A well-thought-out business plan is crucial for responding to Brexit writes Joe Healy, Enterprise Ireland, High Potential Start Up Unit.
Now is the time to devise and revise your business plan. Due to the continuing uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU in relation to trade, customs, tariffs and borders, it isn’t enough to have a Plan A— you need a Plan B and even C.
Scenario planning has become the order of the day, enabling you to prepare for a variety of eventualities. The aim is preparedness— planning for different scenarios provides a structure to work from, whatever happens.
Having your business plan written means everybody can follow it. It is not about spending lots of time on it, it’s about doing it and getting management to buy into it. This means that when it is finalised, it is not just the CEO’s plan and he or she doesn’t have to then go and sell it. It has to be agreed, bought into, and ready to implement.
Focus on Flexibility
The aim now is to factor flexibility into your business planning. Recognise that you have time to do this and— if you put the work in on the planning side— that you will not be left reacting under pressure when the final Brexit deal emerges.
Look at the implications of a variety of events and from various perspectives— from a cash point of view or from a people and resources point of view. If you are taking on a marketing person, for example, figure out now if that person is best placed in the UK or in France or the US.
Each scenario will have multiple implications that should now be teased out; from what product to develop, to where to spend your marketing budget, to how the CEO is to best spend his or her time.
Scenario planning will give rise to lots of overlap, but doing it will also pay dividends because nothing helps to settle things more than having to write it down.
To date, much of the attention in relation to Brexit has been to do with currency. There is, however, a whole lot more strategy that needs to be put in place behind that. The business plan is the place to do that and now is the time to do it.
When reviewing your business plan, assess the competitive strength of the company and your resources and capabilities in relation to your plan. Do you have the resources required to deal with a variety of possible new circumstances?
Research your market
Next, look at your market. Extensive market research is essential when assessing both new and changed markets. If it’s a new market, consider trialling your product or service first. Once you have done an analysis of the target market, consider whether you need to make any changes to your offering to deliver a solution to these customers.
Our overseas teams will assist you in evaluating new market opportunities. Once you’ve done your research and validated your offering, look at your sales and market strategy.
Use customer feedback
Hone your customer value proposition. Gather feedback from customers as to the benefits of your product or service, and study competitors. Seek to identify whether or not there is a pipeline-driven, repeatable sales process in place.
A focus on lead generation and an action-oriented plan for each market is key in this process.
Your business plan will also need to address research and development (R&D).
Innovation is essential for your business to be competitive. Do you have the structure and processes in place to ensure your products or services are competitive in export markets?
Look at opportunities for ongoing development of tailored products to meet local market or segment-specific needs. Your business plan will not stack up without a close analysis of financial projections.
Operational planning is key
Ask yourself, does your company have clear processes in place to ensure your offering is delivering efficiently to maximise profit? Can your company produce accurate and timely financial data and can your team interpret and analyse that data?
Establish whether your business has the ability to fund its growth internally or, if not, where it can access the required additional funding externally.
It is now more important than ever to understand where you might adjust your business plan to account for any changes to your UK market, and whether diversification into another market is a suitable strategic response to Brexit.
Remember, every successful business is driven by a solid operational business plan. It is the first step for any company faced with a significant change in circumstance. Undertaking it will not only help your company identify any new barriers for your business as a result of Brexit, but also any new opportunities that may arise.