12/31/2019 – What will your business look like?
The last day of 2019….it’s not a typo. 3 years from now, what will that look like for you? What will your business look like? Why should you care? With the end of the year approaching, not only are we thinking about the Holidays, but we naturally reflect on the past year and start thinking about the New Year.
But, how much more could we benefit if we were intentionally looking a little further down the road?
The best Financial Advisors spend very little time focusing on 12-month investment goals. Seriously, have you ever seen a financial ad asking, “Where do you want to be in 12 months?” Depending on your age, their focus is usually a financial goal that is years or maybe even decades ahead of you. In fact, they are one of the best examples of an industry that creates nearly all their strategies around some type of long term plan.
However, in the business world, for whatever reason, long-term strategic planning specifically focused on the business is often overlooked. Which doesn’t make any sense, taking a long-term view is just as important for the business owner as it is for a financial planner. Especially considering that the business owner’s single biggest asset often is their business.
“Begin with the End in Mind” – Stephen Covey
It’s Habit #2 of Covey’s legendary “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” He called it the “Habit of Personal Leadership” because it is the habit you create yourself. It requires vision and comes from your own initiatives and your own decisions. You take ownership of it. The message was really very simple with this habit, that we start everything with the end in mind. By getting clarity on the end result it is easier to get everyone moving in the same direction. And he suggested we should use this approach in every area of our lives, personal or business.
Now back to the reality with most businesses that don’t look ahead (excluding yours of course 😉 ) Though intentions are good, there is often very little time put into planning and really looking forward into the future. Way too many decisions are reactionary vs something that is part of a long-term plan or strategy. Many businesses struggle to look more than a few months out and a year out is really just a date on the calendar. It is hard to have an “End in Mind” when your focus is so close to the present.
What is the answer?
Think about it as a reverse engineering approach. But it’s really simple if you take the time to do it. In many ways, it is very similar to what your Financial Advisor does. You paint the picture of where you want to be at a future date and work backward from there defining the benchmarks and steps necessary to get there.
Some business advisors suggest detailed 7 or even 10 year plans complete with detailed goals and objectives. At Aspire, we have found that to be challenging for most companies and really not very effective. That isn’t to say one can’t have 10-year sales targets or projections. But trying to get specific on what a business is going to look and operate like 10 years from now seems a little ridiculous when you think about how fast technology and the world are changing.
Our number is 3, which brings us back to Dec. 31st, 2019, approximately 3 years from now. It is far enough in the future that you need to stretch yourself a little bit. It requires some proactive thinking, not just plugging holes in a bucket. Simply ask yourself, what do you want your business to look like 3 years from today? Write down whatever comes to mind and try to be as specific as you can.
Once you define that and get a clear picture of your 3-year future you can start working backward and developing your plan to make it a reality by repeatedly asking the following question.
- If that is the vision at 3 years, what needs to happen by the end of 2 years?
- If that is the vision at 2 years, what needs to happen by the end of 1 year?
- If that is what’s required in 1 year, what needs to happen in 90 days
- For that to happen in 90 days what needs to happen in 30 days? Etc
When completed, you should know exactly what you need to do next after you finish reading this! 🙂
If this sounds easy, but you know you will never do it on your own, consider getting some assistance. It really is a great way to get clarity on the direction of your business and your life. As always we value your thoughts in the space below.
Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach