Imagining the Future of Your Company

A writer friend once told me he hates outlining stories. He says it “kills the mystery.” While he has a lot of the story in his head, he also enjoys the same revelations and surprises his readers do. If he outlines the whole story, that’s all taken away and he doesn’t feel connected anymore

Surprisingly, many small business owners have the same thoughts about their endeavors. They don’t want to plan too much as they’re “free spirited” and like to “live on the edge.” Many feel like too much planning takes away from letting the business grow organically

While some of this may be true, not having a vision of your company’s future can spell disaster. You should take the time to at least weigh out possible scenarios. Here’s why, and how

Why It’s Important

There’s a lot of uncertainty when you open a business. You never know when your sales could take off and launch your business to the whole world. You also never know when all your customers will unexpectedly leave and completely tank your bottom line. You don’t know if your growth will be slow and steady or a rocket ship straight to the top

What you can plan for, though, are the daily little things. This goes beyond making and listing items, organizing your books, and other tasks like that. Without a solid plan for your business you’ll never be working towards something other than the next dollar

While that sometimes works out just fine, it’s better to plot out plans for your company. For example, if you want to corner a market on office supply sales, that’s not going to happen out of the blue. That takes careful, planned work to knock out all the other competitors so yours is up front and center. Coming up with solid PR, marketing, customer service, and other expansion plans is key

How to Start

Again the idea isn’t to routinely and specifically plan out every aspect of your business from day one to your last day as a business owner. Not only is that impossible the very nature of business means you’ll be changing those plans at some point; it’s just the way things go, no matter what industry you’re in

But just taking the time to sit down and figure out what you want out of your business can be a huge help. While cliché, you could ask yourself “where do I see this business in 5/10/20 years?” The point isn’t to try to predict the future; it’s to give you an idea what to work towards. Sometimes when you start a business it’s easier to get excited about the beginning and not worry about what’s to come. But both are equally important, and visualizing it is the first step

Also, try to imagine the issues your business might run into. Not only can this give you a better business plan in the long run, this can also help prevent the “first year curse” that kills so many small businesses. The more you understand your weaknesses, the better prepared you’ll be when one rolls around.

Where do YOU see your business in 5, 10 or 20 years?