Shipleys LLP

Chartered Accountants and Professional Business Advisers

Keeping an eye on the bigger picture

First published by Evolution CBS on 12 November 2015

Most business owners understand the importance of taking time out to work on their business and not just in it – in other words, looking at the bigger picture, rather than getting bogged down in day-to-day operational matters.

When you’re taking stock of your business, it’s useful to understand exactly where you are in your business’s lifecycle. We all know that new businesses face many challenges and a significant proportion fail in the early years.

There are often difficult decisions to be made about investing in the business’s longterm future to get through the first ‘wall’. Commitment to premises and hiring an employee are perhaps the most common examples.

Having got through the start-up phase, many businesses enjoy good times with some payback for the initial investment and hard work. But after a while owners can start to feel frustrated, increasingly stretched and may enter a phase of disillusionment. And the numbers might not continue to look so good.

In many ways it’s like facing a second brick wall. Some will break through to a further period of enhanced growth – typically where real business value is created. But others will plateau or even go into decline.

Getting it ‘right’

It’s always critical to have the right number of people with the right skills doing the right thing, and offer the right products or services with the right processes of reaching and selling to customers – whatever ‘right’ means! You might then need to look at the business culture, growth strategy and plans to maximise equity value to break through the ‘second wall’ or drive enhanced growth.

Timing is key

The overall state of the economy, as well as the relative health of the sector in which you operate, needs to be carefully monitored. As we come out of a recession, businesses that have been focusing on internal efficiencies to stay afloat, often suddenly start to spend on staff, new equipment, raw materials and the like. During this phase, buying decisions are often made more quickly than at other times, and suppliers who win new businesses and forge relationships at this point can be well placed to enjoy long-term benefits.

Where are we now?

Most entrepreneurs think that we are currently climbing out of a V shaped recession, although some believe we are in the middle of a W, or near the bottom of the second trough, with a period of uncertainty ahead before we enter a phase of significant growth.

Whatever the situation with your particular industry or your region, it’s important to take a step back and consider the likely impact and outlook for your business. A bit of forward planning can help you be a front-runner and reap the rewards