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The fact that we’re heading towards a general election is big news, but it hasn’t changed anything for the businesspeople I speak to every day.

It’s an example of the kind of white noise which I find distracts SME owners from being confident and proactive in their decision-making and provides them with an excuse to put off difficult tasks for another ‘quieter’ day.

But do you know a business owner who has quiet days? Me neither.

So, I have the same advice today as I did before Brexit or Trump or this general election: if you’re not going to plan for the future today, then when are you going to do so?

No such thing as ‘too hard’

Of course, I refer to the more challenging areas of business planning, the ones which busy business owners often put in the ‘too hard’ pile because of the technical, emotional or time investment required to complete them.

From Inheritance Tax, succession and exit planning to writing business wills and shareholder agreements: these are vital pieces of planning which help you steer your business’s future and make its structure more robust today.

I know owners do understand this – these are the issues that my clients find themselves thinking about at 3am. But, come light of day, life happens and, yet again, no action is taken.

Removing barriers to successful planning

So here’s my guide to how you can do today what you may regret putting off until tomorrow.

Firstly, understand why people find some actions harder to implement. I commonly see five main reasons:

  • The hydra effect: when asking one question creates five more
  • The ostrich effect: when it requires facing up to an emotionally difficult topic – such as death, poor health or leaving the business in someone else’s hands
  • The blinkers effect: where your focus is on actions which offer clear, short-term benefit – such as increased profits
  • The rearview mirror effect: where an owner’s view of the business doesn’t keep pace with reality, a common issue with quick-growing start ups
  • The Scrooge effect: where there is a resistance to investing in the intangible.

Once you’ve identified the barriers, it’s time to make time.

Book some diary space and make sure everyone knows this is important work which can’t be moved or cancelled for anything short of an emergency.

And don’t be afraid to bring in an expert, someone with the experience and knowledge to help you ask the right questions, find the right answers and provide the motivation you need to keep on track.

So, don’t get distracted by the political noise; just get on with the business of running your business.

Is there a big business decision that you have been putting off?

Find and contact your local Haines Watts office

About the author

Karen McLellan

Karen specialises in providing business consultancy, tax mitigation and accountancy services to owner-managed businesses. As a business owner herself, Karen understands the challenges of building and running a business.

She provides strategic advice to clients which has a positive impact on the growth and value of their business, and which helps the individual achieve their personal goals. Whether its advice on restructuring, tax mitigation, succession planning or preparing for sale, Karen can help the client get to where they want to be.

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