Business Strategy, Why Bother?

You’re called an entrepreneur and entrepreneurs are passionate about the big idea….just instinctively go for it….no need for stuffy planning…right?

You make your own success, reacting in the moment. After all the world just changed within a month…

Plus, technology is laying waste to markets and creating new sectors overnight, so how could any plan stay relevant for more than five minutes? Anyway, the time spent planning is time away from building your company….

So what is the point then?

Often, when we ask business owners about planning, after sharing some of the points above, they usually end with something like “I’ve been in business five years and never needed a plan”. But when we really get into it, they’ve actually been in business for a year…and just repeated the stuff four times over. They’ve gone nowhere slowly. 

Have you felt you really should have a plan for years, but have never quite got round to it? So you carry those plans around in your head, unshared, unchallenged, unmeasured…unachieved?

Research from the 50’s to the present day shows a massive advantage to those businesses that formally plan. They are almost three times more likely to survive for more than five years and twice as likely to survive for more than ten years. 

How You Plan Makes A Difference

Research suggests that plans that define the Customer Value Proposition are the most successful, and that setting goals, tracking progress and making changes to your business as you learn, are critical elements of the whole point of your plan…delivering it.

Plans don’t need to be 100’s of pages long. It’s better to analyse your market, customer’s needs and competitor’s approach in separate documents, then set out only the essential elements of your Customer Value Proposition, your Competitive Strategy (the beating heart of your plan) and your Critical Success Factors in just ten pages. This is your “working document”, easy to use, share with your team, communicate and update as you learn more about what’s working and how customers respond. 

Funding and Selling

Formal plans show funders how passionate you are about your company. If you can talk clearly and persuasively about your idea, your target market, your sales, and marketing strategies, and support this with a written plan, you are far more likely to get funding than those that didn’t do. Profit multiples when selling a business are significantly higher where you can show the buyer your former plans, how you plotted your actual performance against those plans and can extrapolate a believable success into the future. 


It’s not a question of whether you should plan or not- it’s what kind of planning you do. It must be kept alive and adapt to the constant changes you face. It’s not about making a heroic prediction of the future. It is about having an objective and reasoned view on the choices you have made. Then being decisive in moving into focused delivery, and monitoring the results achieved compared to the objectives you set. 

At Ascentis our approach to strategic planning is called “Next Level Strategic Planning” and involves six phases of planning, plus four phases to transition into delivery…a period often neglected. Within those phases there are three priorities when planning in turbulent times

These are:-

  • Developing a shared and compelling Purpose and Vision
  • Forming a view on the future Competitive Environment, and 
  • Risk and Contingency planning in your action plans, (The plan within the plan.)

Other Articles in our Rescue, Recovery, Reinvent Series:-

Article 1 – Businesses That Plan Do Better

Article 3 – The Importance of Purpose, Vision and Values 

Article 4 – How to Predict the Unpredictable