Why Do Owner-Managed Businesses Fail to Plan?

Lack of planning causes a variety of problems for owner-managed businesses. Business owners manage from bank account balances and then wonder why they have cash flow problems. Owners jump into a project, forgetting about marketing for the time being, and then wonder what happened to sales when the project completes. Owners initiate the business by wearing all hats, causing the business to succeed with hard work and a variety of talents, do not delegate and train, and then wonder why they have no time and their business has no value without their participation. These are just of few examples of many well-recognized problems resulting from the failure to plan.

The number of owner-managed businesses in this country and the difficulty of these businesses sustaining a long-term existence indicate the need for strategic planning to be utilized by these businesses. Businesses that engage in strategic planning have a much better success rate – both for the current owners and for the heirs of those owners.

So if the need and benefit are so clear, what is it about strategic planning that makes it so difficult for the owner-manager to practice? There are a number of suspects: the failure to prioritize and schedule time for planning, the inability to poll and communicate with the business group (owners, managers, and employees) to produce a wise plan, the fear of losing control (perhaps the most prevalent reason owner-managers do not train and delegate), and the managerial skill to execute the plan through effective monitoring and employee review. These and other critical issues can be addressed to make the valuable strategic planning process accessible and of use to owner-managed businesses.

It happens one owner at a time. You know the owner is getting it when the owner responds to a crisis by saying: “I need to review the plan to see why we did not anticipate this and then revise the plan” instead of saying “I am the only one who can save this situation, and I need to get to work.”

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