Entrepreneurs often regret that their business plan may be a time-consuming document which is used to achieve funding, but quickly becomes irrelevant due to rapid changes in the market and new opportunities and threats that arise. However, ideally a business plan begins as a document focused on wooing funders and remains important and relevant going forward. We'll cover the basics of updating your business plan in this article, but to fully appreciate how your company's business plan can be kept current it's a good idea to take online business management courses.
Revisit The Plan Regularly
The business plan cannot be put into a drawer and forgotten. If it was valuable to impress investors, it is valuable as a guiding document for the business. On a regular basis (at least monthly or quarterly) review the plan as written against the activities and results of your business. Look for major discrepancies between what you planned and are actually doing. If you can justify why your actions represent a better course, update the plan with a new version to reflect this.
Update Competitors and Customers
The competitors and customers you expected to have before launch may not be those you have anymore soon after launch. Take time to reconsider who your top competitors are and collect information on them in your plan to guide your management team. If your primary customer targets have changed, consider why and if this was a wise choice. Gather the needed information on your new targets and consider trends affecting those groups going forward.
Learn From Mistakes
During this process of updating the plan, you should consider whether courses of action you planned for turned out to be a mistake as well as instances where not following the plan turned out to be a mistake. Look for the source of the mistake to determine if it can be eliminated going forward. For example, if the directions of the plan simply were not handed down to managers and employees in a systematic way, how can you rectify this? Alternately, if the planning process was incomplete or flawed, how can you plan better knowing this? Working with an experienced business plan consultant can help you avoid the mistakes that others have made before you.
Plan Ahead Further
A business plan generally looks about five years ahead. After a year has passed, it is time for you to add an additional year of planning and projections and update the plan for the coming four. Create both financial and non-financial projections of where the company will be in that new fifth year and consider how the marketing, operations, and hiring will have to change to reflect this. Remember that the audience of the plan is now probably your managers and employees who need to be unified in their understanding of where the business is headed. However, having a continually updated plan keeps your company ready to seek additional capital funding to speed up expansion when the time comes.
Now that you're ready to move ahead with your new business plan, don't forget to revisit it from time to time to make sure it's still in line with your company goals; it's also important to keep your skills current with online business management classes.