What Does Strategic Really Mean?

Strategic may be one of the most over-used words in both business and in law.  In fact, I may over-use it in this blog – after all, this is only my sixth post, and I’ve already used it in two titles.  The reason is that I believe thinking and acting strategically – in business and legal mattes – is perhaps the most important factor in determining the success or failure of a business.

What does strategic mean, and why is it so important to think and act strategically?  Companies form strategic alliances, have strategic partners, engage in strategic planning, seek strategic investors, etc.  Strategic, as I mean it, is a specific and well thought out or targeted approach adopted by your specific business to address a specific circumstance or bring about a specific outcome that is optimum for you – and better than the alternatives.

Let’s discuss strategic partners and  investors.  Strategic partners and investors differ from others by the simple fact that they bring unique and valuable attributes to your business that others don’t – not just money or products.  These may include:  relationships with potential customers or suppliers; management or industry expertise or experience; engineering, design or other skills that you may be lacking; complimentary products or knowledge; intellectual property; overseas contacts, capital resources or other factors.

The point here is when you’re considering entering into a relationship with a partner or investor, focus on more than just the product or money they bring to the table.  Chances are you have several parties that can bring those things.  Consider whether they bring other factors that can add additional value to your company without adding cost.  If they can, those are truly strategic relationships – and the ones that will benefit your company the most.

Strategic Relationships – Connections and Networks Matter

One of the most important determinants of success for a business is its ability to think and act strategically and establish strategic relationships. This is true in product development, sales and marketing, distribution, financing, joint ventures, etc. It should also be true in establishing relationships with consultants and service providers like lawyers. 

Your lawyer, for example, should bring more value to your business than general legal expertise.  After all, all licensed Iowa lawyers went to an accredited law school, and those who work at the larger respected firms probably got good grades and almost certainly have legal expertise – even specialized expertise. So what more can or should they bring to the table? 

In addition to expertise, your lawyer (and hopefully your other consultants) should provide an innovative problem solving approach, a can-do attitude, a stellar work ethic, AND a network of connections that can provide additional resources and value to your company.  In my case, those connections and relationships are close and personal and include accountants, bankers, investment bankers, placement agents, business brokers, venture capitalists, private equity groups, angel investors, technologists, trade associations, legislators, agency heads, economic developers, PR consultants and others, including any and all of my clients. Any time I believe an introduction or referral to one of the people or companies in my network will benefit someone else in my network, I make that connection. After all, this is Iowa– if you have character, integrity and professional talent, it’s easy to build a valuable network for your benefit AND for the benefit of your customers and clients – why not “pay it forward” and multiply the value of your network by sharing it with others. In the end, what goes around comes around.

If my network or connections can ever be useful to you, please feel free to contact me.  It’s just another example of the thinking behind BizB4Law.