Business planning for the new year

With 2015 around the corner, now is a good time to think about your goals and aspirations for your small business.  Business planning for the new year will get your small business off to a flying start and now is an excellent time to update your business plan. 1 in 3 small businesses fail in the first 3 years, usually due to lack of planning and poor cashflow.

 

What is a business plan

In a nutshell: A business plan describes your business, where it currently is, where you want it to go and how you are going to get there. Whilst many business owners have a vague plan in their head, having a written document gives you something to refer to and compare to.

Why have a business plan

A business plan isn’t just for securing funds. Lenders will require a detailed business plan but you can use a much less detailed one in your business to guide your planning and support growth.

A business plan can help you to :

  • Set your business goals
  • Identify potential pitfalls that may affect your business
  • Enable you to track your progress
  • Structure the financial elements of your business
  • Raise finance

 How often should you update it

A business plan should be consulted and reviewed on a regular basis. Every business will be different and the regularity required will vary. In a volatile or fast changing market, reviews will be needed more regularly than for a business in a slow changing environment. Updating the business plan should be made when there is a significant change in circumstances or direction that impacts your business. A new financial or calendar year are both good times to review the direction of your business.

 What to include in a business plan

Your business plan should include why you are running your business and how you will be running it, focusing on:

  • Your vision
  • Your USP
  • Your products or services
  • Financial forecasts
  • Market research and marketing
  • Staffing
  • Location
  • Competitors
  • How you will measure progress
  • Exit strategy

It is important to be clear, concise and most importantly realistic. But also focus on who your audience  is going to be. If the business plan is for internal use only, don’t spend hours making it look professional. The content is important but you don’t need a fancy plan.

 

Good luck and let me know how you get on with your goals for 2015.