Starting a business in any climate is difficult, regardless of what field it’s in. There are a few exceptions of course, starting in real estate company in the couple of years before the massive recession at the end of 2007 would have been quite profitable straight away as many homes were being built and sold. Starting a pawn shop or loan agency straight after the recession hit would have been a good way to earn money too, but these business ideas are few and far between.

There is however a decision you can make that will give you the best chance for ensuring your survival. The decision in question is to think long term, think ahead of the game, not 2-3 years down the line but maybe 10-15 years. Why? Simply because everything is becoming outdated so quickly, you need to be able to adapt and the best chance you have of being able to adapt is having some idea of what is to come. Technology is moving so fast these days and a business plan that is great today may turn out to be useless and naive in 6 months. There will always be money to be made as long as you keep up with current and emerging trends. Focusing on long term thinking doesn’t mean you forget the short term thinking altogether, you do need to give some importance to the time between now and the future to ensure you stay afloat long enough to get there.

A perfect example of how this can be achieved is as follows. Let’s say you have a great product or a great line of products you wish to sell but no one knows who you are and you don’t even have a brand yet. Is bringing the products to market really the best idea? A long term approach to this would be to keep your cards close to your chest and build an audience. Social Media is by far one of the best ways of doing this, create a culture where you are interacting with your fans with whatever means you can. Show them the person behind the company, start building your brand and make a connection. Then launch your products and you will have people to market to (for free) who are in line with what you’re selling and are your perfect customer.

The example above is best case scenario, is it that easy? Absolutely not! Nothing in business is, but it is the long term way of ensuring when you go to launch, you have your target audience in front of you and you are marketing to people who already know and love your brand. It is worth noting, starting a social business account and creating content that gets consumers engaging with you is very, VERY difficult. Your first 1000 likes, followers, comments will be hard to come by. Once you get past that early stage, that is when you can really start to see the fruits of your labour, content is king in these situations but it will start to connect with a lot more people once you get your following up.

Short term sacrifices for the long term gain work well with whatever you do in life, whether it is to have a great, healthy body or investing your salary for a secondary income later on down the line. The same rules apply for your business and in my opinion, short term thinking for your business is extremely dangerous. A perfect example of a successful leader who swears by long term thinking is Jeff Bezos, he will not determine the success of any new initiative he has launched until it has reached the 7 year mark. Competitors of Amazon, focus more on their quarterly earnings, that is why they are no match for Amazon and I think we can all agree that Amazon is an extremely successful company. Mark Zuckerberg has mentioned how Silicon Valley is ‘a little short-term focused’ and how that bothers him. You want to be in business for the long term, the only way to do that is to think from the very beginning about your long term goals and how you want to adapt to emerging markets and trends.

Science behind it
Let’s take a look at the famous Marshmallow Test and how it fits in with all of this. The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment was a study on delayed gratification, it was done towards the back end of the 1960’s into the early 1970’s. It was a simple test, a child was offered a small reward immediately or the chance to have a bigger reward if they were able to wait. The wait time was 15 minutes and the tester would actually leave the child in the room and came back afterwards. The most amazing part? The follow-up studies revealed that the children who were able to wait longer for the bigger rewards had a better life growing up into adulthood. This was measured by SAT scores, BMI (body mass index) and educational attainment (source below).

The bottom line
Whatever you are doing in life, in terms of eating your meals, planning your meeting or even going on a date, the more conscious you are about the long term, the better the outcome will be. If you have an idea for a great product, think of a spin off from it or 5-6 spin off’s from it. Think of the long term business plan, would you like big stores to stock your product? Do you want an online shop or would you rather just have an Amazon or Ebay account. If you want to start a restaurant, why not look at making your one successful and launching a few others, or better yet, franchise! Whatever you do, work hard but work smart, look to be in for the long haul by planning for it from day one.

 

Make it a habit, think of your long term goals daily, even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes, write them down, do your research and see how you can capitalise on emerging trends. GSY

 

 

 

Sources

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/willpower-gratification.pdf