In order for a business of any size to succeed and flourish, it is important that goals are set and achieved through business planning. It is not sufficient, however, for one business plan to be drawn up for a distant date; a short-term, medium-term and long-term plan should be created that lay a cohesive path for the business to follow.
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It is suggested that you begin with outlining the long term plan for your business, as this will shape the medium and short term plans. The first parameter to be decided should be amount of time ahead to be planned. This will depend upon your business type and should not be too far into the future. For instance, a long-term goal which is ten years in the future would be too far ahead; too many outside influences could impact on the plan in that time. Many businesses decide to settle on five years for their longer term goals. The long-term plan itself could contain details of any major capital expenditure anticipated, revenue goals, website traffic, customer satisfaction and other realistic goals to be worked towards.
The medium-term plan will address steps that need to be taken to achieve the longer term goals. This could be, for example, to implement a staff training programme, to hire additional staff or to use advertising services to assess usefulness. A useful time period for a medium-term business plan would be around two years into a five year long-term plan, but this should be decided based upon the individual business requirements and the amount of time required to achieve the longer term goals.
The culmination of a short-term business plan might be set six months or a year into the future. The duration should be decided upon by the urgency of each of the goals and each goal can have individual deadline dates. Short-term goals should address skill shortages, production issues, employee recognition and awards and any immediate threats to the business.
The business plans should reflect your business at the current time and give a realistic vision of the future. Each plan should remain adaptable and it is useful to assess the progress made and write a new short and medium term plan when the old ones are met and the goals achieved. Potential investors will be looking for detailed and insightful short, medium and long term business planning, so if gaining outside investment is a part of your plan, ensure it is contained in your business plans, along with the anticipated returns.
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