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Evolution or revolution?

A sound business plan is the foundation for a successful enterprise – but it can be difficult for business owners to know how and when to change tack.

The events of the last nine months or so have reminded us that nothing can be taken for granted. Unless your plan was written before the outbreak of the pandemic, it will almost inevitably be based on assumptions and forecasts that are no longer valid. It should also consider how you would react to less severe but more predictable disruption, such as a power outage or water damage.

When assessing their business plan, many entrepreneurs fail to recognise the importance of their own ambitions. For example, if your objective is to build the business quickly and sell it so you can move onto something else, you will need a plan that supports fast growth and a product or service whose value can be easily explained to potential purchasers.

A change for the better

The type of business you are running will determine how often the plan needs to be reviewed or updated. If it is a family-run enterprise your children may be approaching an age where they can become more involved and may have their own ideas for how to move the business forward.

Don’t be afraid to make major changes. Some would see an acceptance that the initial plan was flawed as an admission of failure, but it is nothing of the sort – in fact, it takes courage to admit you are heading in the wrong direction and do something about it.

It would be easy to beat yourself up about the mistakes you have made along the way, but no one is perfect. As long as you have learned from your mistakes you will be better placed to succeed in the future.

The value of a second opinion

Even when you have set out a business plan, there may still be ambitions that you find difficult to explain because they are ‘in your head’. One way of getting these ideas into a format that can be explained in a business plan is to discuss them with a trusted advisor, perhaps your accountant or a business consultant.

Someone outside the business may find it easier to make sense of your thoughts and could even provide valuable feedback on whether they are commercially viable. In fact, it could be a good time to consider if there is someone out there who could act as a ‘critical friend’.

Don’t put planning off

Updating a business plan can seem like a low priority task when there are so many other things that need doing. But it is a valuable exercise, even if all it does is strengthen your confidence that the business is heading in the right direction. There is plenty of research to suggest that companies with a clear, up-to-date business plan tend to be more successful.

The worst time to make changes is when a business is in trouble. Working on the basis that prevention is better than cure, taking action when you are trading successfully will be much less painful for you and your employees.

More businesses fail because of the absence of proper business planning than an inability to grow their revenues. Make the most of the insights derived from a cloud-based accounting solution such as Big Red Cloud and you can look ahead with confidence.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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