You may be starting the year with the intention of making great strides in achieving your business goals. A new year feels like a fresh start when it comes to updating your business plan. It can be a chance to leave behind what didn’t work for you in the past. You can also go after new opportunities you’ve been hoping to seize.
While you can update your business plan any time, a new year is a reminder to do so. Successful business owners recognize that business planning isn’t a once and done task. It is the continuous process of reviewing your business plan to make sure you are still on the right track. Tweaks and changes are made along the way. After implementing those changes, you re-evaluate to see how those changes impacted your business.
Each time you review your business plan, you learn what is working and what isn’t. Ask yourself what actions can improve your situation. How can you change what isn’t working, and do more of what is working?
Where to Begin
It can be overwhelming to know where to begin, so start with the major areas of your business. Finances, operations, and marketing. When reviewing your finances consider things like budget, pricing, and the costs of running your business. Also consider the amount of investment in business growth compared to how much you borrowed to do so.
Set Financial Goals in Your Business Plan
The New Year is a great time to set financial goals for the upcoming year. This could include revenue goals, but may also include financial goals you have for yourself and your team. If you still haven’t reached your ideal salary, consider how you could achieve it through better business planning. Perhaps you want to offer benefits such as increased vacation time, 401k plans, or health insurance to your team. Updating your business plan can help you do that.
Setting financial goals can be a catalyst for better pricing and improved profit margins. You want prices that cover the costs of running and growing your business. Profitability can also improve after re-evaluating your expenses. You might choose to stop spending on items you no longer need or investing in resources that don’t create a worthy ROI.
Part of setting financial goals also includes reviewing your capacity to work with clients. Working long hours or feeling overwhelmed may indicate you can no longer work with the same number of clients. Updating your financial business plan can help your business continue to thrive, even if you need to reduce your workload.
Suppose your financial goals haven’t changed much, reviewing and updating your business plan can help you stay on course. Take a look at your budget and planned expenses and see if they still align with your business needs. Analyze your prices and ensure they cover your costs, while still aligning with market value. Finally, creating sales projections for the upcoming year can also be an important part of updating your business plan.
Improve Operations in Your Business Plan
How you operate your business can impact both the business and you, the business owner. Operating inefficiently can lead to excessive costs, reduced productivity, and increased stress. When updating your business plan, consider how effective you are at delegating responsibilities and tasks, and how you prioritize them. Review the systems and procedures you have in place to manage your business. When operations need improving, it can affect your profitability and ability to grow.
You may be tempted to avoid delegating in an effort to reduce costs. However, this can sometimes come at a greater cost because of lost revenue opportunities. If you spend too much time on tasks that don’t generate revenue, you have less time available for the tasks that do. It can become a vicious cycle leading to greater time spent on non-income producing activities.
However, delegating isn’t always the answer. There will be times when you need to be the one working in your business. Sales may be low due to market conditions. You might lack the budget to delegate because you’re still in early growth mode. Your current team may not have the skills needed for certain tasks. All of these may require you to take on other roles in your business until the situation gets better.
Before delegating, understand all of the tasks and procedures that need to take place in your business. Look at how these tasks contribute to the health and functionality of your business. Decide which of these you need to do and which ones you should delegate to others.
It’s also important to prioritize these tasks, especially if you have a limited budget for delegating. For example, while you may want a new website, you may not need one just yet. However, if you struggle to get client work completed on time, hiring help may be necessary.
Review the roles and responsibilities of your team members, as well as your role as the company leader. How effective are communications among your team, and between you and your team? Have a clear protocol to follow if team members need help or want to move a project forward.
Have a plan for the upcoming year regarding staffing projects, we well as helping your team grow with the company. This might include planning raises and promotions, or even changing roles. Plan regular check-ins with your team to make sure things are going smoothly. Having team members who are happy and satisfied with their role is better for them, you, and your business.
Systems, Procedures & Processes
Review your overall systems, procedures and processes. Look for areas of improvement when making updates to your business plan. Redundancy, investing in software you don’t fully use, or failing to implement workflows are areas worth exploring. There may be processes you can automate, simplify, replace, or eliminate altogether.
Marketing Strategies in Your Business Plan
Marketing can be one of the more challenging aspects of business planning. Increased visibility, improved lead generation, and new sales may be a direct result of your marketing efforts. But factors outside your control can also impact business such as inflation, competition, or market trends. However with good planning and consistent monitoring, marketing strategies can yield positive results.
Review your marketing plan often. Determine which ones should continue, and which ones you may want to discontinue or change. Consider branding, target market, and your product or service offerings when reviewing your overall marketing plan.
Business Planning and Your Brand
As your business grows, your brand may grow as well. Sometimes it grows in unexpected ways and the brand you started out with no longer represents your business today. When updating your business plan consider whether or not it’s time to give your brand a refresh. This could be as simple as updating your colors, fonts, and design. It could also involve a full brand overhaul, including messaging, prices, and aligning with a new market.
Business Planning and Your Market
Review your market as part of the process to update your business plan. The market you originally intended to serve may no longer align with your current business or your future goals. Is your market a good fit or is it time to move toward a new market? Changes don’t need to be drastic, they may only require small changes, such as niching more within your current market.
Business Planning and Your Products or Services
Once you’re clear about the current state of your market, reevaluate your products and services. Ensure they still align with the needs of your market. Review what you sold in the prior year and note the most popular, and which ones hardly sold. Analyze the data to gain a better understanding of why certain products or services were more popular than others. This can help you decide if it’s time to retire some of those products or services.
Look at sales and how they impacted profitability and operations. Determine if your products or services were costly to make or too time consuming. If they didn’t generate enough profit, it may be time to make some changes or discontinue them altogether.
The reverse may also be true. Some products or services may have done so well you couldn’t keep up with demand. If so, consider offering more of them in the future. There could also be an opportunity to offer add-ons to those products or services, giving you an additional revenue stream or two.
Review Your Marketing Strategies
Aside from brand and product offerings, review your current marketing strategies from the past year and analyze the results. Look at what worked well, and what didn’t. Compare time spent and resources spent to the results of those efforts. Were there marketing strategies that increased lead generation or boosted sales? Did some efforts take a lot of time and money, but generate little business in return? An updated plan can help maximize ROI and remove the strategies that didn’t bring desired results.
Take Time to Update Your Business Plan
Take a day (or two) to work on your business plan at least once per year. Get support if you need it, whether from a trusted colleague, someone on your team, or a business advisor. Updating your business plan can help you gain a deeper understanding of your business. It can also guide you in making better decisions as you move your business forward.
Do you need help creating or updating your business plan? I can help! Schedule a complimentary discovery call with me.