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The Business View – October 2014 / Small Business Corner
Growth Planning Beyond Business Planning
Experts agree that regular business plan reviews are essential, both when a business is new and, even more so, as it grows and matures. It’s critical to revisit and revise your financial projections, and make sure the factors behind them remain accurate.
As your business evolves, there are other things that influence what you do and the customers you serve, as well as a new set of unknowns surrounding expansions. Merely assuming things will work out or taking a haphazard approach is even riskier now than when you started out because you have much more invested in the business.
That’s why it’s critical to regularly engage in strategic planning. Define near- and longterm objectives, the strategy and tactics for pursuing them and metrics for gauging progress. The result, known as a growth plan, will provide a better roadmap for tackling the future and better position the business for new opportunities.
Start by comparing the current status of your business with your original intent. Are you where you intended to be, or have you modified your mission? What are your current strengths, and what areas could be improved upon? Any glaring problems or shortcomings should be addressed as quickly as possible.
Also, take a comprehensive look at the state of your market and what is shaping it. Your original expectations may be on target, or there may be emerging trends that will radically alter your industry. Needs and issues facing your existing and target customers should also be examined.
With that information in hand, project three to five years out and set objectives to keep your business in step with these trends. What resources will be needed (such as new staff, training, upgraded equipment and facilities), and where can they be found? What costs are involved and what kind of learning curve may be required? Develop an action plan for each of these milestones as appropriate.
Regularly review your growth plan to assess your progress. Like your business plan, it is a guide that should be adapted as conditions change. You may find yourself ahead of schedule, or dealing with unforeseen factors that require a schedule revision or complete overhaul. But your business can only benefit, as there’s no such thing as too much planning.
Two helpful books on small business growth planning include The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz; and Strategic Planning: Fundamentals for Small Business by Gary May.
The Mobile Area Chamber’s small business development department offers professional development, networking and support for its members.
Click here to read The Business View – October 2014