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To plan or not to plan – that is the question.

2020 has been one of the most turbulent years businesses have had to face in decades. When it began, the pandemic was being compared to the 2008 financial crash, but it soon became clear that this was something much bigger and far more devastating.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes had to quickly re-think their business plans. Survival was at the forefront of their minds over anything else, with many only looking weeks, or even days, ahead.

While the UK moves towards greener pastures, with the end of lockdown in sight and the road to recovery closer than ever before,  many business leaders and senior teams are still reluctant to plan too far in advance, just in case. From hiring plans to working models, financial commitments and supply chains, businesses have an exceptionally large workload when it comes to planning for the return to work and futureproofing themselves for the ‘new normal’.

With all the insecurity, and the reliance on COVID-19 cases falling dramatically to return to some sort of normality, the big question is this; Is it worth putting time and effort into planning for the next financial year, or is it best to simply roll with the punches?

While, especially over the next few months, there will be the need to stay alert and be ready to react, it’s crucial you still take the time to map out a longer-term plan. This can help your company stay focused and on track, achieve overarching goals and improve company performance.

Know what your goals are
 
The new financial year is the best time for reflection. Take this time to truly look at how your business has coped over the last 12 months, explore areas of success and deep dive into places where your business has struggled.

Use these learnings to not only safeguard yourself from the next volatile few months, but to diversify your offering where needed to make the most out of what works for you and the demand of your consumers. This will help the team create achievable goals which can be met, even if the worst were to happen and the UK went back into another full lockdown.

Avoid nasty surprises
Taking the time to plan will allow you to sit back and assess any risks your company may encounter over the next 12 months. While COVID-19 most certainly overshadows most problems on business leaders’ agendas, it can be easy to overlook other potential hurdles that might creep up on you. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that the more prepared we are for crisis to strike, the less damage we endure.

Boost morale
A lack of planning, especially in worrying times, give signals of  arrogance or even indifference. While this attitude may be no problem to you as a business owner, it will most certainly give your employees unnecessary worries, especially if the worst-case scenario were to become a reality.

Having clear plans, financial or otherwise, and guidelines of what to expect over the next 12 months can help to reassure teams that their best interests are at the top of your priority list. In turn, you’ll witness a much more productive, motivated and loyal workforce, which can only be positive for your reputation and bottom line.

While no one quite knows how 2021/22 is going to pan out, if you have a robust and clear plan in place, you can protect yourself, your employees and your brand from unnecessary damage. The over-arching advice? Ensure you are ready for the unexpected, and don’t rely on reaction alone.