Ants set a good example

Creating a short- and long-range plan for your business can help put you on the road to success

We've all heard the saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." It hearkens back to lectures from parents and teachers who tried to instill in us the importance of thinking ahead. It's a sentiment that virtually everyone can agree with, so why is it that so many of us don't follow it?

It's one thing to "fly by the seat of your pants" when it comes to your personal life, but it's quite another when it involves your business. After all, in addition to the well-being of you and your family, you have your employees and their families to think about as well. So, if you want to be successful, you need to put some effort into making short- and long-range business plans. Sound complicated? It's not really, but it does require some homework. The results, however, will be worth it.

Fortunately, for those of you who don't know where to start in creating a business plan, we've enlisted the help of J. Tol Broome, Jr., an expert in the financial lending industry, to outline how to go about formulating a short- and long-range plan for your business. In his article titled, "Plan for success" on page 46, Broome explains what's needed to create a month-to-month, short-range plan, as well one to get you through the long run. And they work in tandem. Having a long-range plan without a blueprint for how to achieve it is useless, just as having a plan for the short term is OK, but is much more effective when you also have an eye on the big picture.

All this reminds me of the old allegory about the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper jumped around all day, enjoying himself, while the ant toiled away, storing food, building his home, etc. The grasshopper belittled the ant's efforts, poking fun at him for working so hard when there were so many other things to do. Come winter time, however, the ant was comfortable in his home, well fed and happy. The grasshopper was left wondering what to do, and ultimately, comes knocking on the ant's door for shelter. The lesson, of course, is that a little work now can pay big dividends in the future. And while the process might be somewhat arduous, the payback in peace of mind makes it a more than worthwhile effort.

The message couldn't come at a better time. With the fourth quarter just around the corner, now is the time to get your house in order. Start looking at your taxes, and consider your budget for next year. There's no time like the present and it's best to get a head start before the end of the year is upon us. Of course, we realize that reading an article about how to draw up short- and long-range business plans if often not enough. As Broome notes in his article, be sure to visit with a professional financial advisor. He or she can help you to help yourself and your business be as successful as possible. Do it now. You'll be glad you did.