Ready for Anything07th November 2018
If you were going hiking, you wouldn’t set off with just a few essential items in your bag, like a map, a water bottle and a few bars of Kendal Mint Cake to snack on, would you?
No. You would think carefully about your needs, and plan accordingly.
For example, if you knew you were prone to blisters, you might pack plasters. If you planned to take lots of photos, you’d pack a good camera.
But you would also recognise that some factors that might affect your hike are totally beyond your control. Like, for example, the weather.
And you would plan for that too, packing a mac if you think it might rain, or bringing sunscreen if you suspect it might warm up later.
It’s pretty easy to predict these environmental changes – that’s what weather forecasts are for.
But what if you’re not planning a hike – but putting together your business plan for 2019? (Frankly, I’m not sure what sounds more challenging.)
Well, there are some similarities.
You have probably thought carefully about what’s going on in your business right now and what your priorities are for next year, and planned accordingly.
But it’s not enough to gaze inward.
Here, too, there are external factors which could turn your priorities completely upside down.
Are there, for example any changes in the way your industry operates, or the way your customers are behaving? Any regulatory changes that might be coming up over the horizon? Or changes to trading conditions?
You need to be aware of the way that the landscape is changing around you, and plan for them, so you can manage the risks…. and also take advantage of opportunities.
The biggie for 2019, of course, is Brexit.
Although a transition period may still happen, there are many scenarios in which the UK walks away with no deal.
And that could mean massive changes to the way some companies do business – overnight.
Duties on imports and exports… Visa requirements if you’re sending a staff member to Europe… Market prices…. These and more may all change suddenly, rendering your business plan for 2019 instantly irrelevant if you depend, in any way, on Europe.
A very different example is the government’s Make Tax Digital plan.
Did you know that as of April 2019, VAT-registered businesses will have to submit their VAT returns using software that is compatible with HMRC’s?
This probably sounds technical and boring, but if you’re not ready it might be hugely disruptive to your business. Come the end of March, your staff will find themselves at their wits’ end, trying to sort all this out…. And your finances will end up a mess.
The bottom line is that to run a resilient business, you have to sometimes look beyond what’s happening in your business internally, and consider what’s going on in the outside world.
The environment in which you operate changes the whole time. And while you can’t predict every eventuality, you need to think through what might happen. You do not want to be taken by surprise in business.
As finance directors, we are there to help you make smart financial decisions. So we can work with you to analyse what upcoming changes might affect you – and assess the financial risks and opportunities for your business.
It’s what a finance director does - not a bookkeeper or accountant, but someone who’s there to help your business plan and grow.
Let’s help your business reach its peak!