Where did that month go? Where did Google’s 10 years go?

I’m back…! Did you notice I had been away? Or were you so busy, or so wrapped up in your own holidays you didn’t care?

Well, I’ve been on an extended Summer break; I’ve spent lots of time with my son Elliot (aged 8) and I’ve also been thinking about the future of my business and planning new ventures and a slight change in direction. Partly, that has been forced by the loss of a couple of key clients recently; the credit crunch has wide ramifications I have found…! But it’s also good to have a break every now and then, take stock and re-invigorate your plans for your business.

Whilst I’ve been doing that I’ve been wondering if Google has been doing the same. After all, they celebrated 10 years in business yesterday. But in spite of dominating search and becoming one of the richest and biggest technology companies in the world, they live on a precipice.

Google’s problem is that it has all its eggs in one basket. They depend entirely on search advertising. If that bubble burst for any reason, Google would have no income. They are actually running a huge risk by basing their entire income on one stream; they need to diversify if they are to maintain stability in the long term.

The first signs of that strategy came into focus last week when they launched Chrome, their web browser. At the moment it’s no great shakes – it’s less flexible than Firefox, for instance, and has rather limited controls. But it is a start – and it shows us the direction they are going to take. By having its own browser it means Google will be in a position to offer software as service through its own technology – in other words, an alternative income stream to search advertising.

So, it seems that now that Google has reached its first decade it is growing up and developing a more stable future strategy. My own planning sessions in the past few weeks have hopefully done the same for me. So I just wanted to ask – how much time do you devote to strategic planning for your business? Or do you just react to events? And if you do that, how much control do you really have over your destiny?

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