Our MD ripped up our business plan. I was shocked...23rd September 2020
On 9/11 – the original one, in 2001 – I was interim Finance Director at a company that sold specialist software into insurance companies.
It was the last day of a 3-day retreat for the board…
…Which we’d spent doing a strategic review of the business, and developing a new business plan.
At some point in the afternoon, the chairman – who was known for his dry humour – told us that “some idiot” had flown a plane into the Twin Towers.
We didn’t believe him, and wheeled a TV into the room – just in time to see the second plane fly into the South Tower.
We were all completely overwhelmed by the tragedy.
Meanwhile, the MD of the company ceremoniously stood up, held up the business plans we’d developed so far – and tore them up, right in front of us.
It was so dramatic – I’ll never forget the moment.
He had understood immediately (and correctly) that the insurance market was about to go into meltdown, and that we would have to completely rethink our approach. And indeed, the entire business changed within weeks.
When the Coronavirus crisis hit, many businesses were forced to do the same thing…
…Tearing up their business plan – metaphorically, at least - or completely ignoring it.
Our world changed from end-to-end as well…
…And the result has been that businesses have had to pivot, rethink and adjust their strategies and operations.
The problem is, most businesses haven’t replaced the business plan which became instantly irrelevant with anything new.
Many have been in “survival mode”, struggling to deal with the constant change and all the necessary adjustments…
…And in many cases, struggling to keep their doors open and their staff employed.
They haven’t had the time or headspace to step away from the business for a day or two (like we did at that retreat all those years ago), to re-evaluate and plan ahead in an orderly, calm, more effective manner.
And with the environment still changing so rapidly, perhaps it was also premature for many businesses…
…At least until recently.
Despite the “Rule of 6” and local lockdowns, the business environment feels calmer than it did back in those early days of Coronavirus.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty, to be sure – but not the same kind of panic.
We’re starting to be able to predict what might reasonably happen a month or two down the road.
And as I said last week, the government is gradually pushing businesses back to a more normal environment…
…Where all the Coronavirus support schemes and loans are moving into the back mirror, and businesses are being forced to stand on their own two feet once again.
It’s becoming less justifiable now – and even dangerous – to continue operating without a new, well-thought-out Coronavirus-era business plan.
Having clear goals for your business and a clear path mapped out to fulfil those goals is key to growth – and to your business’s financial health.
In an environment like ours, having your direction of travel and the accompanying steps worked out is actually more important than ever, not less.
It will help you steer your business through choppy waters in a more deliberate, effective way.
In fact, if you do it properly, just the very process of putting one together will benefit you enormously…
…Helping you identify the threats and opportunities for your business in this brave new world of ours…
…Prompting you to think through what you really want from your business personally, financially and in every other way, given everything we’ve been through…
…Giving you new ideas…
…And put together a really strong plan-of-action, that will make you more confident as owner or CEO.
(And it doesn’t matter if the situation changes again, by the way… You’ll never find a moment when your business environment is completely static.
Business plans are always meant to be created and then continually revisited.)
That’s exactly what we do in our Just One Day programme.
We spend a whole day with you and your directors or shareholders, in our office – so you can get out of your normal environment and think about your business with no distractions. (Nowadays, all done with social distancing measures in place, of course.)
And we spend that intensive day working out together where you want your business to go – and how you’re going to get there.
The outside facilitation and input are invaluable, and our financial expertise always adds an important dimension to the conversation.
It’s a structured, time-efficient and most of all efficient process, which our clients routinely tell us is the most valuable time they spend on their business all year.