How Do You Do It All? There’s Only 1 Way: Long-Term and Short-Term Planning for Small Business

Image of a small business owner using a calculator to do their taxes.

As a small business owner, you have to manage your finances, your operations, your marketing, your customers, your employees, and more. You also have to deal with uncertainty, competition, and changing market conditions. How can you cope with all these demands and still achieve your business goals? There’s only one way.


Long-term and short-term planning

Long-term and short-term planning is how you cope with all the demands of small business ownership. Planning is not just a one-time activity, but a continuous process that helps you define your vision, set your objectives, and map out your actions. Planning also helps you monitor your performance, evaluate your results, and make adjustments as needed. Planning can help you stay focused, motivated, and confident in your business decisions.

But how do you plan effectively? What kind of plans do you need? How often should you review and update them? Our business coaches help business owners with planning regularly. In this blog post, we’ll answer these questions and show the value of creating both long-term and short-term plans for your small business. We’ll also show why it’s critical to conduct regular planning meetings with your team, and how to conduct them.


What are long-term and short-term plans?

Long-term and short-term plans are both important, but they require different approaches and strategies.

    • Long-term plans cover a period of several years. We do long-term plans on a single sheet of paper and they can include as much as 20-30 years in the future but always at least 3-5 years. Inspire Results’ Single Sheet Business Plan outlines your vision, mission, values, and long-term and even mid-term goals for your business. The SSBP also describes the strategies and resources you’ll use to achieve those goals. It considers market analysis, competitive advantage, and growth potential. Perhaps most importantly, it helps you align your business with your personal aspirations.
    • Short-term plans cover a period of one year. Inspire Results’ Quarterly Action Plan takes that short-term, 1-year plan and breaks it down into smaller and more specific objectives and tasks. The QAP also assigns responsibilities, deadlines, and budgets for each task. It helps you execute your strategies, measure your progress, and solve problems as they arise.


Why do you need both long-term and short-term planning?

Some small business owners may think that planning is too time-consuming, too complicated, or too rigid. You may prefer to improvise, adapt, and react to the changing circumstances. However, this approach is risky, inefficient, and stressful. Without a clear plan, you lose sight of your goals, waste your resources, miss your opportunities, and make poor decisions.

On the other hand, some small business owners think planning is enough to guarantee their success. They may spend time and energy creating detailed plans but fail to implement, monitor, or update them. Without a regular review, long-term and short-term plans both quickly become stale.

Therefore, the best approach is to meet regularly to review both long-term and short-term plans, to revise as needed, and to create accountability for them. Then, you can enjoy the following benefits:

    • Focus: You can keep your eyes on your ultimate goals, while also paying attention to your immediate actions.
    • Alignment: You can ensure that your short-term plans are consistent with your long-term plans, and that your actions are aligned with your vision.
    • Flexibility: You can adapt your plans to the changing environment, and adjust your strategies and tactics as needed.
    • Accountability: You can assign roles and responsibilities to your team members, and hold them accountable for their results.
    • Control: You can track your performance, evaluate your outcomes, and identify your strengths and weaknesses.
    • Improvement: You can learn from your experience, celebrate your successes, and address your challenges.


Group of Small Business Professionals Making Plan at Conference Room Table

How to conduct regular planning meetings?

Planning meetings aren’t just formal occasions to present your plans, but interactive sessions to discuss your plans, gather feedback, and make decisions. Planning meetings help you:

    • Communicate: You can communicate your vision, goals, and plans to your team, and make sure that they understand and support them.
    • Collaborate: You can collaborate with your team, and solicit their input, ideas, and suggestions.
    • Coordinate: You can coordinate your actions and resources with your team, and avoid duplication, confusion, or conflict.
    • Commit: You can get commitment for your plans and actions and motivate your team to do the same.

However, planning meetings can also be challenging and time-consuming, especially if they’re not well-organized and well-facilitated. To make your planning meetings more productive and efficient, follow these tips:

    • Plan: The Inspire Results business coaches have a set of regular meetings they recommend to their business owners and clients: the 10-minute Daily Huddle, the 30-minute Weekly QAP meeting, and the 1-hour leadership team meeting every other week.
    • Prepare: Each of the meetings above has a specific agenda and our business coaches recommend that their clients use the same agenda for every occurrence of each type of meeting. That way, the planning is practically no-brainer. Each agenda defines the purpose, the objectives, and each member’s role in the meeting.
    • Facilitate: During the meeting, you should facilitate the discussion, the participation, and the decision-making. You should start the meeting with a clear introduction and end it with a clear summary. You should guide the conversation, and encourage everyone to contribute, listen, and respect. You should also manage the time and the pace, starting and ending every meeting on time!
    • Confirm: Confirm the next steps and deadlines.


Long-term and short-term planning is VITAL

Planning is a vital activity for any small business owner who wants to achieve their goals and grow their business. By creating both long-term and short-term plans, and reviewing them regularly, you ensure that your business is on the right track, and that you’re prepared for any challenges or opportunities that come your way.

If you need help with creating or reviewing your plans, plan to join us at the 2024 3rd quarter Growth Plan Workshop. It’s a 6-hour group setting with other business owners who are also working on their small business strategic plans.

Our coaches will spend one-on-one time with you, ask you the right questions, and give you the advice you need to walk away with a completed Single Sheet Strategic Operating Plan and Quarterly Action Plan.


Register here for the Growth Plan Workshop and enter EARLYBIRD at checkout to save 40%.

Date: Thursday, June 20th
Time: 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis Airport 8910 Hatfield Dr. Indianapolis, IN 46241

Inspire Results Business Coaching

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