Setting up a business is a whirlwind journey. From drawing up your plans, to applying for funding, to opening your doors for the first time, the first few years of your business’ life are hectic and exciting. The first few years are the ones you are warned about, too; these are the years where you are expected to lose money and encounter many hurdles. Many businesses fail in this process, and it is indeed a great success to launch your own company successfully! After the first few years, you might feel as if you’ve won the war.
However, getting through those precarious first few years of setting up and growing your business is just the beginning. Any long-time company owner will tell you that continuing to maintain your company’s relevance and financial progress is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are four steps that can help you create a long term business plan.
1. Set out your goals
Starting a business is one thing; maintaining it is another. You want your business to grow, but have you thought about your actual goals for this growth? Before you go about making a long term business plan, you firstly need to set clear goals for yourself and your company.
Laying out your goals means being both ambitious and realistic. Finding the balance between reaching for the stars and understanding your company’s limitations can be a challenge. On the one hand, it is easy to get over-excited and set unachievable expectations. On the other, it is also easy to become afraid of failure and end up limiting yourself. Look carefully at your business’ potential and try to set goals which work for you.
2. Reach out for guidance
It’s easy to feel, when you run a business, that you’re on your own. After all, you’re the one who started this thing, and only you know how best to run it, right? Wrong. There are companies and experts dedicated to assisting your business in its journey to success. Consulting a strategy execution platform to help you to grow your business can alleviate concerns that you’re getting it wrong.
Everyone needs help, even those at the top of the ladder. Being the boss can feel like carrying the world on your shoulders; when things go wrong, they fall in your lap, and that’s a lot to take on. Needing help in how best to run your business long term is not a show of weakness, but actually a strength. The best leaders are willing to follow when the time is right.
3. Use your team
Sometimes, business leaders forget to consult their most vital asset: their team. If you run a face to face business, this is especially important. Your team, although perhaps less experienced or knowledgeable than you when it comes to running the show, are your ground soldiers. They are the individuals who interact with customers daily; they will likely have incredibly useful insights into how best to keep your customers satisfied. Asking your team for guidance is a great of understanding how best to progress long term.
In addition to helping you, by asking your team for their input, you are increasing workplace solidarity. By being a boss who genuinely listens to the feedback of your team, you are going to come across as an approachable, caring boss. This isn’t a bad thing. Although you want to remain in charge, valuing your employees is the best way of running a business.
4. Accepting failure
When things have been going well, hitting a difficult time in your business can feel like an enormous failure. However, just because you hit a bump in the road, doesn’t mean your business isn’t well run or bound for success. It is simply a fact of life. As a business owner, making plans is vital – but understanding that these plans will never quite go as planned is also essential.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, this advice has never been more important. Nobody saw this pandemic coming, and almost every business in the world has been affected. Your business hitting hard times isn’t always something you can control. What you can control, however, is how you react to failure. Understanding that failure is a part of running a business, and reacting calmly and rationally is something every business owner must learn. Taking things in your stride and not allowing emotional reactions to interrupt your plans is the best way to assure your business is ready for the long haul.