One of your most important roles, in the multifaceted job that is business owner, is as planner. You need to have long term plans for your business, and they’re more important than the short term decisions you face each day. While, especially in the early days of your business, those immediate problems can be existential threats, if you’re so consumed by solving them that you can’t look at the long term view, you could be creating more serious issues for yourself in that long term – when you’ll have much more to lose!
If you’ve got plans that you’re working toward, then you can ensure that your short term solutions tie into the realisation of those longer term plans – or at least don’t undermine it. You’re not just running a business for one day in a vacuum. You’re building a brand that will stand the test of time. Today we’re taking a look at how your long term planning process works.
Planning Around the Competition
One of the biggest factors influencing your future success is the competition – the other businesses that exist in your space, be that geographical or notional, who are trying to lock down the same customers that you are.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t outcompete your rivals on every level – in most markets there is space for many different businesses to exist and thrive. But you do need to know how your most significant competitors are likely to react in different circumstances if you’re going to create a viable competitor strategy, and this is where wargaming comes in. This is a service strategy consultants offer that lets you see how the consequences play out for your competitors in different hypothetical situations. If you know how they’re likely to jump, you can make plans that will take advantage of that. If you’ve got the budget for some expert strategy consulting, it’s well worth considering.
Understanding Your Customers
Your customers are the other vital half of the market you need to understand when you’re making plans for the future. Comprehensive market research programmes – or access to them – help you discover what customers value in, and want from, your industry in general and your business in particular. This helps you make plans that play to your strengths.
One vital thing it’s important to build into your decision making process is what you actually want. The reason many people opt for the challenges of entrepreneurship over the relative stability of being employed by someone else is for the freedom to define your own future, so before you lay any plans, think about what you want from that future!
There are no wrong answers here, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. If, fundamentally, you’re happy with a stable business that provides a steady wage then you need to make different plans than if you have ambitions to found a huge multinational! Make sure you’re building towards the future you want, not the one you’ve been convinced is correct.