By Daniel Hunter

Half of business owners believe preparing a long-term business plan is a waste of time, according to a recent poll conducted by Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers.

However, one in five companies taking part in the survey said they had prepared a five year plan, including an exit strategy, while the same number had a three year plan in place.

The online poll also revealed that 13 per cent of owner managers had a business plan that was limited to 12 months or less because it was difficult to forecast over a longer period.

Stephen Gregson, corporate finance director at Moore and Smalley, believes the poll’s findings have worrying implications for businesses, though he said it was encouraging that some businesses are planning for the longer term.

He said: “A clear strategy detailing what you're going to do and when is essential to any successful business. It’s the route map showing how you will take your business from where you are now, to where you want to be in three to five years’ time.

“Of course, markets are changing all the time and a business plan needs to be flexible enough to enable a business to respond to those changes. However, without strategic objectives, business owners are at risk of getting sucked into day-to-day issues because they lack the forward vision to plan their activities and delegate effectively.”

According to Stephen, a strong business plan is also a key to unlock business funding as investors will be impressed by a plan that gives evidence-backed information on how an entrepreneur intends to develop their business, the track record of the management team, and how they will handle financial management.

He added: “While there are many critics of the business plan, just the act alone of putting one together will benefit your business because it means taking a good, hard look at your activities, market position and relationships with customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders.”

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