What should be included in long-term business planning?

With the endless number of tasks that business leaders need to perform each day, it can be hard to look past the end of the business day. However, no matter how busy you are, tomorrow is always another day and weeks can quickly turn into months and years. Without clear goals, objectives and tasks to pursue long term, it can be easy for business leaders to go down the wrong path.

As industries develop constantly, failure to keep up with trends or plan for the future can lead to your business being left behind the pack. This is all part of vision setting, taking care of all the ground work required to define your version of success.

So, when it comes to performance improvement and planning for the future, where should you start?

Define what ‘long-term’ actually means

Having clear and tangible goals is critical for any business.  Looking at the long-term prospects of a business is a bit like asking how long a piece of string is. The answer is unique to every single New Zealand business which means that business leaders themselves need to define how long into the future they want to plan. For example, a business that interacts with the public sector might select a four year term based on election times or a clothing enterprise might consider seasonality and how trends in their industry tend to progress.

Once you have a clear timeline of when you want to plan for, then it’s possible to start tangible processes on how you’re going to get there.

Understand market pressures

While it’s ideal to look internally, long-term planning will also rely on market conditions. Based on the MYOB Business Monitor, released on March 27, 36 per cent of New Zealand businesses had experienced revenue growth in the last 12 months, while 38 per cent are expecting it to rise in the coming year. Generally businesses are doing very well and the economy at present is strong with an expectation that performance will continue to do well over the next 12 months.

When market conditions are positive and the business environment is growing, these are the ideal times to start long-term planning. This is because the tide of sales, jobs and wages can turn back so quickly and those with no planning could fall behind the competition.

Hire for growth in the future

Unless someone is a short-term contractor, most businesses aim to hire with the future in mind. There is simply no point investing in someone who isn’t invested themselves in the long term success of the business.

This often comes down to the recruitment and remuneration process. Are jobs being described correctly? Is there room in the remuneration structure for someone to progress? Are there productive rewards to encourage people to push for business goals? These are the types of questions that you and your leadership team will have to ask themselves – also taking into consideration whether someone is committed to do a good job.

You can run the risk of hiring someone who doesn’t quite fit with the wider team and culture such as they can’t work collaboratively, lack team spirit or don’t get along with others. Building a cohesive team underpins company culture and has a direct impact on the success of the organisation. It is generally accepted high-performing teams who have a sense of camaraderie are generally more productive, creative and innovative, gaining better results for the company..

Keen to set the tone for the future?

The business world is always changing, but it takes a responsive and forward-thinking leader to guide their team into the future with confidence.

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