Why is business planning so hard?

Most business experts will tell you the best way to grow your business is to have a strategic plan and deliver to it. No surprises to know they are right.

Unfortunately, while it is an easy concept, developing a plan and sticking to it is challenging. So why is it so hard?

Business skills

Generally, in small to medium enterprises the expertise required to run a business are not innately known. To bring together functions such as finance, sales, marketing, human resources, IT to get them working together is a skill. There will be knowledge gaps. Then to have them focus on a common and understood plan is skill set in itself. It is different from working in the business. The old saying of working on the business not in it – underpins the premise that the skills needed to work ‘on’ and ‘in’ are two different things.

Plan structure

Additionally, business owners need to know how to structure a plan in a way they understand, and the team can consume. The internet can help with a multitude of business plan templates. Search ‘business plan template’ and then settle on one that works for you. Make sure you go for simplicity, as complex plans will not be easily completed, communicated or followed.


Of course, populating the plan can be difficult. Facilitating the discussion and knowing how to direct conversations can be hard when you are also trying to add value. This is particularly so if you are the owner, founder or CEO. Your team may not fully engage and could agree to everything you say, which is a whole other issue. None the less, trying to facilitate, add value and seek input from other can affect the outcome of planning.


Coupled with facilitation is making the time to do the work. It’s not easy to set aside time to look at the future while dealing with the present. There may be a reluctance in allocating time to something where you don’t fully know the outcome. You may not be able to even commit to the outcome if you don’t have a cycle of accountability and cadence.


Then there is the engagement across the team to input and own the plan for delivery. This can be hard. If the process is not structured correctly or the communication of the plan is not done well (or regularly).


Finally, there is the execution of the plan. There are some great mission statements, visions, goals, agendas, whatever you want to call them plastered over websites, walls or sales material. The discipline to execute is hard. Holding people to account can be problematic and it is all too easy to avoid things because it is tough to keep going.  Execution is crucial. Remember it is more important to be consistent than motivated. When you don’t feel like following the plan, you need to push past that to get where you want to be.

Insights in conclusion

In summary, when you combine:

  • learning new skills
  • using an appropriate plan structure
  • facilitating good discussions
  • allocating time
  • engaging the team
  • executing with regular cadence

It is no wonder that it is hard to develop a great strategic plan for a business.  With that question answered, consider this:

What are you prepared to do to get the business you want?