Although Tofurious is my fourth business, and a bit of a muse, I still have to conduct strategic planning. It’s important.

Everyone goes through this. I for one undergo this tormenting struggle all of the time.

  • Should I expand into this area?
  • Will this action dilute my brand?
  • Is this something that is parallel to my company’s doctrine?

Every company needs a goal. Without a goal, you would lead the company in all sorts of directions with no real destination. Strategic planning is the roadmap and steps to achieve the goal.

road

Goals

Goals are like the end-game prize of a race. They drive everything.

Making money is not a goal. Making money is the result of executing your goal.

There are essentially three items to consider when establishing goals:

Vision
A company’s vision statement is a long-range, potentially impossible aspiration.

It articulates the ultimate goal — the dream — and communicates the company’s primary values. As a fundamental element of any business, a vision statement requires careful consideration because it will ideally serve as a beacon of inspiration to guide leaders and employees through the choppy waters of days and years — perhaps for the entire lifespan — of the business.

Mission
A company’s mission statement defines its purpose — what it intends to do. A well-crafted mission launches the journey toward the vision. It helps you prioritize the use of your resources and develop time-related milestones for your business.

I create marketing strategies for smart photographers. This is what I do – not this week or this year, but always.

Market Position
With a firm vision and a well-considered mission statement, it’s time to figure out where your company best fits in the marketplace.

wedding photographers

Your market position goal centers on how you want the market — your potential clients and even your competitors — to perceive you in terms of your status and capability in the field of business.

As mentioned earlier, I write for smart photographers. Therefore, dumb photographers don’t read this blog. I kid, I kid.

Strategies

Strategies support the goal. Strategies define what actions must be taken to achieve the goal.

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
— Sun Tzu in The Art of War

Let’s imagine that your goal is to be healthy. Strategies would include nourishing your mind, body and soul. Tactics are …

Tactics

Tactics are the actionable steps that support the strategies.

Using my above example of being healthy, tactics for the three strategies might be —

  • To nourish the mind, you must meditate.
  • To nourish the body, you must exercise and eat healthily.
  • To nourish the soul, you must love and be loved.

To tell someone without knowing his or her background to simply love in order to be healthy is just as preposterous as suggesting a photographer to triple one’s prices to be competitive without understanding the company’s circumstances. Sounds pretty silly, right?

So, before you take action (any action), decide what strategy it answers and which goal it supports. When you have everything mapped out, you’ll get complete clarity.

new york
View of Central Park from Mandarin Oriental NYC on a clear night

If these concepts are a bit elusive, you’re not alone. Fact of the matter is there are no direct answers for strategies. Each situation is different.

Hey Lawrence, I’m not sure if I told you this before, but I have to say that I really appreciate the fact that you’re able to teach and share without telling people what to do. You give the necessary tools to make it happen, yet leave it up to the “student” to do with it what they may.

This is very effective for me because it helps me use the tools in the way that will work for me, which may be different than how you or anyone else may use them.

I know there are a ton of people who ask you for specific instructions on how to implement ideas, strategies, etc. But those that figure out how to leverage knowledge and ideas for themselves will be more successful.

Thanks again man!
Chris Holt

I dedicated a whole chapter in my book to help photographers define these items amongst other things.

Ciao,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. There’s no place like home. Happy to settle down from my travels for a bit and enjoy a macchiato before heading out to Washington DC for Independence Day. I’m hoping for fireworks and a chat with Honest Abe.