It’s a new year and a new decade, so what better time to refresh your business plan?
A business plan is a strategic document that describes your business, where it fits within a particular industry, and your goals for the future. A business plan helps you to think clearly about your business and where it is going, and so it’s very important that you update yours regularly.
Of course, strategy can easily fall by the wayside when you’re dealing with the day-to-day running of your business, but the mental reset of a new year is a great excuse to dig out your business plan and make sure it’s up to date. Not sure where to start? Here are three key ways you can refresh your business plan for the year ahead.
1. Check your goals
When you originally wrote your business plan, you should have set yourself goals. It’s time to consider whether you’ve achieved each one, and decide what to do next based on your answer:
- Yes, I achieved it: Well done! Take it off your business plan and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Then consider whether achieving this goal has opened up new opportunities and write a new goal that will keep you moving forward.
- No, but I still want to achieve it: Don’t be discouraged – keep this goal on your business plan. Take stock of any progress you have made towards it, and any obstacles that have stood in your way. What can you do differently from now on to bring you closer to achieving this goal?
- No, and it’s no longer relevant: It’s OK that things have changed. Think about why you no longer want to achieve this goal, then take it off your business plan and write a new goal instead.
2. Review the market
A big part of a business plan is to analyse the market for opportunities, threats, competitors and collaborators – but the market is always changing, and so your plan should too. First, look back over the last year. Were there any opportunities you missed or trends you didn’t capitalise on? Is your target customer still the same or are you targeting a new audience? Have competitors emerged or disappeared, and are there new technologies that could be useful to you? Once you’ve reconsidered where your business fits in the wider landscape, look to the future and refresh your business plan based on the new information you have gathered.
3. Ask for feedback
Nobody can run a business alone, so don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. It’s a great idea to routinely survey your customers to find out what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what you can do to better meet their needs. You could also ask your employees for anonymous feedback – they will have an inside view of your business and may be able to offer fresh ideas that you couldn’t have come up with on your own. This feedback can then inform your business plan, making it more accurate and thus more useful for the year ahead.
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