Name the year in which all these events happened: the launch of Virgin Atlantic; the premiere of Ghostbusters; the first sales of the Macintosh computer? This was the question I put to our team at a recent strategy session. I didn't ask just for fun (though it certainly got everyone thinking!): I also wanted to make a point.
Many of us will be fortunate enough to enjoy a long working life. The nature of our jobs, and our businesses, will change almost beyond recognition over the course of most careers. Virgin Atlantic, initially a one-plane airline, now has a huge fleet flying all round the world; the Macintosh was the precursor to global mega brand Apple; they re-made Ghostbusters last year (whether it was an improvement, I couldn't possibly say!). Yet many small business owners don't devote enough time to planning for the future, and how to respond to it, how, even, to shape it.
We all know the plight of the small business owner: overworked, fighting fires, dealing with problems... strategy and long-term planning sometimes takes a back seat. Yet the long-term perspective really, really matters. If you don't plan for your future, the future will happen... to you. And if you stand back and wait for it to happen to you, the results might not be pretty.
The average age of our people at Scholes CA is 34 years old, which means they will have, on average, another 33 years (at least) to work until state retirement age. I don't think they'd thought about it all that much, and it might have come as a bit of a shock, but my simple point was this: take the long view. Consider where you want to be in five years, ten years, fifteen years; identify the things we need to do to get there; make it happen. So many small businesses would benefit from taking the long view.
What was the year of those three events I mentioned at the start of this article? It was 1984, 33 years ago. The world was a different place back then. It'll surely be just as different in another 33.