Hope is Not a Business Plan
By Jean Shea on Mar 29, 2011
Who doesn't want your business to grow? Even if things are going well, it's good business to do what it takes to make the next year even better. Complacency doesn't work well in the business world. As we've learned these past few years, a sudden downturn in the market might be just around the corner. It doesn't take much to be on top of the world one day and feel that it's crashing down around you the next.
So hope may spring eternal, but it won't eternally keep your business strong. What will is a solid business plan. Do you have one? How up to date is it? Even if your plan is as recent as last year, you want to review it to be sure your assumptions are still on target and the market is tracking to your expectations.
Revising and updating your business plans gives you a fresh perspective on your business. If you are seeking funding, most lenders or investors will require a plan. Even if you aren't planning to get outside financing, reviewing your plan helps you consider all aspects of your business and confront any problems you face.
Your business plan also makes you assess the competitive landscape and see how your service offering compares to others. You might decide to change your prices, add new service options, and boost your marketing.
How to Update your Business Plan
Start with Goals
Look at the list of goals that you set for your business. You may need to change them to reflect changing market conditions and your personal priorities.
Talk to customers to find out how they view your service.
Analyze the Competition
Find out what you can about the competition in terms of volume of business, services offered and marketing campaigns.
Assess Market Trends
Do research to find out what new services and treatments are creating a buzz and what products are in demand.
Assess all Operations
Look at your service hours, your procedures and processes. Analyze every aspect of how your business operates to decide what needs fine tuning. Also look at your team to see if you need to reassign responsibilities.
Crunch the Numbers
Consider your cash flow projections for the next year and costs.
Once you have this basic information, you can begin to make the necessary changes to your plan. Even after you rewrite your plan, you'll want to check it periodically to make sure everything is on track.