ARE YOU IN BUSINESS FOR THE LONG-TERM OR THE SHORT TERM?
As you look around you today, you will notice people rushing around seeking short-term satisfaction without thinking about the long-term consequences. This situation exists in both our personal and business lives. If you can recognise this characteristic within the people and businesses you are involved in, this focus on the short-term can be used to your long-term commercial advantage.
When reviewing people we interact with in business, the obvious signs of short-term thinking can be seen at networking meetings, within day to day sales meetings and general business behaviour.
At the networking meeting, those that are focused on the short-term, rush around trying to pass business cards and interact with as many people as possible. As your friends in marketing would say, this is "shotgun marketing" where numbers are everything and quality is less important. What many people forget is, whilst you may reach a lot of people which may buy, so will many others be turned off and refuse to buy.
On a day to day sales basis, there are the salespeople and customer service representatives who only want to hear about the next sale. Any issues relating to enquiries and the resolution of problems are deemed a waste of time and somebody else's responsibility.
People in management or in positions of power who focus on short-term issues will work principally to keep their bosses happy or to earn the next performance bonus. These people hide and manipulate problems to gain short-term benefits knowing they will be gone before any real problems surface. Alternatively they will deflect the damage of any problems by saying "... that was not what I was paid to do!"
In the business relationship setting, we see suppliers and customers which focus on the short-term through their lack of concern for their stakeholders' needs. Therefore you will see for example, lip-service paid to customer service, poor quality employees and a lack of due diligence procedures. You will also note when confronted by problems, they always blame other party, the economy or whatever other factor they can find. Rarely will these organisations admit the problems are because of their own inadequacies.
There is another sign which may indicate this short-term thinking factor is the dominating and driving force of your customers and suppliers operating philosophy. This is when you hear expressions such as (i) operating a lean and mean operation, (ii) sales and marketing orientated, (iii) using inter-active technology and retrenching experienced staff, (iv) outsourcing for efficiencies and cost reductions etc.
On the other hand, those people and businesses which are in for the long-term, generally have a more measured approach to business. You will see they focus on having a (i) positive reputation with their trading partners, (ii) good level of human and technology assessibility, (iii) process which indicates most interactions are completed quickly properly the first time, (iv) strong due diligence processes. In addition, these same people and businesses are continually trying to improve their operations and interactions with their stakeholders.
If you are interested in surviving for the long-term, continual improvement is always required. Any expenditure in these areas is not just another cost. Expenditure in these areas is always an investment which adds value for your stakeholders, whether it is in your personal or business life.