Avoiding the traps of strategic planning

Some form of strategic planning is essential for all businesses that want to improve their long-term financial performance. However, it can be difficult to do it effectively, especially without external help and constructive criticism. 

Common pitfalls

For many businesses, 'strategy' is too often:

  • an overly simplistic vision, which is not necessarily grounded in tangible, competitive advantage
  • concerned only with general objectives, without spelling out the 'how'
  • too broad in scope, and insufficiently broken down by different product or market segments
  • controlled exclusively by too small a number of individuals
  • based upon inaccurate or wishful financial projections
  • focused only on profitability or sales measures, meaning that other important issues, such as exit values on sale of the business are often not factored in.

A new perspective

To avoid these traps, it is useful to take a fresh perspective on the business. You need to look at the wider picture, including such things as the 'PEST factors (political, economic, social and technical); the actions of your competitors, the efficiency of your systems and cost management; and the factors that drive growth in your business.

A good external adviser can often help in achieving this perspective. They can do this not just by coming up with imaginative ideas for growth and strategy, but also by facilitating discussions, by helping you to evaluate options, and by asking you searching questions about your business, which stimulate creative thinking and help you find your own solutions.

Practical measures

Above all, strategic planning must result in practical measures which ultimately benefit your bottom line.

Strategies should be broken down into step-by-step processes, deadlines and responsibilities decided, and project management guidelines put in place so that ideas can be implemented. Measures that will enable you to track success should also be established.

As your accountants, we can help you with much more than just your tax returns. We can assist in many of the areas that will enable your business to achieve long-term financial success. These include such things as preparing cash flow forecasts and business plans, minimising your tax burden and helping you to maximise the opportunities for raising finance.

Contact us, and we will be delighted to discuss these issues with you.

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