One of my students in my group coaching program recently asked about how to do long-term business planning. In her experience, every time she tries to make a detailed plan for her business she is never able to follow through with it.

While I’m not a huge fan of very detailed long-term business planning, I am a fan of having some semblance of a plan. Here are some of the strategies I use for long-term business planning.

Don’t go beyond 12 months.

The thing that’s helped me most with long-term business planning is not thinking beyond 12 months. In fact, I work by yearly themes based on my business goals. Here some of my past goals according to their respective year:

  • 2014: Administrative organization
  • 2015: A rebrand
  • 2016: Beginning to focus on social media numbers for future partnerships
  • 2017: Building a scalable product (my group coaching program) and respective marketing systems
  • 2018: Continuing what’s working and influencer work

As you can see, I don’t try to do too much in one year. I mostly stick to one or two big goals and take it from there. Some of those goals also don’t see results until a couple of years down the road. For example, I started working on social media numbers two years ago and now is when I’m getting the spokesperson work.

Don’t get hung up on the details.

Some people need to feel like they have all of their ducks in a row before moving forward in their businesses. As such, they obsess over the details of long-term business planning. I can’t tell you how many times I run into business owners who are hung up by the minutiae of a plan.

So, what happens when we do this? If we’re overly attached to the details and we get derailed – because we will – we will be tempted to call it all a wash. This is so unproductive and totally unrealistic.

Instead, I suggest to business owners that they come up with a big goal and a few key points. From there, they need to allow for enough flexibility for creative solutions. Sometimes we don’t have all the information we need about how to move forward until later.

Make sure it’s realistic.

Sometimes our long-term plans are completely unrealistic. Most of the time, we expect to get way too much done and not give it enough time. This is usually because we overestimate ourselves. We also want to see results very quickly and hope we will be able to do so.

Unfortunately, it rarely ever happens as quickly as we want it to. In fact, it almost never happens as quickly as we want it to. That’s why it’s important to have some kind of mentor who can look over your plan and give it to you straight. This alone can help you make sure your long-term business planning is realistic. It will also help you mitigate disappointment.

Final Thoughts

Business planning is necessary, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it needs to be overly detailed. Instead, treat business planning like a map instead of something that’s set in stone.