We often hear in business, “Short-Term Versus Long-Term” and if you have spent anytime in the Corporate Workforce (which often run their companies with 12 month outlooks – shorter in many cases) there is always this tension of Manager’s making decisions just to benefit the short-term, but often rob the longer-term (even medium-term) of experience, opportunities and ultimate profitability.
One common example is what happened to me 3 x times before the age of 29. Retrenchment! Down sizing! Firing People! And in some cases evil corporations almost relishing at the opportunity to break-up families and do their best to destroy people’s lives. Putting aside my obvious disgust at what some companies have done here (as I have seen many families first hand disintegrate when this happens), in the short-term it can actually make the numbers look great.
That is, if say a company has X Clients based on Y Staff and cut staff overnight, the numbers for a short-while actually can look “Great”. Then eventually as I have seen, there is not enough people to keep all the clients happy, customer service takes a dive and if companies aren’t careful – it can start the spiral of decline.
What a positive article I am writing? Well – turning the Corporations on their heads, I have observed that Small Business Owners are generally the longer-term thinkers. They aren’t bound by shareholders or 12 month expectations and if you get people that plan to keep their businesses for life (as like I) they often make great decisions that may even suck in the first 12 months – but lead to awesome results say 18 months later.
My dedication to this article from today is actually one great man by the name of Ciaran Keating from East Software. I have been very lucky to work with this good-natured man who is a fine leader in our Networking Groups too. When I first started with Ciaran as a client he said something that you would just never hear from a Corporate “My goal is not short-term sales – I want to set up things for long-term success”. This was exactly how I used to think and it’s that thinking which builds quality, intelligent, integrity and a solid base of loving clients that are awesome and do the right thing.
Talking more about Ciaran in particular and using him as my “Poster Boy” for this article – I also learn from him as well in terms of thinking ahead when you make business decisions. YES – you need to address your short-term challenges such as Sales & Marketing, Paying your bills and training staff – BUT you need to be thinking ahead at all times as well.
All of the Awesome Entrepreneurs I work with totally get this concept about aligning Short-Term decisions with the Long-Term health of the business and I love it. Talking personally as well, there are many times where you make decisions that won’t even pay you off for 18 months – but it’s okay! Because you know that move will make your business rock solid and you are comfortable with delayed gratification.
This could be things such as Online Product Sites, Re-branding (although this usually pays back quickly), Training, Attending Conventions, Business Trips – even doing SEO / Online Marketing (which at times can take 12 months+ to get a positive return!). When businesses do this well, surprise, surprise – they build powerful businesses that stand the test of time which get stronger built on substance and results.
So my advice to you? As you make decisions for your business – make sure your Short-Term decisions are consistent with the Long-Term. YES, I get sometimes you got to make fast short-term decisions – but make sure you aren’t robbing from your future to pay for today (unless you have no choice!).
Have a great day / night everyone from Edward Zia – Marketing Mentor and Lover of Long-Term Thinking!