There are a lot of guides on the internet that can help you with all sorts of problems in your business. Dealing with employees. Finding that bit extra cash. What to do in other precarious situations. But what about what you need to do in the long term? What about strategies that look beyond the immediate and build you towards a position of strength? We’re going to look at those long term goals you should be thinking about all the time.
Updating your core
At the beginning of a business, most will take the step of creating a business plan. It can be a great guideline to stick to as you go through your first two or three years. But what about after that? I doubt there’s anyone who could say their business is in the exact same position now as it was two years ago. But many will still be following the same plan. That’s where you need to make your first change. Every couple years, take a look at your business plan and update it. See which goals you’ve met, which you’re close to and which are becoming unattainable. Take into account new strands of income and new processes. Operating from an old playbook can give you answers that don’t help your current situation at all.
One of the biggest causes of poor business is simply the fact that many lose track of how exactly their finances are going. You should paying close attention to all the money coming in and your overheads. Even simple tools like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel can help you provide accurate charts for your finances. Make sure you have enough for the key costs you need like office rent and renewal of your web hosting package. As time goes on, you might also find that deals that were once great are no long as favorable. Don’t sit on services because it’s convenient, be willing to update to cheaper solutions.
We talked about the costs of running the website, but what about the site itself? How does it fit into your long term plans? Are you using it to its most effective potential? The chances are that there are more you could be doing with it. For example, your website design could be better leading your visitors and converting them into customers. Or perhaps you could be making use SEO solutions and backlinks to ensure it appears higher on search engines and brings more traffic? Make sure your website is always up-to-date with how the competition use theirs, as well as your branding and offered services. It’s shallow, but there are few people who aren’t put off by a website that simply looks old.
If you really want to have the kind of team that you can entrust the day-to-day of the business to, you need to invest in them. This starts with who you pick out and goes on to how you develop them. Giving employees chances for self-development is vital to success. Not only does it help you build a team that fits exactly what your needs are. It also builds a sense of camaraderie in your employees. They’re likely to think much better of the employer who helps them build their expertise than those who simply use them as labor. Even if you can’t afford training programs for them, you can offer cross-training. This way, they’re also a lot more versatile.
Your business plan should help you navigate through most of the tough choices you’re going to have to make for the next couple of years. But what about the projects you have to within the office? Are you planning adequately for them? How much assistance and guidance do you give the team? Letting them get on with it might work just fine, but putting an organized plan in place could make them all the more efficient. There are plenty of apps that can help you manage projects with the involvement of a whole team. It can help you set out timelines and deadlines so everyone knows what progress has to be made. It can also help individual members of the project understand the role they play in the whole.
Define good goals
You’re going to be dealing with a lot of goals the bigger your business gets. You need to measure how well things are going, after all, so no nasty surprises bite you in the rear later. But do you really know how to set those all important goals? Are you picking arbitrary markers that you think people should be hitting? Or smart objectives that they actually can hit reasonably? SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Take your time to figure out what the smart expectations for your team are. Pressuring them with unrealistic goals might help them get a project done quicker. However, it won’t work out well for the corporate culture in the long term.
One long term goal that you have to do personally is toughening up. The world of business is far from an easy one. It can ruthless and downright cruel at times. The longer you go on, the harder it might get and the more pressure you might suffer under. If you really want to succeed, then you’re going to need to develop some serious resilience. Part of that is learning to move on from past hurts. If business went sour or an opportunity was missed, you shouldn’t let it get in the way of future opportunities. In business, we care a lot about whether our projects flourish or not, but you should aim to separate emotion from business as much as possible.
Resilience isn’t the only trait you should be trying to personally build. The one thing that separates an entrepreneur from a businessman is adaptability. An entrepreneur has the ability to go with the flow and rise with different tides instead of stick to one and sinking with it. Obviously, we want the things we’ve been building for a long time to succeed. But if plans are going a different way, we should be able to move with them. Master adaptability by keeping your options diverse and embracing ambiguity. Much like becoming resilient, you need to become emotionally intelligent. This means putting mastering your emotions to a degree to find positive sides to every coin and focusing your energies there.
More customers for longer
Of course, if you want any business to succeed, you should be thinking about the customers at the bottom line. Obtaining more customers is obviously important and for that you need to be utilizing the marketing techniques above. Both inbound and outbound. But so many people focus on finding new customers that they entirely abandon other streams of revenue. That is your existing customers. Keep hold of existing customers by keeping in touch with them. Offer them the chance to be heard, even provide a testimonial. Give exclusive deals and a level of service that makes them want to actually stick and identify with your brand. Focus not just on how to get customers, but how to keep them too.
Long term success is about how you build with the time you have now. It’s about knowing all the costs of keeping your business at full strength. At using the assets of time, people and even your customers well. It’s about knowing that the past should be built on, not just learn from.