How To Create a Long-Term Strategy in 8 Steps

Long-term planning is sometimes seen as a waste of time or ineffective. Leading businesses and industries make use of five- to 10-year strategic plans as a key resource for sustaining a company’s vision, market-share growth, brand equity, employee and product/service effectiveness, profitability, and stakeholder satisfaction. They understand that the true value of long-term planning lies within the ability to remain relevant and strategic. They understand that change is inevitable and manageable.

A key factor in long-term strategy success is the ability to maximize and optimize an organization’s workforce and their cognitive abilities, such as the courage and confidence to commit to the strategy; the humility to be credible, open to learning and supportive; the discipline to execute the plan, be reliable and follow through; and the ability to communicate clearly, accurately and in a timely manner. The long-term process is doable through phases of short initiatives that support efficiency and effectiveness throughout the plan’s life cycle.

Planning five or 10 years out allows boards and leadership teams the opportunity to determine a vision for the future, outline measurable goals, optimize collaborative and relational possibilities, and align leadership, operational teams, employee skills and experiences. Strategic planning defines a road map for organizational growth and provides guidance for day-to-day decision making. It allows leadership teams to evaluate progress and creates an opportunity to learn and improve business processes and systems.

In my experience, companies that have a strong organizational culture and optimize key resources throughout the phases of a long-term strategy are able to better articulate their business objectives to a targeted audience, increase sales and experience success. These leaders have vision and successfully execute and update their plans. They help their people to learn and grow while maintaining the companys culture and market competitiveness. In turn, these companies become leaders in their industries and the marketplace, creating value, growth and opportunity for themselves and their employees, stakeholders and partners, as well as the communities they serve. In other words, they optimize their people to maximize success!

A long-term strategy is a comprehensive plan for a business that defines goals for the future. During this process, you’re setting and completing goals to achieve an overarching goal for the company. To create a long-term strategy, you may set multiple smaller goals that help you meet your ultimate objective.

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Why is a long-term strategy important?

Having a long-term strategy helps improve businesses in several aspects:

Business growth

Long-term strategies are typically larger goals that take a longer time to complete. When creating these plans, the purpose is to set goals that improve your company. As you complete the plan, you can see growth within your business, such as increased sales or more employees. These results depend on what your goals are, but you usually set long-term goals so your business can improve and expand.

Risk management

Long-term strategies can also be important for risk management. Since long-term strategies occur over an extended period, you have the time and ability to make plans that help reduce risks. You can do this by revising your long-term strategy if you think your team can improve it. Because of the time frame, you can also track your results more actively, which can help mitigate risks as they occur. You can make riskier or more adventurous decisions within long-term strategies because you can apply fixes or strategy changes.

Budgeting

Budgeting is important for any company and having long-term strategies can help you create a financially stable budget. This is because you can divide the cost of the budget over the course of your strategy. Having a stable budget might help you afford more projects, such as developing a new product. Then you can afford new initiatives while maintaining your finances.

Testing

Test marketing is when you test the popularity of a new product by exposing it to consumers for a small amount of time. Long-term strategies allow you to implement test marketing because you can make manageable changes to your company with little risk. This means that you can create a new product to see how customers react to it more slowly to help reduce risk. Long-term strategies are important if you want to test out new products reasonably.

What is a long-term strategy?

A long-term strategy is a comprehensive plan for a business that defines goals for the future. During this process, youre setting and completing goals to achieve an overarching goal for the company. To create a long-term strategy, you may set multiple smaller goals that help you meet your ultimate objective. The purpose of a long-term strategy is to see gradual improvement within your company over a long time period. Long-term strategies typically take at least one year to achieve, though you can also set plans for several years ahead.

A long-term strategy could encompass one goal or multiple goals and can be as broad or specific as you want. For example, you could make a long-term strategy to increase overall customer service, which is a relatively broad goal. A more specific goal would be to increase five-star customer reviews by 25% over the course of a year and a half. Some more examples of long-term strategies may include:

How to create a long-term strategy

Here are eight steps to creating a long-term strategy for your business:

1. Identify goals

The first step of creating a long-term strategy is to identify your goals. These can be short-term and long-term goals because you can implement both into your strategy. Try to analyze your business and think of areas you could improve. You could also think of new initiatives for your business that you would like to try. Identify as many goals as you can or as many you would like to include in your strategy. Try to make your goals realistic and measurable. Realistic goals make your long-term strategy more manageable and measurable goals make your progress easier to track.

2. Create strategies

Strategies are how you plan to achieve your goals. You may have multiple strategies depending on how many goals you identified. To create your strategies, think of the steps you need to take to meet your goals. For example, if a goal of yours is to gain a larger social media following for your company, some potential actions to take are posting more often or hiring a social media manager. Once you have a list of strategies, you can develop them into an action plan.

3. Develop a timeline

After youve outlined your goals and strategies, you can develop a schedule or timeline. A timeline determines when you want to start different tasks and when you want to complete certain goals. Be realistic with your timeline so you have plenty of time to achieve your goals. While its important to meet your deadlines, the timeline can also be flexible. You can adapt or revise it to suit your businesss needs. Collaborate with your team to create a timeline that everyone thinks is doable and agreeable.

Having a timeline can help hold you and your team accountable when implementing your strategy. It may help you get the work done to complete a task on time.

4. Adjust sales and marketing plans

A long-term strategy should account for your sales and marketing plans, which means you should adjust them as necessary. This is because your companys priorities can change so your sales and marketing plan should reflect that. Work with these teams to see how they predict what changes you may need to make. Consider aspects like your target audience, competition and any other components of sales and marketing. Develop new plans or adjust your old plans to best fit the goals of your long-term strategy. If you want to sell products for a different target group, try to account for that change.

5. Communicate with your team

If you want to integrate your long-term strategy into your company, try to openly communicate with your team. Communication can help align your team so that everyone is aware of the strategy and the changes that may arise. This can also help them feel comfortable expressing themselves if they have a suggestion or question. To foster communication, you can start by having open meetings with them to ask for their thoughts and opinions. Try to have a goal for each meeting. You could also offer one-on-one meetings to have a more personal conversation with particular team members to receive their direct opinion.

6. Revise your plan

After youve created your long-term strategy, you can review and revise it. Try to look for any errors, inconsistencies or anything irrelevant to the strategy. To change it, look at each goal or step and ask yourself if its necessary and achievable. You could also ask other team members to look at it and offer feedback. Revise your long-term strategy as necessary. Your plan can always change, which means you can update it as each step progresses.

7. Implement your strategy

You can now implement your long-term strategy. If your strategy is comprehensive, easy to understand and realistic, then it may be easier to follow and accomplish. To ensure that youre following the strategy, hold recurring meetings to check on the teams progress. These checks can help hold you and your team accountable when implementing the strategy. You could also assign each team different tasks so everyone participates.

8. Assess the results

As youre completing the plan, remember to occasionally assess the results. Doing this can help you determine if your plan is working or if it needs some improvement. Its often valuable to track and assess your results to motivate your team, especially when youre seeing positive results. You can use that information to revise the plan and make it even better.

FAQ

What is short and long-term strategy?

In general, short-term goals can be finished within a six-month to three-year time frame while long-term goals may take anywhere from three to five years (or even longer). In many cases, a long-term goal requires and consists of many smaller, short-term goals.

Which level of strategy is long-term?

Corporate-level strategy

Such a strategy describes the company’s overall direction in terms of its various businesses and product lines. Corporate strategy defines the long-term objectives and generally affects all the business-units under its umbrella.

Why is long-term strategy important?

Long-term strategy allows you to budget over a longer period for new initiatives. Trying to fund a new product line or division with cash on hand may not be possible. Using a loan to create something new increases your costs by adding interest.

How do you plan a long-term strategy?

Strategic planning defines a road map for organizational growth and provides guidance for day-to-day decision making. It allows leadership teams to evaluate progress and creates an opportunity to learn and improve business processes and systems. Long-term planning requires a formal strategic process.

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