6 Simple Ways to Strengthen Strategic Thinking For Your Small Business

Written by: Jackie Nagel
Originally published on June 9, 2015. Last updated April 15, 2022.

How to Improve Your Strategic ThinkingFor small business owners, the busy track of entrepreneurialism often railroads the daily thought process, providing little time for growth and strategic thinking. In fact, only four to seven percent of leaders are considered strategic thinkers, according to The Persimmon Group and Center for Creative Leadership.

The conventional ways of “how we’ve always done it” makes any small business sluggish. You want to push past the day-to-day minutia to project your business - and protect your business - for the future with a regime of regularly practiced strategic thinking.

1. Reflect on “Wasted” Time (Daily)

Wasted time is the moments not being spent productively - or even pleasurably. Like jumping from one task to another, being irritated by things you can’t control, or experiencing avoidable consequences due to a lack of strategic thinking.

At the end of each day, reflect on what can be done differently to avoid unproductive, costly time

2. Consider Egocentrism (Daily)

Personal bias and egocentrism keep you from seeing beyond self-favor. Yikes!

Rather than jump right into your day, spend time in the morning to consider how your bias and/or perspective might be getting in the way of achieving your goals.

What would a rational person with no emotional bias do in your situation?

3. Solve a Problem (Daily)

Make traffic work for you. Use your drive time for reflection and/or problem solving. Focus on a problem with a solution rather than waste time (See #1) thinking about situations beyond your control.

Consider your options for action in the short-term and long-term, as well as recognize realistic limitations of time, money, and influence.

4. Focus on Intellectual Standards (Weekly)

The Universal Intellectual Standards defined by the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Model (Paul and Elder, 2001) include:

  • Clarity

  • Precision

  • Accuracy

  • Relevance

  • Depth

  • Breadth

  • Logical

  • Significance

  • Fairness

  • Sufficiency

Select a focus each week to improve your habits in each one of these areas. For instance, during accuracy week, consider glitches, typos, missteps, and do-overs. Ask questions related to your accuracy, such as, 'did I spell check' or 'am I communicating instructions clearly for the reader'?  Include reading on the subject to move you outside of your understanding – and bias - of the subject.

5. Select an Intellectual Trait to Internalize (Monthly)

The Universal Intellectual Traits according to the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework include:

  • Humility

  • Courage

  • Empathy

  • Autonomy

  • Integrity

  • Perseverance

  • Reason

  • Fair-Mindedness

In order to hone your professional character, focus on excelling in one trait during your monthly planning. For instance, during your courage month, consider how you might push beyond your comfort zone to accomplish a truly amazing and inspiring feat. 

6. Analyze Business Influences (Quarterly)

Who - or what - motivates and inspires your actions? Look around you. What traits do you admire in others? Carefully select who - and what - you emulate. Become your own brand of entrepreneur.


Just like business branding, personal character and small business skills need constant refinement. By exercising these strategic thinking muscles, you are better prepared to address problems - and recognize opportunities - quickly and more effectively.

About the Author

Jackie Nagel is a guest author and founder of Synnovatia. She specializes in working with small business owners and entrepreneurs to develop strategic solutions to improve business performance and accelerate business growth.

Topics: Small Business
Originally published on June 9, 2015. Last updated April 15, 2022.


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