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Essential Steps to Business Planning for an Uncertain Future

It’s very hard to predict future events, just like no one could have predicted the events of the year so far.

As a new financial year is about to begin it is wise to reflect on what we have been through but more important to consider what is ahead. Although the reality is we don’t know.

Possibly the only thing we do know for certain is that many aspects of our business and personal lives may have changed forever, and if we aren’t honest about that as a starting point, then any planning we do will be worthless.

One may say why plan when we do not even know what is ahead?

The reality is we will never know, but successful business planning is to focus our activity and avoid distractions. A narrowed focus on important few goals concentrates our efforts and we are able to allocate our resources and capabilities more effectively. More than ever, now is the need for this focus.

So, with that in mind how do we plan ahead during these uncertain times?

Where are you now?

Be honest and do a reality check, there is no point kidding yourself. What has changed in your business and what’s within your control?

What’s important for you right now?

A lot has changed, what does the business need to provide for you personally? There can be some tough questions here if your business has been impacted and

cash flow and profitability are reduced.

What are your goals – where do you want to be?

For many businesses this may be quite different as the near term might be about stabilization rather than growth. What are the top 3 or 4 things that you want to achieve in the next 12 to 24 months? Be realistic, look at where you are now and what you want to achieve.

How are you going to get there?

It is likely you have activities that are not viable right now and need to consider alternatives. In these circumstances it might be useful to re-frame the situation and ask if this could work, how would it work? What activities are required, what are the priorities, who is responsible and by when? Build an accountability framework and explain it to your team as you will need

their buy in to achieve your objectives.

Know your numbers.

You need to be close to your costs and use your data to help you make better decisions. If you need help, ask your accountant about the different reports they can provide.

Measure your progress.

What are your key activities and how do you measure them to know you are on track? These may not always be financial measures; look for the activities that link directly to your goals. Read more on selecting the right performance measures for your business.

Review and reset.

A business plan is a living document, and it is essential to assess your progress. If something is not working, change the process and not the goal – focus is critical as distraction is the main killer of successful implementation.

Where to now?

If you have a business plan, then get it out and review it using the steps above. If you do not have a plan, then you can download our One Page Plan Template.

The most important thing is just to start.  You can update and adjust your plan along the way. Follow your plan, focus your effort, review your numbers regularly and you will be amazed at the results you and your team can achieve.

Need help?

If you would like to learn more, book a business planning session with a run[Accounting] consultant or already have a plan that you would like us to review, feel free to give us a call, we would love to help.

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