Christmas is a time of year that forces reflection. It’s the best time to take a step back and think about what the year ahead might have in store.
It’s a chance to look at the areas of your business that have been neglected and are in need of attention. It’s also a chance to work out what you’re going to spend time on, and what you’re going to stop spending so much time on. What are the pain points, but also, what have been the success stories?
As we head into the New Year there are three resolutions every business owner should consider as they face 2018.
Strategy is for life, not just for Christmas
Haines Watts research this year showed that either through lack of time, or lack of head space, UK business owners’ planning is falling short. Almost half (47%) rely on nothing more than a financial forecast for the full extent of their business planning. The reality is that financial plans are not business plans, and they are far from enough to secure the safe growth of the business.
Unfortunately, even those of us that set out to develop a detailed business plan often use lack of time as the reason not to. More than four fifths of business owners (84%) are only able to spend between 1-10% of their working week planning for the future. But to blame lack of time is sometimes too easy. To say there isn’t time is really just saying it’s lower down the priority list, or being put-off entirely.
However, focus on planning will be rewarded. Our research shows that those that regularly make the time to pause for breath and focus predominantly on planning are twice as likely to run fast growth businesses. Despite this, these strategy-focused leaders currently only constitute 9% of UK business owners.
Be outward facing
The biggest problem isn’t necessarily that plans lack strategic thinking, but often that they are too inward looking. While thinking internal first is common, it shouldn’t be.
You need to train yourself to look at the bigger picture, and see the threats and opportunities the market provides as a starting point for your planning. Even though this perspective may be scary and feel big, it’s where strategy is born.
Management team or team of managers?
As well as long term growth benefits, one of the reasons for developing a business plan is to align the whole company under a common purpose. However, strategy is regularly pushed outside of working hours, with a third (31%) of business owners utilising their downtime during weekends and evenings.
This makes it even harder for the management team to truly align with the intentions and ambitions of the business owner. How can they align on strategy when the strategic work is all being done at home, in isolation?
We also know that the view of business owners and their teams can often be divided and our research has backed that up. Almost nine out of ten (87%) of those on senior management teams claim that they are trusted to run the business in the owner’s absence when, almost half of business owners (42%) don’t think the business could survive even a single week if they left it to their management team to run.
The key to closing these gaps is to get your full team together and dive in deep – to analyse the business and articulate the vision in detail. Ultimately, the goal of these discussions will be the formation of a full strategy. One that will make those aspirations come to light, and come to life. This can’t happen if business owners hold all the cards.
As you return from your time off, be sure to start the year as you mean to go on. Revisit your planning process and get some advice, speak to one of our partners. Or test the strength and resilience of your business today with our online business fitness questionnaire.