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Planning for the Future

Yee Group Ltd

So you want to plan for the future?  Do you know in general terms, what your company will look like in the future?

Answering that question is a good starting point. If your business is unclear about the 'future', this blog may provide you with some advice on formulating your plan.

You shouldn't start with a question; but let's dare to be different.

Are you an avid planner, or do you rely on those oft quoted, gut feelings and taking ad hoc actions? In the former category, you will be familiar with planning routes for your business meetings. For the latter, you will probably have been successful in your business by taking spontaneous decisions that have helped you run a profitable company.

In many cases, there is every possibility that you comfortably sit somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. And, that is to your advantage. It will provide you and your business with key opportunities to exploit.

For this blog, I am assuming that you have an annual Business Plan to which you are already operating. In that case, determining what the future could offer your business can take a variety of routes. In my business, we use our annual Plan to flag up new opportunities to innovate in our strategic business streams. This requires the Yee Group to monitor and evaluate new products, for example. Applying innovations can provide one route to differentiate your business from your competitors.

Determining what the future might hold for your business can involve crystal ball gazing. Importantly, that activity can be productive in its own right; but, it does have its limitations. However, I believe that of more relevance is considering what future you would like to achieve for your business.

This should be based on a combination of a well-developed 3 to 5-year plan (from which your annual plans can be derived); plus a 'get go' spirit to test, evaluate and apply techniques that will assist you to exploit the new opportunities that will arise. Some of these may be off your business radar at present; however, that is a situation that your plan will help to alleviate.                                                                            

Naturally, you won't be in a position to attempt to explore every new opening. However, your Business Plan will help you to select those that offer ease of 'attack', and a higher probability of (profitable) success. With the right attitude of mind, ability to evaluate and by preparing action plans you will have a higher probability of success that will add to your bottom line.                                                                                                                                            

Determining what the future may look like is for some a difficult area to consider. As the landmark Brexit decision confirmed, many so-called trusted experts have been shown to be floundering when it comes to making accurate predictions. For many years, it has been widely understood that there are significant dangers in making plans beyond 5 years ahead.                                                                      

Yes, I know that that results to some degree in short-termism. But, the dangers of relying on hindsight alone can be a deciding factor in how to proceed. If you look back carefully, you will soon discover that it would have been very difficult to accurately predict where you are today, from where you were 5 years ago.                                                                                         

Nonetheless, your 5-year window will serve as an effective and defined period for your plan. For many businesses, there are likely to be major opportunities to capture and develop with the right structure, processes and resource in place in your business.

The action of deciding about the 'future', can serve as a catalyst to make changes, upgrade processes, and review other plans. I know from experience that our Chamber members have made significant advances from their definitive ‘plan for their future’. As one leading services business recently confided in me, 'It's never too late to start'.                                                                                                

This member continued, "Taking time to investigate what the future for the service sector holds and where it will be applying new technologies for the better use of resources, including automation, is highly advantageous.                                                                                                                                    

"Armed with that information, we are now taking informed decisions. We are up to speed with what we believe are the significant developments that are in the pipeline. There are likely to be others but our research and monitoring of developments up to 5 years ahead will give us a far clearer picture ‘going forward’. We will have removed most of the fog from our vision.  And, we have drawn informed conclusions that will assist us; and which are likely to impact on our business, its operations and critically on our bottom line".                                                                             

Looking back, taking the first step to investigate the 'future' was the most difficult decision for the Board of the company to make. Once taken, an action plan with target dates and responsibilities was quickly adopted with key actions being assigned.

As you and your senior team will have the most informed knowledge about your business, where it has come from and where you would like to develop it, then preparing the Business Plan should be undertaken by that team. External resources can contribute in the preparation, but it is critically your team’s plan.

Whilst you may be tempted to copy an existing plan, these short cuts won't work in your favour. In fact, they will immediately limit your overall success. Your plan is for your business. Down in the detail of your business will be a different ethos, different business strategy, management style, qualified staff, levels of expertise, breadth of experience, and key target markets.

Good luck with your ‘plan for the future’.

Simon Chapman is President of the Burton and District Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director of Yee Group Ltd a leading multi discipline contractor serving the whole of the Midlands region.

Yee Group Ltd celebrated 30 years of engineering excellence in 2015 - a significant milestone for this award winning contractor headquartered in Burton upon Trent. 

The company is a multi-discipline contractor offering the services required by the managers of industrial, commercial educational and public premises.  Yee Group Ltd offer a range of specialised services in three broad business streams: SAFETY, SPACE & TAILORED SOLUTIONS.