Let’s face it, by February most of us have given up on our New Year’s Resolutions. A huge round of applause if you managed to complete Dry January or Veganuary with things as they are at the moment! That said, if we’ve found resolutions a bit much this year, we shouldn’t give up on the idea of setting ourselves goals. The start of the year is traditionally the time to make plans in both our personal and professional lives. If you’re a small business owner, it’s essential that you block in time to plan, whether your business is a start-up or well established.
At Better Business at Hand, we’re huge fans of a saying or a quote – so what better way to explain why business planning is important for small businesses.
A goal without a plan is just a wish
The well-known quote ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944), is one of our favourites at Better Business at Hand. It’s not enough to have a goal in mind, you need to plan if you want to achieve success.
Business planning is crucial for start-ups. Your first Business Plan helps you understand your business; defining your Mission Statement makes you get to grips with your Why and reason for being. It gives you focus and provides a route map to get established and help your business grow. A well-written Business Plan is essential if you want to get a grant or attract investment. It will also help you future proof your business by detailing finances and outlining contingency plans to help avoid problems further down the line.
Business planning isn’t just for start-ups. Having a plan in place, with clear objectives, from day one of your business will keep you focused on achieving your goals. Without one you may go off track. As a business owner, you need to block in time to plan throughout the life of your business. A solid Business Plan will help you achieve short-term and long-time objectives. It’s the anchor for your business, helping you to set priorities, manage cash flow and create milestones to achieve your goals.
The beginning of the year is a great time to review your Business Plan and set future goals. Don’t just consign it to a dusty vault – it’s a living, breathing, organic and evolving document. The key to achieving growth is strategic planning. It’s essential that you know what you want to achieve and set realistic goals. Any marketing planning must be aligned with your key business goals.
Need help with business planning?
- Better Business at Hand Founder Maria Pombo can help with strategic planning for small businesses. Book appointment with Maria.
- Ivelina Delcheva can advise on operational planning. Book appointment with Ivelina.
- Speak to Stirling Austin about digitalisation and international marketing planning. Book appointment with Stirling.
Business planning can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. You don’t need to produce a weighty document; it’s just about blocking in time to work out the what and most important actions to take to move your business forward and take it to the next level. The Better Business at Hand team are here to guide you, our experts understand small businesses because they run their own.
Cash is king
We’ve all heard the saying ‘Cash is king’, which when used in a business sense, refers to cash being essential to the health and success of a business. A stable cash flow is vital for small businesses. Put simply, cash flow is ‘the amount of money moving into and out of a business’ (Cambridge English Dictionary). As a small business owner, you need to plan your cash flow and know what is coming in and out at all times.
A cash flow forecast is an essential part of business planning. Staying on top of things will help you plan ahead. If you anticipate having cash flow problems, you might need to cut your overheads, arrange further financing or have a sales push. Cash flow forecasts also show if your business is performing well. This might mean that you can recruit new staff or grow your product range. Blocking in time to work on cash flow planning is essential for small business owners as it can help with making vital decisions and ultimately ensure that operations run smoothly.
As a small business owner, you need to take steps to protect your cash flow if a short fall is forecast. You might want to arrange to return stock to suppliers that is just sitting on shelves in your warehouse or agree better payment terms with customers/clients to get cash in more quickly. You can also develop other income streams to help inject cash into the business at quieter times. Plan as far ahead as you can, ideally 12 weeks ahead, and regularly (read weekly) revise your projections. Need advice on financial planning? Our expert Tim Vogel can help with financial planning for small businesses.
Tim is a Chartered Accountant, Magistrate and Forensic Accountant and owns an Accountancy Practice in Norfolk. Book an appointment with Tim to get advice about your cash flow issues.
If your forecasting planning doesn’t look hopeful you need to take positive action and seek help sooner rather than later. You can speak to Tim or Maria about insolvency and debt matters. The Better Business at Hand team can find the right solution for your business.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Nobody sets out to fail in business. You could be lucky, but chances are if you don’t plan what you do, you will not be as successful or might even fail. Hence the well-known phrase ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. Your Business Plan makes you look at essential issues such as what equipment is needed and cash flow. Effective planning can help your business thrive and crucially survive. Business planning becomes even more important in times of crisis and can help you turn things around.
Your Business Plan will have contingency plans built in such as a Plan B should you encounter difficulties. In a crisis many businesses can draw on a separate Business Continuity and Recovery Plan that notes how they can continue to operate when faced with threats and details a route map out of the crisis.
Whether you have a plan or not, the worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand or focus on other things and not address the problem. In times of crisis, it’s easy to get distracted. Don’t worry, it’s likely that you will not be the first business to experience the problem and there could be a tried and tested solution.
You need to block in time to work out what can be done and assess your current position, plan and prioritise. It’s really important that you seek advice as soon as possible. One of our favourite sayings at Better Business at Hand is ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. We’re on hand to help when things get tough.
Do you have a business problem you can’t seem to solve? Help is just a video call away, you can choose from appointments of 15, 30 or 60 minutes to suit your needs and budget. See Meet the Team on our website to find out more about our consultants and how they can support your small business.