They say that “failing to plan is planning to fail”. As a business owner, you have to be aware of how important planning is to you and your business. It makes sure that you are setting yourself up for success and helps you control your business. This sums up the importance of long-term planning strategies. If you can develop an effective plan for your business, you are gearing yourself up to achieve outstanding results. And with this article, we hope that we will be able to help you do exactly that. Read on and see how long-term planning is done and how it can benefit your business.
What is Long-term planning?
A long-term plan is a business plan that spans out for a couple of years and more. It is a detailed guide about where you want your business to go in the future. This gives you specific ideas on how and where to direct your time, attention, and efforts. It allows you to prioritize certain aspects and tasks over others that you have to do. Long-term planning involves determining the progress you want your business to achieve and how you plan to achieve them. It gives you the satisfaction of knowing where you and your business are in the foreseeable periods in the future. This involves setting goals and doing all sorts of analysis both internally and externally. You do not only consider what is happening inside your business; you also have to monitor market and nation’s conditions to more effectively and realistically develop long-term planning strategies that will elevate your business to the next level.
The Importance of Long-term Planning Strategies
Long-term planning is vital in your business because of many reasons. Let’s start off with the fact that a long-term plan is a set-up for success. Think about playing a game of chess. While you already know the capabilities of your pieces - in this case, your business resources, you still need to think about how you can best move them so that you emerge triumphantly. Now, to do this, you have to come up with long-term planning strategies that will last you until you conquer your opponent. You can’t just move your pieces around, hoping to score a few of your opponent’s pieces. Because doing so, much like just going around without a proper long-term plan, would render you powerless towards the end since your pieces are not in competitive positions. Thus, if you can do the exact opposite of that and do some long-term planning, you are setting yourself up for a better chance at beating your opponents - or in your case, your competitors. This is what long-term planning does for your business. See, the importance of long-term planning strategies comes with the fact that it equips you with the knowledge of how to best utilize all your capabilities and improve on some of your weak points. It also allows you to get a head start on how you will respond to certain conditions and circumstances that the industry and the economy you are in will be bound to affect your business.
When doing long-term planning, the first thing you have to do is to set your goals. Without proper objectives to aim your efforts at, you might find trouble achieving anything at all. You have to think about what you really want to achieve. But remember that when you are setting your goals, it has to be S.M.A.R.T. That is, it has to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timebound. You have to be particular with your goals. While you can set a general goal for your business, you must narrow down the details of what you are aiming to achieve when you make a long-term plan. It does not necessarily have to be exact, but it pays for it to be precise enough to be measurable. See, it’s essential for your goals to have some sort of performance metrics to track your progress. It’s understandable for you to want to aim to jump over the moon. And while it’s not a bad thing to be optimistic about your success, you have to be realistic and make sure that your goals are anchored and backed up by data and information so that you know that it’s achievable. Finally, when doing long-term planning, you have to set a time frame. You have to dictate a certain amount of time dedicated to you reaching these specific goals.
2. Identify Your Resources
The next thing you have to do when coming up with your long-term planning strategies is to identify what you have and what you don’t have. You need to figure out and list down all the resources you can use in your long-term planning strategies. This can be in the form of physical and tangible assets you acquired or built throughout the years of your business or your life. But also take note of those intangible assets that are just as valuable. Keep in mind that being known and recognized by a certain brand name in this highly technical, visual, and interactive world does wonders for you and your business. This step is vital for your long-term plan because, without much consideration of these things, you might end up with long-term planning efforts that you can’t execute in the end.
3. Forecasting and Research
Once you have identified your goals and your resources, the next step for your long-term planning efforts is to dig up some data to back up the current information you have at hand. You must look at not just your strengths and weaknesses; you also need to look at the whole industry that you are a part of in general. You must be aware of your competitors; benchmarking is a vital part of any business’ success. Do the necessary research because you don’t want to be caught in surprise by any of your competitors. When coming up with your long-term planning strategies, you also have to observe the state of the industry and the economy. You have to look at possible threats coming your way so you can work out a way to minimize their effects on your business. And on the other hand, you also have to keep an eye out for any opportunities that may come your way to prepare your business to take advantage of them. In addition, you can forecast certain key performance indicators of your business using the current information.
4. Make a Clear and Concise Plan and Schedule
Now that you have all the information you need to make a specific and detailed plan, you can go to the actual long-term planning stage. In this part, you can write down expressly what each of your long-term planning strategies involves. It should include the specific goal for that part of your long-term plan, the different tasks and strategies involved, and the metrics you will use to measure your progress. You also need to put it in your calendar how each of these tasks and steps will fit your business’s overall schedule. Remember that your long-term planning must involve looking ahead and plotting tasks and deadlines for each of your goals. Also, keep in mind that this plan need not be perfect and permanent. It’s completely normal that at some point in your implementation, you would discover some things that you can do better or some things that wouldn’t deem effective at the time.
5. Implement and Monitor Consistently
After you have written down everything, you have to start implementing and executing all your long-term planning strategies. At this stage, you should see and appreciate more how detailed, specific, and organized your long-term plan is. But remember not just to implement them. You also have to monitor them. You have to keep track of the progress you are making in every step of your long-term plan. It doesn’t always have to be a full-blown analysis of what you’ve done. What’s essential is that you have some way to tell whether you are doing good based on what you set out to do or lagging a bit behind on your goal or schedule. You must see how far along you have moved on from your previous status so that you can adjust or modify any part of your long-term planning strategies. This way, you can not only be proud of the progress you have made, but you can also allow yourself some time, space, and opportunity to bring your goals to the next level or adjust your strategies to reach your current goal.
Monitoring Your Progress With Strikingly Built-in Analytics
While we emphasize the importance of long-term planning strategies - and how important it is to monitor and keep track of how you’re doing with it, we also want to give you a few tools on how you can go about doing this. Strikingly is a helpful website builder tool that you can use for building a business website of your own. Your website can help you execute and house the different aspects of your long-term planning efforts. In addition to this, Strikingly also allows you to keep track of how your website is doing.
Image taken from Strikingly Product
Strikingly allows you to know the percentages of your site visors and viewers. It gives you a number about how many unique visitors are in the last day, week, month, or so. It also summarizes the percentage of visitors coming from different countries and what kind of devices they are using to view your website. You are also able to keep track of where your traffic is coming from. All of this information can be used to better equip your long-term planning efforts to be more effective.
Image taken from Strikingly Product
Strikingly also gives you a chance to get to know the status of your online store. This allows you to know about which areas of your sales funnel are doing best. You can probably use this information to explore and develop a long-term plan about improving your sales funnel so that you can do better. This will also give you your online store’s total revenue and order count for the last week and when you began.
Long-term planning is not easy to do, but let it be known that there are tools, like Strikingly, that can make your life easier and yet still as efficient. Sign up with Strikingly now and reap the benefits!