Dealing with change: building flexibility in your business plan

Dealing with change: building flexibility in your business plan

Even the best laid plans of mice and men can sometimes go awry. Planning is an integral part of good management, but you never know when an unexpected roadblock will be thrown in your path.

When you’re running a business, there are an infinite number of variables than can change over the course of your business journey – and that means being able to cope with change effectively.

So, what should your course of action be when the proverbial spanner is thrown in the works?

Adapting tounexpected challenges

The key to dealing with unexpected challenges is to have flexibility built into your business plan from the outset.

We’d always advise having very clear, defined objectives in place when formulating your business plan for the coming year – know where you want to get to, and know how you’re going to get there (in the most effective way possible for the business).

But to deal effectively with change you also need options:

  • Always have a Plan B, or even a Plan C, in reserve to provide you with an alternative route to your goal.
  • Don’t make your strategy a rigid, immovable thing.
  • Build options and flexibility into the model.

With this fluidity in place, when the giant oak tree of fate does fall across the road, you’ve got a plan already in place to get around it. Don’t just blindly follow the sat-nav and hope someone else comes to crane that oak tree out of the way!

It’s a case of reacting quickly, effectively and – mostimportantly – highly proactively to the hurdles that are put in your path.

Have great forecasting in place

As we’ve said, you can never predict exactly what challenges will come your way. But if you have the very best forecasting tools in place, you can do a lot of work to mitigate the potential damage of a hiccup in your plan.

There are a number of cloud-based business intelligence products available on the market, and they can be great tools for putting forecasting in place to improve your future view of the business.

By extrapolating forward from your current and historic data, it’s possible to build a very clear picture of where the business will be in the future – based on dependable, empirical data taken from your own business information.

With business intelligence, you can:

  • Forecast future revenues and expected profits.
  • Predict customer growth and attrition.
  • Identify any regular dips in cash flow due to seasonability in your industry.

Business intelligence software isn’t truly a crystal ball – it can’t tell you if that oak tree is going to fall across the road. But it can tell you how fast you’ll be travelling when it does fall and how much petrol you’ll have left in the tank to take an alternative route.

How to steer your team through the changes

Your team are a critical element in your ability to adapt to change.

Just because a particular event wasn’t in the plan it doesn’t mean that your team should give up. And with the right training, engagement and strategic thinking, you can build a team of people that actually relish change.

Growth and strength in the business come from being challenged. So having people on board who enjoy the challenge, like the unpredictability and can react well to unexpected circumstances will give you real power in the company.

In essence, it comes down to having the correct attitude:

  • Control the things you can.
  • Predict the outcomes (where possible).
  • Let go of the things you can’t control.
  • React positively when challenged.

Talk to us about your business plans

If you’re sitting down to sketch out your 2016 business plan, now is a great time to come and talk to us about building true flexibility into your plan.

We can help you set up clear forecasting for the next 12 months, and help you get as clear a picture as possible of the road ahead.

Please do get in touch if you’d like to book in a planning session and set your business up to deal with those unexpected changes.