If you haven’t taken a look at your business plan since the last Apocalypse, it’s time to blow off the cobwebs. So many business owners make the mistake of creating a business plan and letting it sit for years, untouched. But a business plan should be a living, breathing thing (unlike a zombie) that you review regularly and update when needed.
Is It Still Relevant?
Small businesses roll with the punches. That means your business strategy might have changed since you first recorded it, and the technology you use for marketing certainly has changed. If your business plan is too outdated, you might do better to just start from scratch. That will give you a clean slate to think about your company’s missions and business strategy, as well as how you can best reach your target market.
The fact that all of these components can change is the main reason why you should be reviewing your business plan regularly. Even if it’s only once a year or a quarter, frequent check-ins with your plan can ensure that you’re on the right page.
Don’t Get Bogged Down
If you’re one of those business owners who haven’t even written a business plan (yes, I’m talking to you), I’m willing to bet it’s because you assume a business plan has to be a major document. You know, the doorstop kind: three inches thick and 500 pages long. But it doesn’t. In fact, the briefer it is, the more likely you are to a) write it and b) follow it. Unless you plan to seek funding, a business plan can be as casual and as short as you want it. Its purpose is to help you stay on track to meet company goals.
Use the Tools Available
You can find ample business plan templates online, both free and for a fee. You can also look at examples of business plans, which can give you ideas about what to include in yours. There are also software programs like LivePlan that help you build and customize your business plan. With all of these tools easily accessible, there’s no excuse for not having a business plan and keeping it updated.
Tie in Action Items
A business plan by itself is like Halloween without the candy. It’s pretty much useless. Sure, you have these pretty goals, but how will you accomplish them? After you’ve created your plan, tie in action items, or tasks, that will move you toward achieving those goals. Then assign them to someone to ensure they get done. Hold that person responsible for completing the action item so that the goal is met. For example, if you want to increase sales by 20% this year, consider how you will get that done. Your action items might look like this:
- Have Steve join local small business group to network for prospects
- Assign Beth to step up Twitter activity 5 days a week
- Ask Todd to add 10 new coupon codes for site each month
You can track each of these items to see how well they moved you toward your goal. If they don’t work, scratch them next time and try something else.
Remember: your business plan is designed to help you, so get the most out of it by regularly reviewing it and assigning action items to goals.
Does your business plan inlcude how to structure your business entity and get your business legal? It should!!!! At CorpNet, we can help you determine the best business structure for your business, including whether you should incorporate or form an LLC. Contact us to get started.
Photo: Lawrence Rayner on Flickr