Short-term planning threatens entrepreneurial growth and innovation

A new report which looks at barriers to growth for the UK’s entrepreneurial businesses has revealed 70% of companies are only planning nine months ahead, despite ambitions to launch new products and services and three quarters lacking confidence that their strategy is future-proof.

According to BDO’s The Ambitious Entrepreneur: Tackling Your Barriers to Growth Report, two fifths of the companies surveyed are only planning six months ahead, which means they only have visibility until March next year.

More than three quarters of companies shared they’re likely – to some degree – to test out new business ideas or innovate this year and next, but 21% recognise a lack of planning will prohibit this innovation.

Mark Sykes, Head of Entrepreneurial Business, BDO LLP said: “Ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses underpin all sectors and regions of the UK and will be key to the UK’s future economic prosperity. It’s concerning but not surprising to see so many struggling to strategically plan more than six months in advance.

“The last 20 months have demonstrated that plans need to be flexible. For this type of business, it is often their agility which gives them a competitive advantage. However, creativity alone won’t sustain innovation and there needs to be a firm focus on planning and commercialising ideas if businesses are serious about growth and not losing ground to competitors.”

BDO’s research found that a third of respondents try to handle operations, growth, funding, talent and compliance internally with their existing team.

Mark Sykes concluded: “When speaking to these businesses, the ambition and talent is clear. These dynamic businesses already face disproportionate challenges when it comes to issues like funding, talent and navigating red tape, but are consistently creative in overcoming these barriers. We’re already seeing businesses work hard to attract and retain talent to support their growth against a challenging backdrop. Taking a long-term view rather than reactive hiring will support future growth and ensure a business is truly scaleable.

“I’d urge entrepreneurial businesses not to get in the way of their own potential by taking a short-term or inward view and seek the support they need to build a longer-term strategy that will allow them innovate and to maintain a competitive advantage.”