The strong U.S. economy has brought prosperity to many people in the business community. As a result, a majority of businesses and industries have enjoyed significant growth and prosperity. All good things, unfortunately, come to an end. The same holds true in business: markets are cyclical. It’s important to adopt fundamental practices moving forward to adjust to markets fluctuations. Be prepared for shifts in the marketplace by looking into the future six months, 18 months, two years or even three years from now.

Although market conditions are great for most business people, always remain realistic because conditions might not be as strong a year or two from now. It’s important to make decisions that aren’t too big or too small: Take into consideration a macro view of what your specific market will look like in 12, 24 or 36 months. This is also a reminder to think long-term about your business plan and how you are building for the ages.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you plan out your next 1,3,5 and 10-year business plan:

  • What will become a commodity in my business within the next three years?
  • How many competitors will we have in 3-10years?
  • What other factors going on in the industry/world will effect my business in the near and long-term future?
  • Am I working enough “on” my business vs. “in” my business to make sure I am ahead of real time and growing strategically?
  • What will my business/industry look like due to technology within the next 1,3 and 5 years?

Here’s a story about the lives we build for ourselves, the ultimate long-term plan. It’s called, The Retiring Carpenter.

An elderly carpenter was due to retire. He told his employer of his plans to leave the business and start a life of leisure with his wife and extended family. He would miss the money but the time was right to hang up his hammer. His boss was disappointed as the carpenter had been a loyal and diligent worker for many years, so he was sad to see him go.

He asked for one last favor, requesting the carpenter could build one last house before retiring. The tradesman agreed, but it was soon clear that his heart wasn’t in it. He took shortcuts, used inferior materials and put in a half-hearted effort. In the end, the final product was well short of his usual standards; a disappointing way to end his career. When the job was finished, the employer came to inspect the work. After taking a look around, the employer handed the keys to the carpenter and said, “This is your house. I give this as a gift to you.” The carpenter was shocked and embarrassed. If only he had known he would have made sure everything was perfect. If he had known the consequences, he would have demanded excellence from himself.

Business people are not that different than the retiring carpenter: We go about our business working as we see fit: some with passion, some with caring, some with excellence, some with low standards, some with diligence and some without effort. We are all in the process of building our own lives. If you’re not happy with what you see, perhaps it’s a direct consequence of what you’ve been building over the years. Build wisely.

Make sure you are always taking executive time each week, each quarter & annually to business plan and have your pulse on today and tomorrows changes.

Think Big!