How Far Ahead Are You Planning for Your Business?

A business plan is essential for any business. Having a business plan defines your company’s main objectives and gives you a direction to aim. Ironically, many businesses forget to write an actual plan until well after launch. Even more businesses only review their goals a handful of times and then forget about them. How far ahead should you be planning business goals?

How Long Is Too Long for Business Goals?

Some companies have stretch goals that aim 10 years into the future or more. This can be helpful, but only for very general objectives. For example, you may know that you want to open another business down the road or buy your own office building.

Going more specific than that with long-term goals can be more of a hindrance than a help. The reason is that important business trends change constantly. New technology can make old goals practically irrelevant. Market shifts may require your business to adapt to a different economic climate. New competitors can make certain goals less important and require you to innovate quickly.

Put simply, set long-term goals, but be prepared for them to change. They can keep you oriented in a general direction, but you shouldn’t base your company’s identity on them.

What Is the Right Planning Length?

Every business has different circumstances, so you need to discover what range of planning works best for your business. You can tell by how effective your goals are at keeping you motivated and helping you increase your productivity.

For many businesses, planning for at least six months is wise. Others have a one-year plan, two-year plan or five-year plan. Short-term goals are useful for reaching long-term objectives and give your entire team a sense of accomplishment.

Whatever you choose, take the time to review your goals every three to six months. By that time, you may find that things you thought were critical aren’t a real priority. The beauty of six-month plans is that they make your company extremely flexible. If something isn’t working, you can tweak it or switch gears completely.

Why Are Business Goals Vital?

There are several benefits when you have clear goals to aim toward:

Increased Revenue

One of the main reasons to set goals is because it helps your company make more money. Setting objectives and reaching them can help you improve your products, increase the number of customers you have or even open other business locations.

Smart Decisions

Many important business decisions are easier to make when you have a good idea of where your company is headed. For example, if a construction company knows it wants to focus on commercial excavation, buying an excavator is a logical next step.

Team Unity

Goals can unite your personnel. When every member of your team has a good idea of how their work is contributing to the success of your company, it gives the tasks you assign more meaning.

Real Progress

This benefit applies even if you haven’t reached your goal yet. Objectives are like a measuring tape. They show you how far you’ve moved compared to the past. That way, you can analyze your progress and see if there are ways to improve.

Clear Focus

Finally, goals give you focus as a business owner. For many entrepreneurs, having something to aim toward is important for staying motivated and happy.

How Can You Get Started?

Creating goals isn’t difficult. It just takes time. Follow these steps:

  1. Look at where your company is now.
  2. Check your business reports.
  3. Find one thing you want to improve on.
  4. Be specific.
  5. Decide one key objective to reach your goal in six months.
  6. Take your first steps right away.

Setting large goals is the same as smaller goals. The main thing that changes is the number of steps you need to achieve them.

Remember, goals aren’t set in stone. They’re a rough guide to help you gauge your business’s progress. They should work for you, not make you feel nervous.

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