At times, thinking too far ahead can feel like a waste of time. After all, we’ve seen that our lives have taken so many unexpected turns over the years (for better and for worse), so it can feel like sticking to a strict plan for the future seems impossible.
But, dear Maker, I’m here to say that long-term planning for your creative business isn’t actually about controlling your future, but rather being prepared for the days ahead. Much like planting and harvesting, the preparation you sow now provides for your future. The end result is never about controlling the outcome, but rather taking pride and satisfaction in every seed you plant, grow, and harvest. But like any good farmer knows, you have to plan your plantings so you can reap the best harvest.
KNOW WHERE YOU ARE SO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING
In Navigating Change, Gary Gore shares a valuable lesson with his readers:
“In navigating through the forest, it is fundamental to know our location before we set out in any direction. If we do not know our location, we should stay in the same general area until we know where we are. To venture out only leads to confusion, and it makes any action plan we may have developed worthless or needlessly risky, compounding the problem. Our location is who and where we are.”
The premise of your long-term plan is to flesh out the path that takes your dream from the starting point to the finish line. In your creative business, this is your tactical and operational plan, interlaced with interim goals to create a landing block.
When you start with a vision for your future, you can begin to nail down the tangible achievements your dreams are meant to be made of. First, spell out your goals and objectives within your big dream. Next, assess what roadblocks are already in place and which ones you project to come.
Most entrepreneurs find that education or training is often their number one roadblock, right before funding. What are your solutions or alternatives to these hurdles? There will always be one or the other, dear Maker. If you can’t overcome it, can you jump over it? By assessing your market, assets, opportunities, and competition you can devise a plan of action through or around these.
A PLAN WITHOUT ACTION ISN’T A PLAN
Once your plan is in place, it’s ready to be met with action. As you continue to flesh out your plan, an operation will develop. As you monitor your progress and extinguish weak links, your policies will develop. Unsinkable businesses implement defense strategies they have devised in the face of the sneaky but expected roadblocks and written them into company policies.
Devise and implement a long-term business plan that focuses on three things: Prioritization, delegation, and execution. Without first knowing the end to the plan, you can’t begin. What looks good on paper may be too unrealistic once real life takes hold. That is where the beauty of these last few steps really begins to shine. Life is lived by first and foremost prioritizing the tasks laid out in front of you. Take on what only you can do first. After that, assess where you need to bring on help. No journey was ever meant to be conquered alone. Even Olympic gold medalists attribute much of their success to their coaches.
In A Maker’s Guide, I gave an example of what my long-term planning looks like. I prefer to break my goals down into 4 segments:
- Short-term (3 weeks to 3 months)
- Medium-term (3 months to 1 year)
- Long-term (1-5years)
- Lifelong (No limitations).
The common thread throughout all of my planning is that it begins with a goal. The goal is then held together by my plan to overcome costs and roadblocks, and ends with a very specific completion date. These threads keep my feet moving towards the finish line no matter the terrain.
What you do every day makes all the difference for the big picture. Chipping away and being consistent with your mission ensures your long-term success. When dreamers begin to do, they become world-changers. The seeds you sow today will bear great fruit — and therefore purpose — in your future. You can do this!
Until next time.