Using your business plan to get ahead
I mentioned earlier in this article that businesses that write business plans grow 30 percent faster than businesses that don’t plan. Taking the simple step forward to do any planning at all will certainly put your business at a significant advantage over businesses that just drive forward with no specific plans.
But just writing a business plan does not guarantee your success.
The best way to extract value from your business plan is to use it as an ongoing management tool. To do this, your business plan must be constantly revisited and revised to reflect current conditions and the new information that you’ve collected as you run your business.
When you’re running a business, you are learning new things every day: what your customers like, what they don’t like, which marketing tactics work, which ones don’t. Your business plan should be a reflection of those learnings to guide your future strategy.
This all sounds like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be.
Tips to extract the most value from your plan in the least amount of time
- Use your one-page business plan to quickly outline your strategy. Use this document to periodically review your high-level strategy. Are you still solving the same problem for your customers? Has your target market changed?
- Use a Lean Plan to document processes that work. Share this document with new employees to give them a clear picture of your overall strategy.
- Set milestones for what you plan to accomplish in the next 30 days. Assign these tasks to team members, set dates, and allocate part of your budget if necessary.
- Keep your sales forecast and expense budget current. As you learn more about customer buying patterns, revise your forecast.
- Compare your planned budgets and forecasts with your actual results at least monthly. Make adjustments to your plan based on the results.
- The final, most important aspect of leveraging your business plan as a growth engine is to schedule a monthly review. The review doesn’t have to take longer than an hour, but it needs to be a regular recurring meeting on your calendar. In your monthly review, go over your key numbers compared to your plan, review the milestones you planned to accomplish, set new milestones, and do a quick review of your overall strategy.
It’s easier than it sounds and can put you in that “30 percent growth” club faster than you think.