2017 beckons – time to update your business plan?

16th November 2016

business plan image

As another year winds down, it’s a good time to reflect on your recent business successes – and consider what you’d like to achieve in the coming twelve to fifteen months. Time to revisit that business plan…

These tips can help you with the process of making plans to help guide your business to greater success.

Set priorities

Entrepreneurs are typically highly creative and optimistic; as a result, they often have difficulty narrowing down their ideas from among all the exciting possibilities, whether it’s an opportunity to expand to a new market or choosing a better time management strategy.

As you update your business plan, focus on what’s most important for your business to achieve this year. Then break your goals down into smaller tasks, to maximize productivity and enjoy the little successes that lead to big changes.

Start by defining your top three business goals for the next four quarters. With those in mind, do some research to help you decide on the best way to achieve those three goals – and a reasonable timeline for meeting specific targets.

Think differently

Your priorities in the coming year may be to hit a certain revenue target, launch a new product line or tap a completely new market.

An important thing to keep in mind as you make plans to move your business forward is how you’ll stay competitive. For instance, it’s important to review your pricing strategy on an annual basis, to ensure you continue to attract new prospects and retain customers.

But it’s not just about price – what exactly are your offering? How does it differ from everything else out there?  People will be prepared to pay extra for better service and product.  Make sure you stand out, and you’re clear about who you are and what you’ll do for them.

Find money

If scaling your business is on your agenda for the year ahead, and you don’t have savings earmarked to fund your ideas, you’ll want to make sure your business plan includes adequate financial planning.

Applying to a lender for a business loan is one option. In this case, you’ll want to include up to date cash flow reports, income statements, budgets and projections in your plan for a potential lender.

If your business doesn’t have a credit history, you may need to look at other options for financing your plans. Using a business credit card on a regular basis and paying off the balance can help you build a good credit rating, which will help you prepare to apply for a loan down the road.

Your accountant can also help provide additional financial advice and support as you update your business plan, based on your most current financial records.  Banks often want up-to-date management accounts to assess any borrowing requirements.  This is so much easier if you’ve got a software package like Xero in place.

With these business planning tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared for a new year of growth and continued success.

Final tips

  • Review your business plan every quarter to ensure you stay on track with your goals and priorities throughout the year.  There’s no point achieving a target, only to find that it wasn’t really where you wanted to get to after all.
  • Be realistic about opportunities and challenges as you plan ahead. Your accountant can offer business advisory services – and help you set meaningful short and long term goals. Find someone you can talk to.
  • As alternatives to applying for a loan or line of credit, consider crowdfunding or angel investing to help you meet your business goals. Or – a great strategy – economise now and take less from your business, to grow it and reap the rewards later. Unfashionable, but no less true for it.