We are rapidly headed towards what is going to be a challenging period for business owners. At the end of September, the Furlough Scheme is coming to an end, and we would like to make sure you’re prepared for it.

We are hoping that you are reading this taking some time out for the summer break, being a role model healthy workaholic.

It’s a shame that so many people think business plans are just for start-ups, they get created then they gather dust in a folder. Never to see the light of day again! The truth is that business planning offers serious benefits for everybody in business. For many we believe this will be just the structure you need.

I’d just like to point out that none of these benefits require a big formal business plan document. A lean business plan is usually enough. It takes an hour or two to do the first plan, then just an hour or so to review and revise monthly.

If you have the right mindset and already have one, pull it out and review it alongside our recommendations listed below:

  1. See the whole business. Business planning done right connects the dots in your business so you get a better picture of the whole. Strategy is supposed to relate to tactics with strategic alignment. Does that show up in your plan? Do your sales connect to your sales and marketing expenses? Are your services right for your target market? Are you covering costs including long-term fixed costs and product/service development as well? Take a step back and look at the larger picture.
  2. Strategic focus. Start-ups and small business need to focus on their special identities, their target markets, and their products or services tailored to match.
  3. Set priorities. You can’t do everything. Business planning helps you keep track of the right things, and the most important things. Allocate your time, effort, and resources strategically.
  4. Manage change. With good planning process you regularly review assumptions, track progress, and catch new developments so you can adjust.
  5. Develop accountability. A good planning process sets expectations and tracks results. It’s a tool for regular review of what’s expected and what happened. Good work shows up. Disappointments show up too. A well-run monthly plan review with plan vs. actual included becomes an impromptu review of tasks and achievements.
  6. Manage cash. Good business planning connects the dots in cash flow. Sometimes just watching profits is enough. But when sales on account, purchasing assets, or repaying debts are involved, cash flow takes planning and management. Profitable businesses suffer when slow-paying clients or too much inventory constipate cash flow. A plan helps you see the problem and adjust to it.
  7. Strategic alignment. Does your day-to-day work fit with your main business tactics? Do those tactics match your strategy? If so, you have strategic alignment. If not, the business planning will bring up the hidden mismatches. For example, if you run a gourmet restaurant that has a drive-through window, you’re out of alignment.
  8. Milestones. Good business planning sets milestones you can work towards. These are key goals you want to achieve, like reaching a defined income level or hiring that first employee. We’re human. We work better when we have visible goals we can work towards.
  9. Metrics. Put your performance indicators and numbers to track into a business plan where you can see them monthly in the plan review meeting. Figure out the numbers that matter. Sales and expenses usually do, but there are also calls, trips, web traffic, conversion rates, returns, and so forth. Use your business planning to define and track the key metrics.
  10. Realistic regular reminders to keep on track. We all want to do everything for our customers, but sometimes we need to push back to maintain quality and strategic focus. It’s hard, during the heat of the everyday routine, to remember the priorities and focus. The business planning process becomes a regular reminder.

We mention managing change as one of our tips, as experts we know this is difficult, though the reality is the period ahead is going to test us.

Our businesses have changed vastly in the last 12 months, its now time to start thinking about whether we have the work to sustain our furloughed team members coming back. Its important that you take time out to reflect on this and be honest with yourself. We talk about buiness owners having to be brave and this one is going to test you. If you do not have sufficient sales to justify bringing back team members, its important you plan for this now.

We always recommend bringing in experts to support with specialist activity, so if you haven’t already, then consider engaging a HR Consultant. They will be able to guide and support you through the process if you are having to consider redundancies.

Why start planning change now?

You may be thinking why do I need to consider planning change now? The Furlough Scheme does not end till the end of September, that gives me plenty of time.

Well, the simple term is business continuity, this requires you to keep your business up and running during periods of significant change. You have worked hard to build your business and your clients are important, what would happen if you did not have team members to look after them? Yes, that is right they wouldn’t be clients for much longer and if this happened, your sales would take a dip too.

Your mission is to protect your business and keep growing for this reason, loosing clients is not an option, you must sustain current performance.

We recommend you start to think about this now, start planning change, don’t leave it to the last minute, you just cant afford to. It’s a no brainer right?

Next time we will share our tips for transitioning during this difficult time to make sure you don’t drop any of the many spinning plates.

Do you need further help to reduce the stresses in your business?

We can help with the everyday tasks within your business to help remove your personal business stresses.

Introduce working processes that make things simpler to manage, more efficient and therefore, less stressful is something we’ve helped many business owners with. Why not give us a call to discuss how we could help reduce your stresses and workloads further?

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