Experts agree that regular business plan reviews are essential once your small business is up and running. It’s always helpful to revisit and revise your projections, and make sure the factors behind them remain accurate.
But as your business evolves, there are sure to be more influences on what you do and the customers you serve, as well as a new set of unknowns surrounding the directions in which you want to expand. Merely assuming things will work out or taking a haphazard approach is even riskier now than when you started out because you have much more invested in the business.
That’s why it’s helpful to regularly engage in some strategic planning for your small business and define near- and long-term objectives, the strategy and tactics by which you’ll pursue them, and metrics for gauging your progress. The result, known as a growth plan, will provide a better roadmap for tackling the future, and better position you for new opportunities.
Start by comparing the current status of your business with your original intent. Are you where you intended to be, or have you modified your mission? What are current strengths, and what areas could be improved upon? Any glaring problems or shortcomings should be addressed as quickly as possible.
Also take a comprehensive look at the state of your market, and what is shaping it. Your original expectations may be on target, or there may be emerging trends that will radically alter your industry. Needs and issues facing your existing and target customers should also be examined.
With that information in hand, project three or five years out, and set objectives that will keep your small business in step with these trends. What resources will be needed, and where can they be found (e.g., new staff, training, upgraded equipment and facilities)? What costs are involved, and what kind of learning curve may be required? Develop an action plan for each one with milestones as appropriate.
Regularly review your growth plan to assess your progress. It, like your business plan, is a guide that can be adapted as conditions change. You may find yourself ahead of schedule, or dealing with unforeseen factors that require a schedule revision or complete overhaul. But your small business can only benefit, as there’s no such thing as too much planning.
For more help with strategic planning or a business plan for your small business, contact Raleigh SCORE. We provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners. To schedule a free appointment with our experienced counselors, go to http://raleigh.score.org, or call us at 919-856-4739.