Post-it notes

One in ten small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners in the UK scribble their business plans on a Post-it note, putting their financial survival at risk, according to npower Business.

The research showed that a small numbers of SMEs in fact rely on just a few lines scribbled onto a Post-it note as their only form of long-term financial planning. These ad-hoc business projections are often jotted down at the time the company is formed when seeking initial finance, then never looked at nor added to again.

“Post-it note planning” is the favoured option of a third of all hospitality and events companies, with thousands of fast food outlets, cafes, bars and nightclubs reliant on planning on the hoof. A quarter of all transport and logistics SMEs also rely on improvised plans.

Some 15% of retailers on Britain’s high streets also jot their plans down on a Post-it. While 88% of Britain’s retailers think it is useful for a company to have a business plan in place to support growth, just half have created one to support their company as it evolves.

These statistics come at a time when many small firms are struggling to achieve significant growth - finding it increasingly hard to secure new funding from traditional high street lenders.

While 'Post-it planning' companies are the most disorganised and favoured by just 9% of British companies, three other categories of business planning emerged from the research: “Mini-planners” who prefer to draft bite-sized plans on smartphones and tablets (24%) ; “Detail addicts”, 50%, who see the value in producing a detailed, full-scale plan drilling down through the costings. Finally there are a further 17% of “Presentation planners” who only feel secure when they have drawn up a formal, visually pleasing presentation before they start trading.

Phil Scholes, Head of npower Business said: "Our aim is to raise awareness of just how important having a proper business plan in place and working to it actually is. Clearly it has to be flexible, but there has to be some properly thought-through structure."