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The Planning Process

Small business owners that create a business plan spend a significant amount of time putting together a plan to achieve their goals. For a while the investment in the business plan drives business owners to ensure progress is made. However, as the day-to-day running of the business starts to become more demanding time can fly by before that business plan is picked up again... if it is ever picked up again.

So much can happen in such a short space of time and the days become weeks, weeks become months and months become years. There are new products, priorities have changed, there are new team members and key customers have changed. Suddenly the business has changed course and your business plan doesn't reflect the new direction.... and your business strategy becomes blurred

An effective business strategy requires a vision with long-ranging goals supported by a live business plan. The business plan should have clear metrics and milestones to ensure your business performs in line with expectations.

The business plan should allow business owners to have a reference point before decisions are made and question the direction to take at the time rather than after the fact.

So, how do you keep your business plan from becoming outdated?

The planning cycle is a key process to ensure you reach your business goals and keep your business plan as a living document.

This 4-step planning cycle should be used to help create your business plan and to keep it updated as a live document:

  1. Research & Feedback - understand the market, your customers & your team

  2. Reflection & Direction - look at what has worked and hasn't to help provide clarity for the future

  3. Planning & Defining - create clear plans, goals, actions, ownership and metrics to set direction and metrics to define success

  4. Learnings & Results - understand how actions have had a positive and/or negative impact as they have been implemented and regularly review performance and results so changes can be made

Once created, your business plan should be reviewed, and this planning process adopted at least once a year. However, best practice is to review and update your business plan once every quarter with larger more strategic adjustments made annually.

Regularly taking time to go through this planning process will help to ensure you reach your goals. You can formally identify if you are on track, make adjustments if there are short term requirements or even if adjust long term goals if circumstances (like new technologies or legislation) significantly change.

This living document will not only support small business owners on the way to achieving their personal and business goals it can also be used to break down the larger targets and goals to provide the team with their own goals, metrics and KPI's, or used as a tool to direct team meetings ensuring everyone is pulling in the same direction. Setting goals is great but they need to be supported with a realistic plan to achieve success and underpinned with a process to keep consistently delivering improvement and results.

So, where is your business plan? When was it last reviewed and updated? Do you have a robust planning process? For more support with your business plan contact Sian.


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