A leading cause of company failure in Australia that has been swapping between first and second place over the last seven years is ‘poor strategic management of business’. I find this very interesting. In fact, the top five nominated causes are all within the business owners’ control, with only the sixth being ‘poor economic conditions’. These stats are taken from before COVID-19 so it will be interesting to see how a global health pandemic impacts on these trends and especially the role and impact of government stimulus packages.

Given the economic backdrop we are operating against the need to be organised, to have a vision for your business and to make time to sit back and reflect at a strategic level is even more important.


In this article, I invite you to check in on yourself, your team and your business—a quick strategic check-up.

How are you travelling?

Now is a great time to take stock. How are your stress levels?

Are you making sure you take time out from work to relax and recharge?

Do you have the energy to maintain a strategic focus as well as being operational?

Most of my small business clients balance the ongoing juggle between wearing their strategic and operational hats. It can be tiring, and without being fresh and recharged, there is the danger of the strategic hat being left on the hook for too long. Pick three things that you are doing well and one thing to change.

When was the last time you checked in with your team?

Even if you are a micro-business owner, you can check in with your suppliers, your professional and personal support networks and your friends. How are their stress levels?

What time do they leave work?

Are they looking after themselves?

They often play a key role in helping solo operators to run a successful business especially at the moment.

Making the time to check in with them also provides the opportunity to reflect with them on what is working and to discuss ideas for streamlining and improvement. Encourage them to pick one thing to change in the next month that will help their health and well-being.

Can you answer these questions: where do you want to be in six months and where do you want to be in ten years?

Financial viability creates the need to have a clear short-term focus. If the money is not coming in and the bills are mounting up, this demands your attention. If there is more coming in than going out, it can be easy to just sit back and enjoy.

What is your long-term strategy?

What are your plans for growth?

What is your appetite to innovate, bring in new partners, grow the team?

Are you happy to just go with the flow, or do you want to stand out and lead the field?

Lead by example, be advocates for positive mental and physical health and well-being. The stats around the amount of lost work time due to stress are alarming. Be proactive: make sure the foundations are in place for taking care of each other. Then build on these foundations to create a strategic long-term view of the business.

I am loving some of my projects at the moment where I am supporting small business owners to establish the viability of collaborative ideas and business models. They have realised that on their own, strategically they can only achieve a certain amount. But when they work together, they can achieve much more.

Clare Fountain