In just a few short weeks you will likely join the scores of people counting down the seconds in anticipation of 2015. But are you really ready for the start of another new year? Is your business? December, also known as National Write a Business Plan Month, is the perfect time to reassess your business strategy and ensure that when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, you are ready.
It doesn’t matter if the last time you worked on your business plan was 12 months ago or 12 years ago. If you want to put your business in a great position, pull out your current business plan, take a seat and get to work. Use these nine tips to rework your existing business plan and strategically maneuver through the upcoming year.
1. Time for Reflection
This is the time of year for reflection anyway, so you may as well start your business plan revision by thinking about the past year’s highs and lows. What worked well? What could you do without? What would you like to see happen again? These are all great questions that will help lay the foundation for 2015.
2. Get Focused
After reflecting on what the last 365 days taught you about your business, put together a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to help you focus on where your business really shines while identifying the greatest opportunities for growth.
3. Forecast Your Sales
The meteorologist’s forecast indicates snow is in our future, hopefully yours will indicate growth. Find out what you can expect by conducting a sales forecast to help you visualize where your business is today and what you can expect over the course of the next year. Will supply go up? Will your costs change? How does your revenue per unit/sale outlook look? If you take a moment to look at the bigger picture, you are in a better position to adapt accordingly. Think about your goals and then identify what you need to change about your current business model to meet them.
4. Be A Good Listener
Listening to what your customers and clients are saying about your brand is critical to planning ahead. As your customers’ interests and needs change, so should your services and products. While you are mapping out your business plan, address how your business will listen to, and engage with, this audience and how you will address any concerns or changes that may arise.
5. Look Before You Leap
So you have a great idea for a new product that will revolutionize the world forever? Are you sure? Before you bring any new product or service to market, make sure to spend a little time answering a few questions first.
- Does this product or service address your customers current needs?
- Will the product or service make your customers lives easier?
- Would your customers like any changes to be made to the product or service before it goes to market?
- Is your product or service capable of becoming a sustainable source of revenue?
- Are you positioned for the growth of the product or service?
- Is your supply chain ready for a significant increase in production?
- Will you be able to cost effectively deliver the product or service?
6. Go Simple Or Go Home
A business plan is a critical component of your business. When it’s completed, it doesn’t need to resemble a grand piece of literature. In fact, a plan that is too big and provides too much detail tends to be too cumbersome and benefits nobody. Use bullet points, simple explanations and reasonable objectives to get your point across, which will help streamline your efforts over the next year.
7. Set Goals
After you establish a general overview of your business, set your goals for 2015 and establish reasonable deadlines for completing them. Be sure to identify each step you will need to complete along the way and always make sure your goals are in line with your overall business objectives.
8. Tax Planning
Be prepared for any small business tax changes that may occur over the next year. Set up a time to meet with your tax advisor to plan for the upcoming tax season, as well as develop a strategy to minimize your tax costs throughout the year.
You may find it helpful to set aside at least an hour every quarter to reevaluate and adjust your business plan. Your ability to adapt to changes in the marketplace and address issues as they arise strengthens your business will set you apart from your competition. Additionally, you may find it beneficial to establish a standing meeting with your trusted business/financial advisor.
Email Rea & Associates to get more information about how you take control of your business’s success in 2015.