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The Best Business Strategy: Play the Long Game

There’s no such thing as an overnight success.

There; I said it.

Sure, you’ll hear about overnight successes all the time. The app which gained three million downloads overnight. Or the influencer who suddenly appeared on everyone’s Facebook feed thanks to a viral video. The musician who got signed after being seen on YouTube.

But there’s always something far bigger behind these overnight successes. People get lucky, of course, but luck doesn’t last.

Business strategy and long-term thinking lasts. This is why it’s all about the long game if you want to achieve financial security.

Those apps, businesses, and personalities have all invested in the long game, one way or another – trust me.

Why people think short-term

Finding motivation in business isn’t easy. It’s why so many people think short-term. It’s just easier.

Human beings love instant gratification. Anything we can get sooner is better, right?

Actually, not always, no. Think about the last thing which you decided to buy on impulse. Or the bet you immediately made when you saw the odds. Did it work out, or did you go on to regret the fact you didn’t wait?

A better product or set of odds is always further down the line. The key lies in waiting until exactly the right moment to grab that thing – and the same goes for business strategy.

This doesn’t mean you should fake it until you make it, either. Delayed gratification in business is all about strategically stacking the deck in your favour, and that takes time.

There are elements of running a business which often force short-term thinking. Cash flow, for instance, can create fear and urgency that you need to act NOW.

But what if you waited? What if, after a bit of research and thinking, you discovered that there was another way which would ease cashflow both now and in the future?

long term thinking in business

Short-term vs long-term thinking

There are some seriously bad consequences to short-term thinking. Conversely, there are some serious benefits to thinking long-term. So, let’s break them down.

When you think short-term:

  • EVERYTHING is urgent;
  • every item on your to-do list is suddenly a top priority;
  • you have no time to think, let alone get to the bottom of that to-do list; and
  • you start to produce short-term results which require you to regularly start over.

But if you start thinking long-term, you can expect the following:

  • the right stuff will become prioritised;
  • your to-do list will become manageable and goal-oriented;
  • you’ll benefit from ‘compounding’ your productivity, which ultimately results in less overall effort; and
  • you’ll stop “scurrying around like a mouse”.

That last point is important. Wouldn’t you rather glide through your business strategy like an eagle?

Financial freedom is something most of us want. But it can only come with long-term thinking, because that leads to strategic decisions that will earn you consistent income, enjoyment, and gratification.

Some thoughts to chew over

Short-term thinking can be seriously damaging for businesses. For instance, in the US, nearly three in 10 companies fall from the Fortune 500 list because of their short-term actions.

So, what’s the APPEAL of short-term scurrying? We’ve all done it at some stage in our lives. Is it to impress others? To stem the tide? To quickly fix a cash flow issue?

More importantly, what are the CONSEQUENCES of short-term scurrying? Put it this way: if you knew you’d be able to maintain a healthy cash flow and pay the bills without short-term thinking… why wouldn’t you?

long term thinking in business