When you set up a new business it is hard to plan for the long term. You may have a rough idea of where you want to be in 12 months, 2 years or 5 years but it is hard to focus on more than the short term at the very beginning. For a start you have to make the business a success. Planning for where you will be in five years’ time is great unless you have a business that doesn’t go to plan from the outset.
How will you know where you are going if you don’t have a destination in mind?
So when should you look to the future and start planning for the long term? The short answer is all the time. How will you know where you are going if you don’t have a destination in mind? It very much depends on the type of business that you are in as to how far ahead you can plan. If you offer a product or service that has a short shelf life then you need to be making longer term plans, if you are in an industry like events you will need to make sure that you bear in mind how often you have money coming in. What will you do once what you currently offering is no more?
You need to be constantly planning, re-visiting and updating your business plan. So many things change for the better or for the worse. You may fall short of your 6 month plan and need to re-assess and look at your 12 month goals. On the flipside of that you may have an absolutely storming 6 months and achieve well beyond your goals and targets. At this point you will want to stretch the goals for the longer term.
Re-addressing your plans doesn’t mean you have failed
If you don’t reach where you want to in the first 6 months it doesn’t mean you have failed. You may have just fallen short or missed just one of many goals. You may have to take stock and re-address the plans. Once you have set more realistic goals you will get such a sense of achievement when you achieve them.
Long term planning will give you a sense of security
Sounds strange but if you see yourself in this business as a short term arrangement then you won’t give it everything you have. Having a longer term goal in mind will help to motivate, inspire and drive you to that long term ambition. You may have a plan to be turning over XXX amount or you may want to have paid off your mortgage by a certain point. Keeping these goals clearly set out will help you to focus and work towards them. Don’t think about today or even tomorrow. Think about the future!