Businesses need a five-year plan… and a three-month plan

* This contribution is by Pete Shuttleworth, Executive Director of cool London film company Pretzel Films

Time is an increasingly important factor in every aspect of our lives these days. Time, or the lack of it, leads to the constant need to update our priorities. This in turn leads to the inevitable realisation that if you put buying your wife flowers that far down the priority list then you will never get to it.

In business, timing is crucial. For me this simple understanding came a little late. I started a business almost exactly seven years ago, in March 2005, six months before my first child was born and five months after I was married.

I remember being in the delivery suite and texting constantly on a mobile to assure new clients that I hadn’t forgotten them and that everything would be ok.

From the first moment, building a business felt like I had constant childcare to attend to. The gateway between my two new worlds was my front door. I left and the phone rang. I returned and the baby cried. If I tried to mix them up someone would shout and my attention would be drawn back to the current task in front of me.

Starting a business and being a new father both seemed like temporary experiments. Something I could try for a while and then put down, probably opting for a well deserved, long holiday somewhere hot and expensive with waiter service.

And yet, seven years in here I am, still working on both projects. It has been eventful. Our business now employs 25 people and I now have two children, a boy and a small girl who is in charge of everything.

I have learned in business that nothing is permanent or assured. If you ask me how the business is going I will tell you what I know.

I still have the same two plans I started with; to survive the next three months and to plan for the next five years. Forget either timeframe for a moment and you risk the whole operation falling apart.

And this rule applies ever more to myself, colleagues and staff we employ. Earn your salary every month or you won’t survive the next three months. Develop your skills for the future or you wont be here in five years. It’s not easy for any of us.

And the holiday? I still can’t quite seem to save up enough to go…

pete shuttleworth (1 Posts)