CEOs spend a lot of time thinking about the future. The present can be ugly and fraught with nasty little problems that are intractable and complicated. The future is always a more attractive, happier place.

But spending too much time on the future can be a siren song that ignores the problems of the present. Business leaders need to focus on the short term first, or it could cost them the company’s future.

When I worked at a turnaround company, we often had to choose between paying utilities or paying employees. Yet the CEO there spent enormous amounts of the organization’s time, money, and energy on positioning the company for the future. But there would be no future if he didn’t focus on the turnaround in front of him at that moment.

This isn’t to say that you don’t need a long-term strategy to go along with your short-term plans. You need both, but the order is important. Focusing first on the short term sharpens your company’s operational control, paving the way to profits you can invest in the long term.

During the Great Recession of 2008, my company focused heavily on the short term. This uncovered many operational weaknesses that we didn’t know about earlier when the numbers were really great. By drilling down on our operational weaknesses, we not only improved profits in the short run, but we also positioned ourselves for even better profits when the recession ended.

Today’s Strategy Leads to Tomorrow’s Success

Set aside your grand five-year vision, and focus on your here-and-now approach. No business knows what’s going to happen in the long term, but these three steps can set you up with solid footing today:

1. No Days Off

Make sure you know what the numbers are at any moment. As CEO, I get a daily orders report, and I review it thoroughly to spot trends or weaknesses. If you focus on hitting your target for that day, you will hit your target for that week, that month, and that year.

2. Stay on Your Toes

When you spot a trend or weakness in your daily, weekly, or monthly numbers, take action and get answers fast. Don’t simply accept suppositions about the underlying cause. If you hear “my guess is” or “I think,” insist that your team drill down to the real reasons: “I know” and “here are the facts.”

3. Strength in Numbers

Do a deep dive with your senior leadership team each month to sort out what’s behind the numbers. Examine sales, costs, and margins — not only by customer, but also by product line and individual product. Do you need to make changes to stay in it for the long haul? The long haul might not be there if you don’t.

Spending too much time on long-term planning is a costly mistake. Don’t kill your company by ignoring what’s happening here and now. Once you’ve taken care of your goals for each day, you can widen your focus to sustainable, lasting success.