Business plans are among the most critical factors for new entrepreneurs and established CEO’s alike. To the former, a solid business plan can be the key to vital initial investments; to the latter, they are the guiding line for analysis of where you’ve been and where you’re headed.
So, who needs a strong business plan? Everyone.
While business plans can be as varied and unique as the ventures behind them, there are in fact some key factors that most will share:
- Overall financial review for the year.
- Projections for finances for the following year.
- Overarching goals for the year, perhaps broken down by quarterly reviews.
- Issues that need addressing, down from the immediate to the less urgent.
- What factors have most hindered success?
- What factors have most benefited success?
Building around these questions, your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) plan will begin to take shape.
The essential takeaway thus far is this: your business plan is a living document and should be utilized to the fullest extent. Take care of it and it will, in turn, help you to take care of your business.
Basics are relatively straightforward, but you want to do better. Maximize potential and earnings! Here are some of the best practices from the well-traveled:
Engage your resources – Meet up with Better Business Bureaus, your local Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, what have you. The point here is to identify what resources (however tangentially aligned with your venture) and not be shy in reaching out to them. Who knows what connections and opportunities (for growth, or knowledge) may result? The only sure way to go nowhere is to do nothing.
Research, research, research – It takes dedication and hard work to stay in the game, but true success comes from adaptability. You can’t prepare for trends and market predictions if you never see them coming. Therefore, be proactive – aggressively search out and review the latest in trend reporting and competitive data relevant to your market. Get hard numbers for your primary competitor’s price points (ghost calling never hurt anyone). And then collate all this data for further use and later review – this builds your sales collateral.
Tomorrow is always the most nebulous aspect of any business considerations, simply by virtue of the present unknown.
The question in play is one of two considerations: what can you account for? Can you account for upcoming trends, market shifts, and innovative advances in technology? Perhaps, to an extent, you can. For practical purposes, however, we are going to focus here on the items under your direct control. These items can then be funneled back around toward constructing your forward-looking plans. For instance:
- Refining your marketing strategy – what worked best? SEO, paid search, social media, something else?
- Examine your team – do you have the talent on staff that you really need?
- Examine your business culture – are you fostering an environment that will produce traditional, predictable returns? Or are you creating an environment that allows for innovative ideas and creativity?
In all, there are endless examples and strategies you can utilize to further your enterprise. The real point is that you’re moving forward intentionally and intelligently.
At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.