Business planning in uncertain times – why it’s so important

24th January 2019

By Mark Dickinson, Partner

As a business adviser I’m often asked if I can assist with clients’ business plans – sometimes because the client is having to write one for an investor or the bank, or because there are some strategic plans in the offing. However, the UK is in an unprecedented situation as we approach Brexit and the uncertainty will be having an impact on the way in which many business owners plan for 2019. So, I thought I’d share some tips.

1. Do your analysis

Analysis should be part of your business planning process. Whilst you need to assess your results for the previous 12 months, look at what is happening now as well as what you think might happen in the future. Despite the level of uncertainty that the UK may be facing, this will help you to assess key risks and issues. Look at who your current customers are and ensure that you aren’t overly reliant on just one. If this is the case, consider the possible impact should their business suddenly disappear. Do the same thing with key suppliers.

2. New market opportunities?

There may also be opportunities that you can take advantage of. Take a proper look at the competition to see what they’re doing and assess how you’re positioned against them. Then look at alternative markets where there are new and growing needs that you can take advantage of. We might be in a period of uncertainty but the opportunities are there for those businesses agile enough to act quickly.

3. Ask ‘what if’ questions

Make sure you ask yourself the key ‘what if’ questions and then mitigate against the potential impact that they may have should they occur. Above all, look after the basics and ensure that your profit levels are where they should be and that you’re being paid on time. Look after your cash and make sure you have what you think you need available. With this in mind, don’t be tempted to overtrade.

4. Share your business plan with your team

Whilst you may not want to share every single detail of your plan, it’s important that you talk to your team, especially your managers, to ensure that everyone is clear on the direction the business is taking. Involving and communicating plans with management will not only free up time you might not have had so you can think more strategically, but your team will feel more engaged and able to step up to the challenges of today’s world.

5. Nervous of making a decision?

At the moment, don’t assume that there will be no change to the way that you do business and that a plan isn’t necessary. Banks, finance houses and equity investors will certainly require forward plans, meaning that they should also be reviewed regularly and compared with the business’ actual performance.

There’s no such thing as the perfect business plan, especially at the moment given the state of flux, but by developing a series of scenarios and possible strategies, when we do have more clarity you’ll be in a position to move forward quickly.

If you’d like to know more about our business advisory services, click here, or get in contact with one of the team.

About the author

Mark is a general practice partner, having joined Wise & Co as a trainee in 1987. Over the years he has worked on a wide range of clients ranging from owner managed businesses, legal practices and those in the charity and not for profit sector. He maintains a very practical approach to problem solving, dovetailing technical advice with a business’ or organisations’ overall aspirations for the future.

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