I’m sick right now. I caught some sort of cough thing (not Covid) when I was in Virginia for the holidays, and it’s miserable.
I’m throwing everything I can at it – Mucinex, Sudafed, zinc, vitamin C, water, tea, rest.
And yet I’m still coughing hard. It is, as I said, miserable.
Of course, this also made me think about business and the trade off between short term and long term fixes.
As we move into the new year, I am thinking about the difference between short and long term solutions, and the difference in how we should approach them.
- Short term solutions require quick action. Imperfect action is better than perfect plans, because you can change direction quickly. Short term solutions are a speed boat.
- Long term solutions require careful consideration, research, and planning. They are a cruise ship – they can carry a lot of people a very long way, but they take forever to turn if you’re off course.
Short term solutions
Short term solutions are things like fixing a button’s CSS styles that are outdated, moving a navigation item to make employees’ jobs easier, or implementing an initial onboarding email that tells new customers what to do next and what to expect moving forward.
To go a step higher to some categories of quick fixes, these could be simple bugs in your software or process, quick optimizations to make your or your employees’ life easier, or quick things to improve a metric.
A lot of planning in business is wasted on short term solutions. The planner likes to plan because it’s easier than actually doing the work.
But doing the work, and being willing to change it if needed, will get you more results than planning to do the work that you hope will get you the results.
You’re going to need to redo some things anyways. You might as well start earlier so you learn quicker where you were wrong.
My rule of thumb is that if a change takes less than 15 minutes, just do it. Get it live or implemented and learn.
If it takes an hour or less (think new copy for your onboarding email), put it on your prioritized to do list.
Going back to my sickness, Mucinex and cough drops are short term fixes that help me cough less and help clear up things faster, while staying home and wearing a mask when I can’t when around others helps me not pass it to others.
Long term solutions
Long term solutions are things like pricing changes, a new core offering, or even a whole new product.
These can’t, and shouldn’t, be done quickly. They affect the core of your business and could even have the potential to put you out of business if done wrong.
If done right, they can dramatically improve your company’s fortune.
Long term projects and solutions to problems (like not enough revenue or profit) require careful consideration and planning. They take months of time to implement and measure success or failure. They take a lot of people, often a decent budget, and need to show a direct improvement to the business’s metrics, namely revenue.
These projects usually start when a major problem or opportunity is identified.
Then you move into the brainstorming process of thinking up ways you could solve the problem. This should involve talking to customers, some creative exploration via writing and drawing, some sketching, research into how others have done it and how they made it work, etc.
Only then, once you understand what you’re doing, do you move into planning and assigning people and budget and all the things needed to make it a success both to launch and market it.
Then you build, launch, measure, and iterate.
It’s a true process that takes careful consideration, planning, and execution. Because you’re expecting so much from it, you need to give yourself the best chance of succeeding.
Going back to my sickness, long term fixes are exercise, eating healthy, making sure I have plenty of vitamin C in my diet, and so on.
Make Sure You’re Planning Appropriately
Before you start anything, ask yourself if what you’re doing is a short term or long term solution.
Based off that, you’ll know the right way to approach it.
Even if your ultimate goal is large (“build a blog with 100,000 monthly readers!”), you’ll have both short term and long term projects and plans.
Short term would include:
- Buy a domain name
- Get hosting
- Buy a theme or launch with a default
- Start writing your first posts
- Publish them
Long term might include:
- How you plan to get readers
- How you plan to promote your posts (aka, let others know about them)
- What differentiates your content from others
Get started today, move fast to implement short term fixes and gain momentum, and use the steps above to execute on big long term initiatives that will substantially grow your business or change your life.