The Power of Drafting an Annual Business Plan
….If you want to grow, one of the most important steps is to develop a plan for growth — and then make planning an ongoing process of your company. Remember: You can’t reach a goal you haven’t set.
It’s planning that’s important, not necessarily the plan. The planning process itself brings you the biggest benefits—examining your business, figuring out what’s profitable, identifying threats and opportunities, making decisions.
Business Plans for Small Businesses
Business planning isn’t just for start-ups, either. It’s a vital tool for long-term survival and success, especially for a small business. That’s why it’s important to develop a business plan every year.
“Hope is not a strategy,” said Joy Taylor of Taygan Point Consulting Group. “You must plan for what you wish to achieve. There are elements to success and you must plan for them. You need a vision for growth and know the strategic imperatives for achieving that growth. It won’t just happen. And you must take small pieces at a time.”
Although Taylor often works with huge global companies, she stresses the importance of ongoing planning for small businesses.
“The smaller the business the more focused you need to be, the more you need to plan,” Taylor said. “If you don’t plan, then any ‘shiny object’ seems like a good idea. In order to maintain focus, you must have a plan. And planning is not a one-time thing.”
Important Steps for the Planning Session
Developing an annual business plan is a way to step back from the daily grind, set goals, and decide on the best strategies for reaching those goals in the coming year.
During your planning session for growth, here are some steps to follow:
• Evaluate the past. What’s worked and what hasn’t.
• List your goals. How much money you want to make; changes in products/services and your marketing and operations.
• Get specific. With each goal, add a specific number.
• Identify the steps necessary to achieve objectives.
• Estimate costs. Put a dollar figure next to each step.
• Estimate time expenditure.
• Delegate responsibilities. Determine who’ll be responsible and how many people are needed.
• Prioritize and conduct a reality check. Are you overly ambitious?
• Gain consensus. Are all affected parties willing to commit?
• Set deadlines.
• Write everything down. You now have an action plan with goals, deadlines, and job assignments.