Although I teach business owners to set an end goal for their business and plot milestones back today, I always add the rule that you must stop and review your plan every year. Yes do the macro work and aim for the big picture. But keep your detailed planning for each year ahead. Attempting to plan action steps with any accuracy any further out than twelve months is not realistic, in my view. Things are changing too fast these days and we are not supplied with a crystal ball. Technology in particular is changing the business landscape faster than we can keep up with – the way we do things today will not be the way we will do things in a year or even in six months time.
Just look at good old telephone directories. When was the last time you used a physical copy of a directory to find something? If you are anything like me the answer to that question would be ‘years ago’. Why would you bother with a hefty directory when you can ‘Google’ what you are looking for and have the answer at your fingertips in seconds, without getting up from your computer. Printed directories have been money for jam for years and years, charging exorbitant amounts to advertisers to promote their business within the hallowed pages. But now we don’t need them anymore. Search engines such as Google have created a new paradigm for finding the person or business you are looking for. Phone directories must now re-invent … and it isn’t easy. They have been slow to realise their targets were based on a dying market and have a lot of work to do to ever find that lost market share again. It’s the same story for the traditional post office. Just take a look at the dramatic drop in mail volume for the United States in 2009.
This decline is continuing. Of course we all use email now for our personal and business communication. I have not sent an invoice in the mail for years, have you? To survive, postal companies all around the world have to find a new model. Any business plan they may have had prior to 2009 must be changed dramatically.
So look to the future and build a broad plan to get there. But be sure to review your plan every year and keep an eye closely on the trends. Always ask youself what the paradigm for your industry is and how could it be changing? Better yet, find a way to be the one to change the paradigm yourself!
From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.