As an experienced business leader and head of BHP Consulting’s expert team of corporate advisors, who specialise in delivering business growth across all industries, I often find myself talking to people about the benefits of planning. It seems a simple concept that many assume should be a given in most businesses, but many companies simply don’t plan properly, and that can lead to all types of problems.

A business plan is of course essential, but it’s surprising how many SMEs don’t have one in place. It’s often even more important in family-run businesses where succession is a possibility and in companies that have grown very quickly and not had the time to take stock. A business plan that covers sales, costs and margins should be a basic staple that is both essential, and with the right guidance, easy to develop. Ideally, this should also include key growth opportunities for the business too.

Another area that SMEs really need to consider is a people plan, which can address everything from the future business structure to the development of existing staff. The success of any business lies in the people that work for it and lead it, yet it’s an area that is often ignored when it comes to planning for growth.

Future management structures and senior leadership succession planning really are a must when it comes to securing the successful long-term development of a business. Sometimes it’s an area people find hard to talk about, especially if it’s a family-run firm or a business that has several owners and directors, but it’s important to recognise that senior leadership will inevitably change, and the best way to manage that, is through planning ahead. That’s why a management development plan detailing possible future business leaders, that also maps out their personal growth, is a great way of supporting the vision and future aims of a business. If it is put together well, it can also be a great way of engaging with more junior members of a business too.

Once a business has a management development plan, it should be possible for the business to understand where there are gaps in its existing team and therefore, the recruitment that needs to

be planned for. This can be addressed either through external recruitment or internal promotion. As a result, new people can be identified for the roles well in advance of them becoming available. This forward-thinking approach will ensure smooth handovers, a continuity of knowledge and of course benefit both the people working within the organisation and its clients.

In conclusion it’s always a good idea to plan. With a clear goal you are more likely to achieve the desired outcome, be it for financial gain or for the development or enhancement of your team.