IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Think About Future Horizons to Avoid Plateaus

Are you thinking beyond your current horizon?

As you do strategic planning you need to keep three horizons in perspective.

The first horizon is one focused on your current business. This horizon is all about strategies and tactics needed to extend and defend the existing core business. The lens for this horizon is 0-12 months. Key questions for this horizon are around defining your core business. Do you know what your core business is? How can you optimize your existing products with your existing customers?

The second horizon focuses on the opportunities that will help you grow your business in the next 12-36 months. Questions here are forward looking to what’s new. What adjacent markets can we enter? What new products and services do we need to add? What are the patterns and trends we need to leverage to propel the business forward? Which of the possibilities that we see presented offer the greatest opportunities? Which of them are feasible for us to do? Which of them are desirable to existing customers or the new markets we are strategically pursuing? Which of them are realistically viable for our organization to digest?

The third horizon focuses on emerging business models and opportunities. The time horizon here is 36-72 months. Ask yourself what’s next, after what’s new in the second horizon. What are the products and markets that don’t exist today that we need to have a process to sense and move into seizing and building?

What is an example we see in the market today?

Apple’s current business focus is on mobile. They have just released the iPhone 8 and X. They are defending and trying to defend their market share against Samsung, Google, and others. The second horizon they are focused on is wearables. Some predict that in 7-10 years the smart phone will be perceived through the same lens as the flip phone. More and more of the technology is moving to watches, rings, and glasses.

The third horizon that Apple is focused on is Augmented Reality. They don’t know what that market looks like, who the customers are, or what the exact products will be, but they are making investments to define that market as it emerges.

For many of us, these horizons play out as we defend and extend our MSP businesses. What offerings do we need to extend into existing customers to gain more market and wallet share?

The second horizon is probably focused on cloud, security, or other areas either in our market or vertical that will help us rapidly grow.

The third horizon is around IoT, Blockchain, AR, or other emerging technologies. Here we don’t know necessarily how the technology applies to our business or our clients’ businesses, but we know these will be the future and key to our success.

At HTG, we want to help you reach your desired growth and legacy in 2018 and beyond. Contact us today to learn how to avoid plateaus as you optimize growth — we’re here to help. Visit or email


About the Author

Arlin Sorensen's picture

Arlin Sorensen serves as the CEO and Founder of the Heartland Companies which includes HTG Peer Groups. When he is not traveling to speak and consult, he is home on his farm in Iowa with his wife Nancy. He is a proud “Pop” to four precocious grandchildren who serve as daily reminders of why he is intentionally living to leave a strong legacy of faith and integrity. He loves making a difference in the lives and businesses of small business owners. You can reach him at or on Twitter @asorensen.

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