Stop. Sit. Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing.
Now visualise what your business looks like in 3 ~5 years.
What will you be doing?
What will be your business legacy?
How will you measure the progress?
Will you still be the owner?
What is your strategic plan?
Are you growing the business for the experience, challenge and reward of growing and managing a larger business?
When I ask a lot of my clients to give me the 3 ~ 5-year outlook, they find this one of the most difficult things to do. Quite often, they have not thought about it. If they have thought about it, they have not thought through the critical milestones.
There is a myriad of mid-term planning documents available on the web. All of them have very fancy diagrams, arrows and aspirational ways of achieving the strategic plan.
Without clear goals and a plan, human nature usually dictates that you will eventually become fatigued with the day to day challenge of running a business. Some business partners I worked with recently had successfully run their business for nearly eight years. As the fatigue started to set in, they wondered what the point was or what was in store for them and the business.
A metaphorical meditation session ensued. The fact these business partners took the time to visualise and put in their own words what they were each passionate about and what their collective vision was for the business allowed them to be reenergized and have a clear and aligned purpose.
The disciplined approach of going through a planning process and recording significant milestone can be cathartic. It’s a deeply personal process, and no two ”meditation” sessions are the same. The best outcome is when a connection can be made between what is exciting and what can be achieved. This way, the journey ahead will remain a motivating experience.
Your thought process should refrain from being overly aspirational so that the visualised point in 3 ~ 5 years seems realistic. Another common mistake is to start on the details. Many owners who have a business that has reached a plateau are very much stuck “in the business”. This exercise is very much a chance to rise and be “on the business”. A strategic planning process tends to avoid the details. There will be plenty of time for details later.
The Canada Business Network describes the “Strategic Plan” as deciding the direction for your business. This includes setting high-level goals so that you understand the direction and the milestones on the way. Where is your business now? Where do you want to take it? What do you need to do to get it there?
In some cases, strategic planning is perceived as a soft or unnecessary option. Quite often, the plan is put together comprehensively but does not form part of the ongoing business review process. Once finalised, the strategic plan needs to become part of the ongoing business review process so that progress on the plan can be tracked.
While your eyes are still closed, reach out in front of you towards your strategic goals. Are you able to reach it?