This pandemic is proving to be the biggest threat to businesses in generations. In a time like this, where the only certainty is uncertainty, it’s critical that you can plan out your business’ future.
Here, Rick Smith, managing director of Forbes Burton company rescue and recovery consultants, gives some sound advice on how best to prepare for a difficult few months.
A good place to start in a situation like this is by planning out what approach your business plan will take. We recommend Situation, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action and Control. By following each step, you’ll have a better idea of where your business is, and where you’re going.
The first thing to do is to take stock of what is actually going on and find out what has happened to your business as a result. Get your cash flow figures, talk to creditors and debtors to find out what they are doing (are they going to be chasing you or not paying?), find out what government resources are available to you and your staff. It’s impossible to plan anything until you know what is happening.
Now you’ve got an idea of where your business stands and you have all your information to hand, start planning some objectives. Where do you want to be in 3 months, 6 months or a year down the line?
In this step, it’s time to plan out the necessary steps to reach the objective you’ve just set – if you choose to keep the business going, a strategy may be to ensure cash flow is stabilised and there is enough money to pay staff. Otherwise, how will you mothball the business? Start planning the path to reach your objectives.
Now it’s time to look into the specifics of carrying out your strategy. What assistance can you get from the government, e.g grants or the interest-free loans, how can you apply for these? You could also look at delaying payments to creditors for six months (or reducing them), chasing your own debtors and reducing costs wherever possible.
In the action phase, it’s critical to plan out how you’ll put your tactics into action. Include timescales and milestones of when the tactics are going to be put into action and who will be responsible for implementing them.
Once your plan has been sprung into action, it’s important to record who has done what and when, as well as record whether the tactic worked. Finally, has the objective been reached? If yes, then your plan has worked. If no, go back to the start with the lessons you’ve learned. There are almost always ways that things can be done differently or tweaked to improve performance.
Remember that a business plan has to be fluid and adaptable. It needs to be a proactive plan that can be quickly implemented, but also reactive enough to adjust for changing conditions. Keep referring back to it, for example, what the government are doing and how and what the pandemic affects next could change your plan massively.
It’s important to use your time wisely. If you feel that you aren’t prepared enough, it’s probably because you haven’t got a robust plan in place. The time to secure your future is now.