Business plans aren't just for showing to potential investors. They're a vital tool for organising and structuring business, keeping track of progress and planning your future. Here are the key things to keep in mind when it comes to your business plan.
Update your business plan regularly. This allows you to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. It'll keep targets realistic - you can adjust forecasts according to the here and now. It'll also help keep your finances in order, and help you when it comes to the next two points in this guide. As you update, you also get a better idea of how accurate your original plans were - if they differ widely, you know to be more conservative or optimistic for your next forecast.
Your business plan should forward-plan the next 12 months on a month-by-month basis. Work out how you expect all areas of the business to develop over the next year. From employees to finances and sales to overheads and marketing - everything must be in your plan. This means you're always able to work out the next step towards reaching your longer term goals. It also highlights any areas of shortfall or cash-flow problems that may lie ahead, and gives you time to prepare for them.
Referring to your business plan regularly - at least once a month - will allow you to check your progress against the goals you've set yourself. This means checking that you're staying true to your company's vision, and plans, as much as achieving sales targets. A live business plan will clearly lay out the state of your business and the balance of elements like recruitment and overheads so you'll be able to determine more easily whether or not you can afford to take on that extra member of staff or spend that extra bit of cash updating your website or see if you're in trouble financially.
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