You’ve written your business plan. You read all the business plan writing guides to make sure it was perfect, you’ve performed your SWOT analysis, you’ve calculated one-year growth estimates given ideal, average, and poor market climates, you’ve created a strong organizational structure, and you’ve positioned yourself in the market. Whether you created the plan to guide your own behaviour or to attract investors, you’ve got it in your hands. You’re finally done business planning!
Not so fast.
Look again at all of the points that were brought up in that first paragraph. Your SWOT analysis? That’s going to change as your business grows and your competition changes. Your one-year growth estimates? Once a year has gone by, you’re going to need to re-evaluate them. The same goes for growth estimates for any length of time; you’ll need to adjust them and reevaluate. Your organizational structure will inevitably shift as your business grows, and your position in the market will, too. Your business plan needs to change with your business.
You might ask yourself why you need to change your business plan – after all, if it was being used to attract investors and you’ve had success, mission accomplished! Realistically, though, your investors are going to want to see reports about how your business is doing and what your plan is going forward. Continually updating your business plan will help expedite and clarify communication with investors. You might want to attract more investors, too, and an old business plan isn’t going to help with that. Those who are using the business plan as a guide should update it, because as circumstances change, your guidelines should change, too. Business plans can also be useful for attracting C-suite and other high-level employees to help take your business to the next level.
There’s an Entrepreneur article that sums up the urgency of business plan updates very well. You should be updating your plan every year, every month, every day, every moment. Plans are about the future and the future is always shifting, so elements of your plan should shift, too. That doesn’t mean that nothing in your plan is sturdy. Things like your guiding principles, your motto and your line of business should change very slowly, if at all. Predictions about how well you’re going to do in a particular quarter and analyses of your weaknesses and strengths? Those should be shifting almost constantly, just like the markets do. While you don’t have to commit yourself to updating your physical business plan daily, you should consider doing so monthly, if not more often.
All of this analysis can be hard to do on your own. You may have spent a lot of money on marketing, which causes a hit to your total assets. How can you predict how much money that marketing will recoup? You may have had a slow quarter but be performing better year-to-date than you were last year – what does that mean for projected growth? When you have a Winnipeg CPA accountant working with you, it can be easier to understand your financial situation, and that will help you adjust your plan properly.