If your small business is showing the signs of long-term success, chances are good a solid plan was involved. But no company can afford to become complacent about its accomplishments. Your business is a dynamic entity, and your strategy must continually evolve to reflect that. So, when’s the last time you stopped to breathe new life into your business plan?
Your Business Plan – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Your business plan is – or should be - a living document. And because its main purpose is to keep your organization on track, course corrections can sometimes be necessary. In many cases, these directional adjustments will be minimal, but they do need to happen consistently. Making time to reevaluate your strategic plan on a regular basis will ensure it reflects your company’s changing circumstances and goals.
Refurbishing your business plan means taking an objective look at your organization from past, present, and future perspectives. You should make a habit of periodically reviewing:
- your organization’s original purpose,
- your current strengths, weaknesses, and resources, and
- your short-term and long-term objectives
Even if your goals haven’t changed all that much, you may discover your business is no longer in line to achieve them – or that it’s going to take longer than you thought.
Sorting out the specific actions that will realign your company’s operations with its objectives usually includes putting together a to-do list (complete with deadlines) for both yourself and your team. Figure out what’s taken your business off track, then take steps to monitor your progress in terms of any changes you implement.
Let’s take a look at the three main areas every business plan rejuvenation should address.
Where You’ve Been
The key to success for your small business revolves around building and controlling a competitive advantage. If your venture has been steadily gaining momentum in terms of customers and sales, you’re probably doing something better than everyone else. But it’s important to stay connected to the advantage you have so that your strategy can consistently make the most of it.
Revisit your company’s vision or mission statement from time to time. Does your original purpose for being in business still stand? Does it continue to reflect what’s been giving your company its edge in fulfilling your customers’ needs?
Make sure the competitive advantage your organization enjoys is in line with your business vision. Then let your mission statement be your guide when making operational and foundational decisions.
Where You Are
Taking a long, hard look at where your business is today should include:
- Assessing your financial and human resources
- Reviewing and updating customer profiles
- Performing a SWOT analysis
1. Time and money are two of your most important assets – and two of the biggest stumbling blocks to achieving your goals. Regularly reviewing employee roles and financial statements will make it easier to keep business plan timelines inside the confines of your budget.
2. Customers drive your sales. And to successfully meet and anticipate their changing needs, you’ve got to invest in knowing and growing along with them. Finding ways to stay in touch with your clients – and keeping their profiles as up-to-date and detailed as possible – will better connect your revenues to your financial goals.
3. Performing a quick SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis every time you tweak your business plan is a great way to keep a bead on reality! Remember, the only way to effectively gauge and respond to potential prospects and risks is by taking regular inventory of what your company does well and where it needs to improve.
Where You’re Going
When you picture your business in terms of market position, customer focus, and growth-promoting activities five to ten years down the road, what do you see? You must be able to visualize where you want your business to go before you can develop – and modify - the strategy needed to take you there.
Vision leads to goals, and goals lead to action. Which is why reviewing your vision statement, performing a SWOT analysis, and putting together a plan that addresses any discrepancies is key in course-correcting your way to your objectives.
Whether short-term or long-term, your business goals should be:
- physically set down on paper,
- grouped into collections of smaller objectives, and
- approached as a series of clear, achievable, and measurable time-lined steps
While constantly changing your goals is a recipe for disruption, regularly reviewing and amending them appropriately is essential for breathing new life into your business plan. Make this strategy a habit, and your company will be far better positioned to adapt to the ever-changing commercial landscape.
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