The Benefit of Short-Term Planning During Times of Uncertainty

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Short-term planning

Short-term planning helps you set achievable goals over small intervals and make success seem attainable, even in the most unprecedented times. Let’s find out more about this strategy and how you can use it to help you navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s not an easy time for businesses in the UK and across the globe. Although we have started to adapt and learn to live with the coronavirus, it’s tricky to look ahead with confidence. No-one can say for certain what the future will hold, so it’s important to plan the next few months with a number of scenarios in mind. 

You need to have seriously considered how your business will manage if we go back into a lockdown, high numbers of your staff are off sick or self-isolating and how you can operate remotely. By using short-term planning, you are in a better position to survive and even thrive if circumstances take a turn for the worst.

What is short-term planning?

What exactly do we mean by short-term planning? Put simply, it’s the process of setting smaller milestones that can be achieved in a closer time frame. Businesses use this strategy to help them move gradually towards long-term goals. By separating planning into phases you can track your immediate improvements and evaluate the progress towards future objectives. Short–term planning helps you focus on more time-sensitive matters too.

But how short are we talking? There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, as it depends on what you’re planning and your individual business. But, as a general rule of thumb, they are goals that can be achieved or progressed towards within two or three months. The most important thing is that they are realistic for your business.

How can I incorporate short-term planning into my business strategy?

Start by analysing the characteristics of your business and how you can improve them. This could be the condition of your equipment, the skills of employees or the quality of your products, for example. To address any issues, you could introduce short-term solutions like servicing equipment, running employee training courses and changing manufacturing processes to improve product quality. These might not be the final solutions, but they can help you make temporary improvements that can be dealt with more comprehensively in the future.

Short-term planning during the COVID-19 crisis

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned most businesses operations on their head. But while nationwide lockdown restrictions could still be reimposed, hopefully you now have a better idea of what to expect and how your business can operate virtually if its needs to.  Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t feel like you’ve got it together yet, though. 

For many businesses struggling to keep afloat, you may be more focused on simply getting by rather than thinking far into the future.  Trying to manage day-to-day tasks can be difficult enough in an environment that is constantly changing. The economy has been hit hard and many things will feel completely out of your control. Regardless, you need to try and stay focused on your business plan and how you can move it forward to come out in the best possible way. 

Once you set your goals, implement systems that will help you make continual progress toward them. Goals without supportive systems that drive progress are generally bound to remain just that – goals, not realities.
– Chuck Cohn, CEO and founder of Varsity Tutors.

You can use short-term planning to plan for the here and now. Learn from what’s happened over the last few months to make smart choices and continue to thrive in the difficult months to come. 

With everything changing so rapidly, it might seem counter productive to spend lots of time planning for the long term when we don’t know what it holds. But it’s unwise to simply ignore the future altogether

The benefits of short-term planning during times of uncertainty

  • Easy to accomplish
  • Helps you stay on track
  • Creates momentum
  • Boosts confidence and motivation levels
  • Quick results
  • Can instantly measure your performance and progress
  • Can help you see what’s working and what’s not more quickly

Immediate wins make your business feel more stable and like you have regained some control. If you narrow your focus and set goals that are achievable in the current economic client you should be able to provide a better service to your customers and operate more resiliently – as these franchises have done.

At the moment it can feel like every second counts and you need to act quickly. Short-term planning helps evaluate your business operations faster so you don’t waste time on processes or strategies that won’t have a positive outcome for the success of your business.

Top tips

  • Focus on what’s happening at the moment and develop a practical response. 
  • Don’t give yourself a hard time if you have to change your goals more frequently than you’d like to. Remember that the goals you had set a year, six months or even a couple of weeks ago may no longer be viable - and that’s fine. It’s your role as an entrepreneur and business owner to adapt to situations that arise.
  • Make sure that your entire team knows your business goals inside out. 

Use short-term planning to steer your business through the COVID-19 crisis

Hopefully you now have a better idea of what short-term planning is and why it is beneficial in uncertain times. We have lots more articles aimed at helping business owners during the pandemic. Search in our latest franchise articles for these, plus lots more about the franchising industry and top opportunities at the moment. 

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