategy!
TIP: Ensure action items are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely)
As an entrepreneur, I know that every minute is precious. There is no right or wrong way to plan your strategic sessions. The important thing to note that it’s important to take a step back from the daily operations and look at how you’re going to reach your business goals, on a regular basis. You and your spouse both need to know what is expected of each other, be involved with these strategy sessions together.
About the Author
Natalie Lowe is managing partner of The Orangeblowfish, a creative branding agency with a strong presence in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Natalie has 20 years of experience in delivering effective global marketing and communications programs for Fortune 500 and startups. Natalie is responsible for driving business growth, client services, operational management and staff development. Natalie has been based in China for over ten years and speaks three languages fluently: English, Mandarin and Cantonese.