The strong U.S. economy has brought prosperity to many in the business community. As a result, most companies and industries have enjoyed significant growth. But all good things, unfortunately, come to an end. The same holds true in business. Markets are cyclical. That’s why it’s important to adopt fundamental practices to adjust to market fluctuations. Be prepared for shifts in the marketplace by looking into the future. What will the next six months, 18 months, two years or even three years bring?
Although market conditions are strong, always remain realistic because circumstances might change in a year or two. It’s important to make decisions that aren’t too big or too small, so take a macro view of what your specific market will look like in 12, 24 or 36 months. This is also a reminder to think longterm about your business plan and how you are building for the ages.
Consistently Question Yourself
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you plan the next one, two, five or 10 years of your business:
• What will become a commodity in my business within the next three years?
• How many competitors will I have in three to 10 years?
• What other factors going on in the industry and world at large will affect my business, both near- and long-term?
• Am I working enough on my business vs. in my business?
• How will technology affect my business and industry within the next one, three and five years?
A Cautionary Tale
Here’s a story about the life we build for ourselves, the ultimate long-term plan.
An elderly carpenter was due to retire. He told his employer of his plans to retire and start a life of leisure with his family. He would miss the money, but the time was right to hang up his hammer. His boss was disappointed to see him go because the carpenter had been a loyal and diligent worker for many years.
The boss asked for one last favor, requesting the carpenter build one final house before retiring. The tradesman agreed, but it was soon clear his heart wasn’t in it. He took shortcuts, used inferior materials and put in a halfhearted 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 looking around, he 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 he’d been aware of the consequences, he would have demanded excellence from himself.
What Are You Building?
Businesspeople are not that different from 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, etc. We are all in the process of building our own business and lives. If you are not happy with what you see, perhaps it’s a direct consequence of what you’ve been building over the years.
Build wisely by always taking executive time each week, each quarter and each year to plan and look ahead because your business matters!