Expert opinion

Delivering in-flight corrections – why all your plans need a regular review

Myles Hamilton, Director - M&A at Shaw & Co, shares his advice on the importance of making in-flight changes to a business exit plan.

3 minutes
September 12, 2022
Words:
Myles Hamilton
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”The first casualty of war is always the plan.”
Cory Doctorow

As the old saying goes ”The first casualty of war is always the plan.” Thankfully, the world of business is somewhat less dramatic, but the same can be true for any business plan or exit strategy. A carefully crafted plan or strategy might capture the right course of action at the time of sign off, but internal and external factors change – and you need to adapt and react quickly.

A more fitting analogy that we use with clients is the idea of ‘in-flight corrections’. Imagine setting off on a flight. You have taken off, set the aeroplane's on the right heading; so can you lock off the controls and expect to arrive at your destination? No, of course you can’t. There will be winds and turbulence, weight may shift as the plane’s fuel is burnt off and passengers move around, all of which you will need to make corrections for if you are to make it safely to your destination.

You should think about your business plans and exit strategy in the same way. The ultimate destination or goal may remain the same, however the actions (or inputs) you need to undertake to get there will be constantly changing.

Myles Hamilton

Any business plan or exit strategy will benefit from a quarterly, or at the very least a bi-annual, review. Reviews need to be carefully managed to ensure they don’t fall foul of the ‘next bright idea’ - an absolute favourite of the entrepreneurially-minded owner and the nightmare of all management teams. This is not an occasion to make change for the sake of change and, after careful consideration, changing nothing could actually be the right and valid outcome. Consistency and familiarity have value, especially when you are trying to get a large number of people (ie your stakeholders) to buy into, and ultimately deliver, your vision.

However, every business owner also needs to be open to the idea that the plan could indeed be a casualty. Never be too blinkered to accept that either the plan was wrong in the first place, or the environment around you has changed in such a way that it is no longer viable. At that point you are going well beyond ‘in-flight corrections’ and will therefore need to adopt a significantly different approach to re-planning.

If you'd like to discuss how Shaw & Co can help you sell, buy or fund the growth of a business, please book a meeting here

Words:
Myles Hamilton
 - 
Director
Read 
Myles Hamilton
's bio

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