Applied Financial Planning

Strategic planning and middle-market businesses

BY  |  

This paper examines the relatively recent wave of business strategic planning triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and which could deliver favourable returns for many years, as businesses sought external advice and formalised planning-often for the first time.

It draws on Pitcher Partners' 2021 Business Radar Report: Understanding the businesses that drive Australia's economy. The report found that COVID-19 drove middle-market businesses (that is, those with annual revenue of between $2 million and $500 million) to expand the scope of their strategic planning, with the results linked to improved performance and confidence.

The report is based on a survey of more than 400 Australian middle-market businesses conducted with strategic growth consultancy Forethought.

In terms of respondents and the role of strategic planning, the report found that:

  • 44% said the pandemic had led them to make more frequent updates to their strategic plans
  • 40% increased the frequency of short-term planning
  • 37% increased the frequency of long-term planning
  • 28.5% were more willing to engage expert professional advice.
Macroeconomic shifts make their presence felt

The global pandemic encouraged businesses to reconsider the impact of macroenvironmental shifts on their performance. Upon the closing of borders and the consequential slowing of trade, many businesses were forced to re-evaluate their reliance on one export market or a supply chain focused on one destination, with it being more apparent than ever that this was no longer a viable option if they wanted to thrive in the future.

Prior to the pandemic, one in three businesses said they ignored macroenvironmental shifts in their planning processes although this has since fallen to one in five.

Now, a third of businesses said that they focused strongly on the potential impact of wider issues and megatrends, with 30% engaging expert advice to better prepare for possible macroeconomic shifts and ways that they can take advantage of new markets, and opportunities that arise as a result.