Hundreds of years ago people had to fight for survival in a different way than we do today, but some of their insights can help us thrive in our modern circumstances. Back then, people had to physically defend themselves, so doing anything that gave them an advantage was important for protecting their families and interests.

One tactic was understanding how to expand your “horizon” so that you could see an enemy coming from a distance. If you’ve ever seen castles from the past, you’ll notice they are built on high ground or some sort of hill. This is because most successful kingdoms realized that with high ground you could actually push the horizon out further and increase your visibility — a huge advantage over low ground. So that’s where Kings and Queens built their castles.

Fast forward to the modern era: expanding your horizon is still a key distinction between businesses that are able to succeed and thrive versus businesses who are always caught off guard and struggling to survive. I’m not talking about moving your business to the top of a hill or buying a telescope, I’m talking about expanding your “planning horizon.”

Your planning horizon is how far out you look into the future when you are doing strategic planning. This one habit will literally determine whether you live day-to-day, week-to-week, or year-to-year. For example, if you haven’t been on a vacation in a while or holiday shopping seems to sneak up on you every year, chances are good that your short planning horizon is to blame.

Simply put, the further you consistently look into the future while planning, the higher your chances for success. Let’s use the example of planning a vacation: if you plan a vacation for next week, what will happen? Likely you’ll pay the highest prices for your flight, hotel, etc. because you won’t have the time to shop around or wait for discounts. Also, many of the activities that you wanted to enjoy on vacation may be sold out or unavailable for the same reason. Your stress level will likely be elevated and the vacation won’t be nearly as much fun as it could be.

On the other hand, if you were planning a big trip for twelve months from now, the experience would be completely different. You could wait for great deals on flights, hotels, etc. and you’d have no trouble booking the activities you wanted. You would experience less stress, have more options, and get much better results in every area of the trip.

The same is true in business and in life. I’m sure it’s not news to you that planning further in the future yields much better results, but far too many people have a very short planning horizon and are suffering needlessly because of it.

Ask yourself how far in advance you are actually planning. Do you plan daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly? I believe that if you aren’t at least considering things on a yearly basis (and ideally closer to 3-5 years), then your planning horizon is too short.

This doesn’t mean that you only make plans for the year and then never plan again, it simply means your plans for today, this week, and this quarter are based on accomplishing the things you want to achieve this year (or decade). If you never look this far into the future, your business is stuck reacting and in ‘survival’ mode rather than living proactively and flourishing.

Consistency and alignment of long-term and short-term planning are essential in accomplishing large projects and building your business. If you take the time to evaluate your planning horizon, adjust it accordingly and use it to guide your daily actions, the results will amaze you!

Garrett Gunderson is the founder and Chief Wealth Architect of, and a financial advocate for entrepreneurs.



Who Killed Wal-Mart’s Business Model?

For more than three decades, Wal-Mart ruled the US retailing industry. Its large stores and everyday low prices were too much for smaller neighborhood stores and supermarkets that ended belly-up shortly after Wal-Mart invaded their turf.

That’s how Wal-Mart ended with close to a half-trillion in sales, dwarfing the economies of smaller countries.

But in recent years, Wal-Mart’s business model seems to have headed for the graveyard,and the company has closed scores of stores. Apparently, what used to be an asset for Wal-Mart has turned into a liability.

Who killed Wal-Mart’s business model? There is a long list of suspects.

Top on the list is Amazon.  Its remote location warehouses, expedient delivery and razor-thin margins have given Amazon a price advantage over Wal-Mart. Not to mentionthat the proliferation of smartphone and tablets turned Wal-Mart into a storefront for Amazon.

Next on the list is a surge in minimum wage hikes across the country and the proliferation of labor unrest in Wal-Mart stores, which has undermined another driver behind Wal-Mart’s stellar performance: cheap labor.

Then comes Costco, which has lured away the more affluent shoppers,  leaving Wal-Mart with shoppers with the less affluent — shoppers with stretched budgets, relying on social security and other government benefits to pay for their purchases at the cash register, according to a recent study.

Of course, Wal-Mart has been fighting back, especially against Amazon by pouring enormous resources into online-retailing with a well-crafted strategy that includes  acquisition of on-line search technologies and building of warehouses.

In 2013, for instance, @WalmartLabs, Wal-Mart’s e-commerce technology arm, acquired four start-ups: Torbit, a cloud-based website accelerator service; Inkiru, a predictive intelligence platform; OneOps, a cloud based automation technology; and Tasty Labs.

More recently, Wal-Mart acquired Adchemy, a search engine marketer.

Still, it may be too little too late. Wal-Mart’s traditional model is already dead. Amazon, minimum wage hikes, and Costco killed it.

Source: Forbes