Many business owners (if not all) think of business plans as something you do when you start a company, apply for loan or find investors. However, there is more to it – a blueprint of all important aspects of your business. There are always new strategies that can help your success rate in the marketplace. Therefore, it needs to be revised and updated accordingly. Here are some suggestions to enhance your business plan – from good to SupaAwesome.
Assess Your Business Plan
Before you make changes to your business, it is important that you reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments and failures.
You can use the SWOT analysis method to understand what is happening within your business. It will help you develop business strategies by building on strengths (S), minimising weaknesses (W), seizing opportunities (O) and counteracting threats (T).
According to Barb Girson, registered Corporate Coach and CEO of My Sales Tactics, you can also assess your business by asking yourself these three “big picture” questions:
- What tactics and business strategies worked to increase revenue and overall business?
- What initiatives were not successful in producing a return on investment?
- What is my business vision for the coming year?
Keep Up With The Trend and Market
Now that your business has been up and running, you have the insights to evaluate the market that you’re tapping into. This information will let you know whether you are meeting your customers’ needs and expectations. Additionally, you can also learn if there is a need to change your package design, tweak your delivery methods or even consider offering additional services.
Types of Market Research
Primary Research: The idea is to gather data from analysing current sales and the performance of current practices. These include: interviews (either by telephone or face-to-face), surveys/questionnaires (online or by mail) or focus groups by gathering a sampling of potential clients or customers; and getting their direct feedback.
Do ask the right questions to the right people so you’ll get good insights. For example: “What factors do you consider when purchasing this product or service?” or “What areas would you suggest for improvement?”.
Secondary Research: This is to analyse data that has already been published. It will help you identify competitors, establish benchmarks and identify target segments or people who fall into your targeted demographic.
Include Plan of Execution
Simply setting goals does not guarantee that you will follow through. Plan necessary steps to achieve those goals and make sure to review them later, so you stay on track.
Quoting “The Wizard of Menlo Park”, or better known as Thomas A. Edison, “vision without execution is hallucination.”
Steps To Writing an Action Plan
- Define each of your main business goals in a list. Then prioritise them according to their importance or urgency. Make sure they relate to anything that will help promote and grow your business i.e. establishing a marketing plan or recruiting new employees.
- Under each goal in the list, give specific actions required to accomplish that goal and who’ll be in charge of it. Don’t forget to include the meeting minute details.
- Set a realistic and achievable start date and deadline next to each action step on your plan.
- Lastly, list the expenses needed for each action. Total up the budget at the end of each goal. This will allow you to keep an eye on your budget, as you complete each project.
Take Time To Reflect
After a while, it’s good to reflect back, understand and recognise why you may have failed or succeeded in accomplishing your goals. The insights you gain are invaluable. You can gather your data by doing the aforementioned SWOT analysis and resetting your plan if needed be to improve the outcome.
As American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, John Dewey, said: “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
All in all, a business plan should be a living document that you use and refer to throughout the year. With these suggestions in mind, we hope that they help you improve your business plan, as well as develop your business and scale accordingly.