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10 Tips for Writing Grow with You Business Plans

Is Your Business Plan Sitting On The Shelf or a Guiding Document?

Many times, business documents get written and then sit on the shelf collecting dust until it’s time to revise them again. Maybe that sounds like you business plan.

BUT it doesn’t have to be that way.  With the end of the year rapidly approaching, maybe you are starting to put ‘updating the business plan’ on your radar.  Here are 10 tips for making your business plan functional and grow with your business this next year:

  1. Your Plan Should Guide You to Growing Your Business

Think of your business plan as a business guide for the next year.  No matter whether you have 5 year or 3 year financial projections, make sure you include incremental for goals, marketing and brand identity to  give you a strategic roadmap to get you where you want to be in that identified time frame.

  1. Review and Update Annually

Take a look at what has changed since your last plan. What goals did you meet?  What is your identity? Not only what public accolades, awards and recognition did you receive, but what are your employees saying about you?

You don’t have to survey them, but you can evaluate how they feel about working for you by their engagement level. How has the competitive landscape changed and how do you need to adapt to stand out? Need help with that?

Get our Engaging the Multi-Generational Workforce paper to learn more about employee engagement and what the ROI is for having an engaged workforce.

  1. Make Your Business Plan Flexible, Quick and Timely

Don’t make writing you business plan an painstaking, 6 month project to complete. In this fast-paced world time sensitive assumptions will be outdated before the plan is finished if you draw out the writing of it.

  1. Keep It Appropriately Sized For Your Business

Are you seeking outside investment?  Then in addition to goals, marketing and brand identity, you will need sections like market forecasts, and management team profiles to convince investors the market exists and you are capable.  These areas can also identify weaknesses to address.

Are you in a rapidly growing industry sector?  Then personnel, equipment and infrastructure needs and strategic focus sections should also be included. Only make the business plan as detailed as you need to guide your business for the timeframe you have identified in #1.

  1. Get Buy-In

To some, this might sound strange, but giving your management team the opportunity to help create the goals and strategies empowers them to go the extra mile to hit the mark. This helps improve employee engagement.  This also gives managers a specific roadmap, enabling them to become more effective.

  1. Include Metrics to Track Progress

Naturally, it starts with money metrics: sales, costs, expenses, profits, assets, liabilities, capital, interest and taxes.  What else do you want to track progress on?  Orders, deliveries, repeat customers or clients, complaints, employee turnover, web traffic? Think outside the box, and make your business plan work for you.

  1. Milestones

Answer these three questions: What do you want to do?  By when? Who is in charge of it? Think in terms of concrete, specific dates and deadlines.

  1. Financial Considerations

Include anything that has an expense or revenue attached to it. Some or all of these might apply to your situation: budgets, forecasts, what will it cost, how much will it bring in, equipment and infrastructure additions or upgrades (both future and immediate), personnel, membership fees, etc.

  1. Marketing Analysis, Research or Trends

Depending on how formal a business plan you need (meaning if you are seeking outside investments or lender) will determine you need to have an emphasis on special research and analysis. Possibly identifying industry, social and political trends that are driving your market is sufficient.

  1. Identify Gaps

No matter how simple or formal, a good business plan will likely identify gaps or weaknesses to reaching your goals. While it might seem disappointing at first, to not be able to write stellar sections that show you have it all together, you can look at it as a benefit.  Not being able to see your weaknesses is going to hold you back from reaching your goals. Knowing this, you can strategize how to solve the problem and close the gap.

Overwhelmed at the thought of updating your business plan?  Need help making your plan more of a guide?  Contact me for a free consultation and see if we are a good fit.




Adapted from Tim Berry’s The Plan-As-You-Go-Business Plan, 2008.



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