3 ways to plan for the future and avoid getting caught in the weeds

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Most business owners wear many hats. One day, you become the salesman. The next day, you are the HR department. At the end of the day, you are the operations manager. Most entrepreneurs like variety. We like to be the problem solvers. We wear it as a badge of honor and tell everyone how busy we are all the time.

If this leads to a lack of strategic leadership, it will hold your business back. Working in the company requires a different mindset than working in the company. When we work in business, we take care of these day-to-day tasks and step in to resolve any issues that arise. We appreciate that others come to us for help and guidance in solving day-to-day issues.

Work on the business is different, however. It involves thinking the business at a higher level. Instead of working on individual issues, this means we think strategically about the long-term direction of the business. We plan for the future. We examine our value proposition. We assess competitors and emerging risks, and look for potential opportunities for growth and improvement.

This strategic thinking is often the first thing that gets ignored when we are too busy. Instead of seeing the company from a high level, we are caught in the metaphorical weeds. We are stuck on daily tasks. They consume our time and leave no time or energy to be able to develop strategic plans or think creatively about the future.

But there are ways to make sure you don’t get too stuck in the details. You can crave these three tactics to get away from the grip of the daily grind.

Related: Focusing on Your Perfect Business Plan Is Actually Holding You Back

1. Block time

You have to devote time to it. Don’t assume you can get it when everything else is done. There will always be additional tasks to complete. Instead, find ways to block out your schedule. Make sure others know how important it is not to be disturbed except in an emergency. Define what constitutes an emergency.

I learned early on to protect this time. Giving specific instructions to staff can help. I would describe what would and would not constitute an emergency. If anyone is hurt, knock on my door. If someone wants to request a day off, it’s best to send an email. If the building is on fire, come get me. If a client requests a custom design, get the details and schedule time to talk about it later.

By doing so, you will establish the mindset that strategic planning is important. It’s not something to do when everything else is done.

2. Create systems to perform daily tasks

When you are the primary problem solver and decision maker, you need to be available. By establishing systems to manage business operations, you create the structure for the business to function without your constant involvement.

You can provide guidelines on how to make decisions. Decision trees are a great way to describe the process you use to make decisions. These can be passed on to staff and you can train others in the art of choosing the right step.

Related: A Four-Step Approach That Will Make Your Business Profitable

You can also hire other people to perform tasks that are currently yours. These can be passed on to knowledgeable employees who follow the steps in your process to achieve a result similar to what you would get. Systems help create the right structure for the business. They provide the blueprint for running the business effectively and they give you the flexibility to walk away without quality suffering.

3. Get help

If you are unable to plan strategically on your own or do not have enough experience to do so effectively, there are resources available to help you.

You can create a board of directors or get involved in local business groups that help enlighten and orient each other. You can hire a consultant, you can include key people in the organization, or you can find a volunteer group like SCORE.

You don’t have to do it all yourself. If you’re good at running the business, but not so good at thinking outside the box to look to the future, find other people who can help you with this. It is important to be able to step away from the day-to-day tasks of the business and focus on the vision of the business. It can be the difference between a business plateauing and growing.

Learn to block time. Make this planning as important as everything you do for the business. Create the right systems and structure so that others can take over many of the tasks that bog you down. Get help from others if you need it. If you are able to do this, you will begin to see the business in a new light. It will give direction to you and also give direction to your staff.

Follow these steps to avoid getting caught in the weeds and not seeing the future of the business. Without focused effort, you won’t be able to escape the daily grind, but with the right approach, you can develop the strategic plan to take your business to the next level.

Related: 3 Reasons Entrepreneurs Struggle Building Business Systems

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