Getting the "right tools" for your business is a LOT less important than you've been led to believe.

It's actually a bit silly.

Most people are very focused on tools, rather than skills. But even if you already have the right tools, and you know how to use them, being able to apply them effectively in a project is a whole different level of expertise.

Knowing how to use a hammer--the handle goes in your hand, and then you hit things with the heavy end--doesn't make you capable of building a cabinet or a cartwheel.

Owning a hammer and knowing how to hit things with it is only a starting point. From there, it's still a long way to success. And the hammer doesn't give you a sense of direction; it won't tell you what you should hit, or when or how to do it.

It's the same in business.

If you start out by choosing a tool you've heard works wonders for other businesses, such as Facebook Live or Leadcrunch or Trello or HubSpot (to name just a few topping this year's "best tools for business" lists)...

...well, then you have a great tool, but you still don't know where you're going with it, or how to use it for the best results. A tool is not the foundation of a worthwhile business model and strategy! It's just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

Instead of picking a tool and then looking for ways to use it, pick a goal and look for ways to accomplish it.

Of course, the problem with this advice is that most people don't have a clear vision of what their goals and intentions are, let alone an idea of how to turn those goals into reality.

Getting the tools and learning how to use them isn't the hard part. The hard part is understanding the opportunities and potential of your business, and creating a strategy that builds on that potential so that you can accomplish your goals.

There are many ways you can either discover or come up with potentially successful strategies for the goals you want to accomplish, depending on how much time and money you have at your disposal.

3 Ways to Find Needle-Moving Strategies


This is the least expensive way to learn about business strategies, but also potentially the most time-consuming. You read books, follow experts online, and take a few classes. At the very least, I recommend Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model by John Mullins and Randy Komisar--the best business book, I've ever read. It will show you how to test and evaluate business ideas and strategies.

Other must-reads include The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow. I've also made book recommendations here and here.

Self-study may take the longest time, because these resources are not customized to your specific business, market, and situation. You'll have to do your own testing and modifications to suit the strategy to your own business.

Mastermind Group

Another way to discover strategies that could work for you is through mastermind groups. Through such groups, you'll meet and exchange notes with other entrepreneurs. You can look at strategies together and come up with ways to adapt them to each other's challenges. You can also get help from someone who's implemented a particular strategy themselves.

Business Coach/Mentor

The most expensive, but also potentially most effective, way to find strategies is through a business coach or mentor. This person will seek to understand your business, challenges, and goals, and will draw from their own expertise and experiences, as well as experiences of other businesses they've helped, to steer you towards the right direction.

You could figure all this stuff out on your own, if you really wanted to. But it would take a lot of time, and you'd have to go through a lot of trial and error to get the answers you need.

The simpler and more productive choice is to work with an expert who can help you crystallize your vision and create an action plan to bring that vision to life--someone who will support you in finding the right next steps faster and more easily, so that you can accelerate your progress.

For most businesses, it's more cost-effective to pay for fast, accurate advice than to waste time and resources struggling to do these things alone.