Business Plans: They're Not Just for Startups
CHICAGO (MainStreet) -- Now that school is back in session and the official farewells to summer have been said, it's time to get back to work. For many business owners, that means assessing the year so far and strategizing for the fourth quarter. It's also the perfect time to revisit a vital but often overlooked business-strategy tool: your business plan.
Business plans are usually thought of in the context of startups, when a clear, compelling plan is the key to attracting investors and getting a bank loan approved. But business plans often get left behind once a company is up and running, and that's a mistake.
|Even companies operating for years should be updating their business plans each year. If you're working on a plan with partners who live in different locations, there are cloud-computing solutions that allows collaboration.|
"Writing a business plan is like eating your broccoli," says Raj Tumber, a Las Vegas-based mentor and counselor with the nonprofit business-counseling association SCORE. "You might make a face, but it's really good for you."
An effective business plan provides a road map of where your company is going and how it will get there. Just as construction projects and bad weather can influence which route you take to work, changes in local demographics and the overall economy can quickly make a business plan obsolete. To make sure you're on track, Tumber recommends that his clients rewrite their business plans every six months or so."In today's economy, things can change in a few months," Tumber says. The numbers you optimistically crunched in better times may no longer reflect reality, which means your operations and marketing strategies must also change accordingly. "When revenue is not coming in, you have to change vendors or consolidate employees. You also need to revisit and reanalyze services that you outsource." Competitive analysis, a crucial element of new-business plans, is often forgotten once a company has been established. But the people you were competing against five or 10 years ago may no longer be your main competition (or may have grown to become an even greater threat). Once you've made a thorough evaluation of your company's position in the marketplace, you can shift your marketing strategy accordingly.
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