The Importance Of Planning Ahead In Business

business planning

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail.’ In business, it’s true for sure. Whether you’re a solo business operator or building a growing enterprise, the best way to move forward and achieve your goals is by planning ahead.

But what does it mean to plan ahead in business? And how do you do it? Planning ahead isn’t only about looking ahead. It’s about setting and achieving a series of long and short-term goals that will propel your business forward.

If you’re not sure where to start with planning ahead in your business, I’ve got you covered. In this post, I’ll share my insights into long and short-term planning in business and show you how getting the balance right will be the key to your immediate and future success.

The essence of planning in business

At the heart of it, planning is all about charting a course to reach whatever goals you want for your business. It’s about setting objectives and finding the best way to make them happen. This includes deciding what resources you’ll need to achieve your goals, considering any risks that could get in your way, and keeping track of how things are going as you make your way along the course you’ve plotted.

Planning ahead reduces stress and gives you the peace of mind that only comes when you know you’re in control. When you plan ahead, you can handle unexpected bumps in the road – because you planned for them. When you’ve planned ahead, you know where you’re going, how to get there, and why.


Long-term planning to set a course for the future

Long-term planning is about the bigger picture for your business. It’s about looking past the next few months and thinking about where you want to be in 12 months or  years. With long-term planning, you’re anticipating future trends, thinking about where YOU want to be down the track and defining a direction for the future of your business.

With long-term planning, you:

  • create a clear vision and direction for your business
  • consider the resources you might need to get there
  • think about market trends and anticipate future changes
  • make informed decisions about the actions you take in your business
  • have a strong foundation for business growth.

Once you have your long-term plans and vision, you can start thinking about the steps you need to get there. That’s where short-term planning comes in.

Taking action:

To help you visualise what you might want for your business in the long term, write one sentence to describe your business today. Now, write a sentence to describe your business 12 months from now. Now, write a sentence to describe your business 5 years from now. What’s different? What do you need to change? How can you change that?


Short-term planning for immediate results

Once your long-term vision is sorted, it’s time to break the work into smaller chunks and milestones. That’s what short-term planning is all about. It’s the tactical implementation of your strategy from your long-term planning. It’s about doing what you need to do to achieve your long-term goals.

A great way to do short-term planning is to plan by quarter. If you want to be somewhere in 12 months or 5 years, what must you achieve each quarter to get there? Do you need to introduce a new service? Do you need to create and promote a new lead magnet to attract a new market? Do you need to build unique expertise? Once you know what you need to achieve each quarter, you can break it down into daily, weekly or monthly tasks.

With short-term planning, you:

  • build in time to work on your business and move things forward
  • know what you need to do day-by-day and quarter-by-quarter
  • give your team clarity and focus to achieve incremental objectives
  • bring in resources if and when you need them
  • make progress toward achieving your longer-term goals.

Short-term planning is the day-to-day, week-to-week and quarter-to-quarter action to get you where you want to go.

Taking action:

To help you decide what short-term plans you might want for your business in the immediate future, think of one thing you want to have achieved 12 months from now. Now, think about what you need to do to achieve that goal. Break that action into 4 mini-goals: one for each quarter of the next 12 months. Once you have those 4 mini-goals, think about what you must do each day, week and month to make them happen.


Balancing short and long-term planning

Sometimes, it can be hard to understand the difference between long-term and short-term plans. While they serve different purposes, they both help your business move purposefully toward its future success.


Vision and direction

Long-term plans: give you an overarching vision and direction.

Short-term plans: act as stepping stones to achieve that vision.

For example:

Your long-term plan might be to be a market leader in a new service you’ve just launched. Your short-term plans might be to create and promote a series of content that introduces this new service to the audience you’re trying to reach.


Allocating resources

Long-term plans: guide your resource needs for things like investment, outsourcing, development, or research.

Short-term plans: ensure you have the resources you need to meet pressing needs and operate efficiently.

For example:

Your long-term plan might be to diversify your revenue by launching a course or membership. Your short-term plans might be to carve out time to develop the course content and outsource the production of course materials.


Stability and flexibility

Long-term plans: give you stability and allow you to keep moving towards an ultimate goal, even if you get off course a little in the short term.

Short-term plans: allow you to be flexible when things go wrong without stopping you from working towards your longer-term goals.

For example:

Your long-term plan might be to build a library of social media and blog content your audience can rely on. Your short-term plans might be to batch-write your posts so that if you get sick, you can still put your content out there and work towards your ultimate goal.


They go together

Combining long-term and short-term planning is the key to getting ahead in business. They go together (just like Meredith and Cristina, Rory and Lorelai, and Elsa and Anna). Long-term planning without short-term action achieves nothing. Short-term planning without a long-term goal is a wasted effort.

If you get your long and short-term plans right, you can achieve your goals today and greater success in the future.


Do you need help planning ahead in your business?

When it comes to achieving business goals and growth, planning ahead means getting ahead. But planning takes dedicated effort, time and consistency, which can be challenging among the day-to-day demands of delivering your client work. Especially when you’re doing it alone.

But you don’t have to do it alone anymore.

Business Tides Community is my new and exclusive online haven for small business owners ready to get serious about planning and executing their business growth strategies. In Business Tides Community, you’ll find a network of small business champions ready to help raise the tide for all by sharing insights, learning from successes and failures and working together on their planning journeys.

And we’d love to see you there.

Learn more about how Business Tides Community can help you plan ahead, get ahead and stay ahead.



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