Plan to succeed: how to create an awesome long-term business strategy

After the year we have all had, it can be extremely cathartic to look towards the future. While the coronavirus pandemic has shown us the futility of overly rigid short-term planning, we can still plan for the longer-term future of a business to agree a defined goal, purpose and general direction that the business needs to be moving in. not only does this motivate us when we start to flag, but it also helps to unify the team so they can work towards a shared goal and can inform tough business decisions that may need to be made while the world continues to recover from recent events.

Such clarity at a confusing time can offer excellent competitive advantage too. When the time is right for you to move to the next level, you’ll be ready. Here are some areas to consider when planning your long-term business strategy.

Vision and values

The key here is to create a business vision that is clear, positive and inspirational – n meat feat, you might suggest. The most effective business visions and values are clearly written in 100 words or less, using strong, yet comprehensible vocabulary that is not obscured by jargon, acronyms or waffle. It should answer the questions: what do you want your company to be and how do you want your customers to perceive you? Don’t forget to think about your personal vision and values too, as these can affect the way that you run your business and prioritise certain aspects of it. For inspiration, take a look at what other organisations that are similar to yours are saying about their vision and values online.

SWOT analysis

This tried-and-tested business analysis tool remains very effective for both short-term project management and longer-term business strategy work. It helps you make the most of your business’s Strengths and Opportunities, while becoming more attuned to its Weaknesses and better acquainted with its Threats. Take plenty of time out to complete your SWOT analysis and involve as many people as you can to give you the fullest picture possible. Be open and honest and try to get a balanced view with roughly equal entries in each of the four sections of the analysis model. You can then move forward with your long-term strategy with a greater understanding of what is likely to happen within your business in the future.

Longer-term action plan

After the analysis comes the time for action planning – the stage when you commit to what you have said is important in your vision, values and SWOT planning work As already stated, it can be counter-productive to stick too rigidly to shirt-term plans in the midst of as global pandemic, but there is still plenty you can do to create a longer-term action plan. For example, think about potential three-, five- or even ten-year income projections. Consider possible expansion plans, hiring ambitions and scope for new or adapted products and services. Now is also a good time to rework any long-term marketing or communications plans, and to make sure your crisis management, risk assessment and health and safety processes are up to date.

Review, rework regulate

As with any strategy to plan, it is essential to keep it under constant review, The good think about longer-term planning is that you have longer to adapt, change and rework any or all elements of the agreed plan. Check in at various stages to make sure you are on track, and that the proposed pathway is still relevant to the worlds in which you are operating. Again, make time in your diary for this process to make sure it is not forgotten. Hold yourself accountable for any issues along the way and take positive steps to change things if they are not working, before it becomes too late to adapt the plan. Keep informed about news and updates affecting your industry and co-operate with your team to ensure that your plan stays the very best it can be for both their and the business’s long-term needs and strategic aspirations.

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