9 Tips for Business Planning in Uncertainty

Is Your Planning Process on Track?

focus on business planning in uncertaintyBusiness planning is frequently a challenge, and business planning in uncertainty raises the game to a whole new level.

Even when social, economic, financial, trade and international factors are in a period of adjustment, business leaders are called upon to set a course for action. Peers and advisors can help provide context and support. Consider the following tips to help navigate the uncertain waters of change.

Take a Deep Breath.

  1. Plan more, not less. Resist the temptation to hunker down, escape from society and hibernate until the spring. As tempting as it sounds, curling up and playing dead can be devastating for your business. During uncertain times, you need a Plan A, as well as a Plan B and Plan C.
  2. Be analytic, not emotional, in your decision-making. Emotions can run wild; don’t let them take your business along with them.
  3. What is changing? How, and why? Search for patterns and trends. Use the past and present to envision tomorrow.

Set Your Plan.

  1. Make at least three projections for the future.
    • What you believe will happen. This is your best guess of the world, the market, and your customers.
    • The worst-case scenario. This is the absolute worst combination of factors you can imagine, given the past, present, and trends.
    • Any other scenarios. These are other possibilities, based on your analysis and research.
  2. Analyze your position in your best guess scenario.
    • What are the threats this presents? What are the opportunities? Almost every change brings both positive and negative possibilities for your business.
    • Given the scenario, what are your strategic advantages in this world? What are your weaknesses?
  3. Set your plan thoughtfully.
    • Take advantage of opportunities. Set strategies to address threats.
    • Keep options open. When planning in uncertainty, give yourself leeway to quickly adapt to change.
    • Have a plan for the worst-case scenario. Think about what you would do if the absolute worst imaginable were to occur. Hopefully you will never have to come close to implementing this plan, but facing the worst head-on can be empowering.

Act Responsibly.

  1. Act with integrity; build bridges. When change offers huge advantages, it is not a license to steal. And when things get rough, breaking all the rules is not likely to reap the benefits you expect. Don’t compromise yourself.
  2. Avoid both paralysis and foolhardiness. Strive for the middle ground. Move forward, purposefully and carefully.
  3. Observe and adjust. Even in the most predictable of times, change happens. When planning in uncertainty, vigilance is critical. Things can shift rapidly, and the magnitude and impact of change can be extreme. Be ready to move accordingly.

Uncertain times bring both challenges and opportunities. Consult with peers and advisors, observe trends and patterns, and move wisely to plan in uncertain times.

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