10 Planning Tips to Take Your Business to the Next Level
When you started your small business, you probably created a business plan. But have you ever drawn up a plan to take your small enterprise to the next level?
Without a growth plan, your business may limp along at the same pace forever. Or you may get lucky and experience unplanned growth. But uncontrolled growth can cause severe problems for a business too.
The best way to expand your small business sustainably is to write a business plan for growth. Here are ten tips to get you started with the business plan to take your company to the next level.
1. Make the Time to Plan
The first challenge you will face is finding the time to plan for the future of your business. You will probably need to set aside several days for the planning exercise. And you must focus your mind on the task. So, block out several days in your diary for business planning and remove yourself from the day-to-day distractions. You might find it useful to relocate from your usual workplace while you draft your new business plan.
2. Review Progress Against Your Initial Plan
Before you begin to think about where you want to go, you will need to look at where you have been. So, an excellent place to start the planning process is to revisit your last business plan. Look at how well you achieved the goals set out in your initial plan. Consider how accurate your forecasts were and what elements of your business plan did not go as expected. Reviewing your progress to date will highlight what failed to come to fruition as well as the unexpected positive outcomes that you had not previously considered.
3. Understand Where Your Business is at Right Now
It is crucial to understand what stage your business has reached before you begin to plan for growth. Are you still in the early growth stage, or have you achieved a level of sustainable income? Do you have spare capacity, or have you yet to employ all your available resources fully? Understanding where your business is now will help you determine if you need to improve on what you have been doing or expand into new areas.
4. Analyze the Numbers
Unlike when you created your initial business plan, you will now have some historical data that you can use to forecast future results. You will know what your gross margins and overheads are. You will be able to quantify the effect of specific marketing campaigns. The historical numbers in your accounts will allow you to create a spreadsheet model of your business. You can then use that model to assess the impact of the ideas that you formulate in your plan. For example, you can use your model to forecast the sales volume increase needed to achieve a given growth in profit. Or you could see how much revenue you would need to generate to cover the cost of new equipment.
5. Set Your Goals
Using your business's current performance as a baseline, you can now set your goals for the future.Your goals are likely to consist of targets for both the next twelve months and longer-term objectives. Start with your high-level targets, like increasing turnover by 50% or branching out into a new market. After you have set your goals, you can begin to plan how you will achieve those targets.
6. Focus on the Big Picture
Your business plan for growth is only an outline of what you want to achieve. So, try not to get too tied up in detail. You might plan on making better use of Facebook advertising in the coming twelve months, for example. But now is not the time to be writing your Facebook ad copy. If you get too bogged down in detail, your revised business plan will take too long to complete, and then the pressures of work may lead to you abandoning your planning efforts.
7. Set Realistic Targets
It is advisable to be realistic about that level and timing of your business's growth. It would be best to include milestones and deadlines in your plan. Still, it would also be advisable to allow for contingencies. A look back at what has happened in the past will help you forecast the time lag between taking specific actions and seeing results. And you will need to allow for the constraints on your own time. If you don't set a timetable for your expansion plans, though, you may never get around to completing the tasks you have set yourself.
8. Involve the Team
As a business owner, you can set high-level targets, but it would be best to involve your team in the detailed planning stage. You might want to see an increase in sales volumes, for example, but it will be your sales and marketing team that must achieve that increase. If you involve employees in the planning exercise, you will get better buy-in from your staff, and your team might have some great ideas on how to achieve growth or efficiencies that you had not considered.
9. Quantify Targets
Your overall target might be to double sales in the next twelve months. However, to achieve that goal, you might need to spend more on marketing, increase production capacity, and introduce new products. The elements that will lead to a growth in sales will need to be quantified so that you and your team can be set achievable targets.Quantifying a timeline and monetary goals will also give you something to measure your progress. If you have a team working for you, each department or team member will also need to be set performance targets.
10. Planning is an On-going Process
A business plan is not something that you finish and leave to gather dust on a shelf. A business plan is a document that will evolve as circumstances change. You might find that a marketing campaign did not yield the results you were expecting, for example. Anew competitor might enter the market. When events occur that affect your forecast, you don't need to discard the entire growth plan. But you may need to modify your plan from time to time to keep the expansion of your business on track.
To sum up, writing a business plan is not a one-off exercise. It would be better to view a business plan as an on-going, working document that will need a significant overhaul at least once a year. You can then set your headline targets for the coming twelve months and communicate those goals to your team. Follow that up by monitoring the results against the plan. And then, you can adjust your business plan as needed to keep your business growth on track.
About CFO Masters
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