What is the legacy of short-term thinking?

Short-term targets and short-term thinking are stifling the growth of too many businesses that should be doing much better than they are.

Last week, SmartCompany reported the results of MYOB’s most recent Business Monitor survey, revealing the top 5 pressure points for small and medium enterprises. The top two were “attracting new customers” and “pressure from competitive activity”. Not surprisingly, pressure on profitability and price also rate highly among businesses that have experienced a decline in revenue this year.

There’s no doubt that conditions are challenging, and probably will be for some time. According to Deloitte Access Economics, economic growth here in Australia is expected to remain below its long-term average until 2017.

But short-term thinking is not the answer. There are opportunities out there, as long as we are prepared to do the work and planning it takes to land them.

Remember The Young Ones on TV in the 1980s, with everyone’s favourite hippie Neil earnestly explaining that “We SOW the seed, nature GROWS the seed, then we EAT the seed”?

It’s funny because it’s so obvious, and as it turns out, much easier to say than to do.

Pressure to attract new customers, coupled with increased competition and fewer market opportunities create the perfect environment for a game of chase-your-tail.

It’s one thing to be powerfully motivated to move away from what we DON’T want. But until we have a clear idea of what we DO want, we may see a lot of activity, but also a great deal of fear and confusion that will hamper results.

This year, the stock value of Amazon.com ($248b) overtook the stock value of America’s largest bricks-and-mortar retailer, Walmart ($233b) for the first time. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, doesn’t take this for granted. “If we have a good quarter, it’s because of work we did 3, 4, 5 years ago. It’s not because we did a good job this quarter,” he says.

The work we do today on our business model, products, services and customers may not bear fruit immediately, but without it, there will be little to harvest in the long term.

The downtime over Christmas and New Year is the ideal opportunity to reflect on the rewards you’d like to reap next year, and what you can sow now to make it happen.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business that is won through competitive bids and tenders. Her clients have won and retained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with many of Australia’s largest corporate and government buyers.

Had a tough year? Missed out on business you really wanted? Let’s make sure 2016 is different. The Pole Position program will position you to win the opportunities on your radar for next year. Email info@robynhaydon.com or call 03 9557 4585 to find out more.