Whether you’ve been busier than ever this year or it’s given you valuable time to reflect on the future of your business, you need a solid plan to survive and a solid plan to thrive going forward.
Geoff Gwynn, one of our Business Growth Advisors, explains further:
I would say nine out of ten business owners we speak with have a plan. However, most of those plans are not documented and almost never shared with employees. The chances are that it hasn’t been subjected to challenge or scrutiny, and its often not joined up. From evidence and personal experience at Elephants Child, we know that
businesses with a robust and joined up plan grow faster than those that don’t.
A typical business has an owner who is talented and good at whatever they do. Over time the typical journey is to bring in staff to perform specific tasks, whether it’s book-keeping, IT or a technical expertise. As the business grows further the pattern continues and the founder remains at the centre of the company with all decisions going through them. It’s common for owners to keep a grip on central decision making – inadvertently becoming a bottleneck and causing the business to plateau.
Virtually all business owners have only ever run one business in an area that is their passion, but that’s not the same as being an expert at running a business. And that’s where the herd loves to help. Between us we have worked with hundreds of businesses helping them to plan for success, and even enjoying ourselves along the way. Our expertise is in business planning and strategy.
Planning doesn’t have to be an arduous process, and more often than not the business has the answers to what a plan should look like. They just need our help to ask the right questions and tease out the issues.
If you’ve had time to reflect on where your business is going but not yet had chance to make a plan, it’s time to ‘Confront the Brutal Facts’. Too often I see owners who are aware of the issues in their business, their wider industry and the outside world – but aren’t prepared for it or are ignoring it. With a plan you will be well placed to deal with whatever comes your way.
I also encourage businesses to trust and embrace change as they plan. Often, small incremental change leads to success. The 2012 Olympic GB cycling team is a great example of marginal gains – each little step building improvement into greater achievement. Small steps also help engage your workforce as it sees the benefits play out without having to go through the upheaval of a major change.
I’ve worked with a dental company recently, and as part of their 90 day plan we reviewed their processes and procedures giving them a much better handle on costs. As a result they’ve been doing the same amount of work but using three fewer people, which effectively means a 30 per cent improvement.
Another business we’ve been advising up in Scotland were really good at their sales and marketing but they didn’t have a good handle on their numbers. Through our questioning they were able to see what was having an impact on their profits and plan to do something about it. The right reporting systems allow you to see what your margins are and where you can make changes.
The majority of our clients have come out of lockdown in a strong position. Through our earlier work with them, they’d got themselves into a stable position with between three and six months working cash to weather a storm. We were thinking loss of a contract or a large default; we hadn’t quite imagined the scale of a global pandemic.
1. Confront the brutal facts
2. Create your plan
3. Focus on a handful of important goals
4. Have the discipline to review it regularly
And if you need any help, get in touch. It’s what our herd does best.