While December is a busy time for small businesses trying to end the year on a high note, it should also be a time for introspection and review. After all, December is National Write a Business Plan Month!
You might think this occasion is reserved for new, aspiring business owners. But a business plan is so crucial for success that it’s also a good idea to take time to review your plan on a regular basis. This month is a great time for that.
Here’s how to review your business plan to prepare for success in the coming year.
1. Set aside one hour to review your business plan
Yes, you can make progress in just one hour! Set aside quiet time to read through your business plan — no matter how old it is — cover to cover.
Don’t be hard on yourself if your current business reality isn’t the same as your plan projected. Celebrate your successes, of course! But your real task here is to read and contemplate your plan. Pay attention to how you feel as you do this, and jot down any ideas or thoughts that come to mind.
2. Step away from your plan for a short time
Don’t rush to any conclusions or judgments when you finish reading your plan. Set aside the document. Take a walk. Get back to work for a few hours.
See what thoughts bubble up about your plan. Do any ideas spring to mind to improve your business plan?
If you find yourself feeling frustrated during this step, remember that your business plan is a living document that can be changed at any time. No plan is set in stone unless you want it to be.
3. Set goals for 2017
It’s time to set goals for 2017. What do you hope to accomplish? Do those goals fall in line with your original business plan, or is it time to draft a new version?
One of the best ways your business plan can guide you in setting new goals is by reviewing your weaknesses.
Your business plan includes a SWOT analysis, evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for your own business compared to your competition. Go back to the “weaknesses” portion of that report. Do you still agree with what you listed for your business? Are those weaknesses still true for your business, yourself as the boss, or both? Whether you’ve added skills and strengths to your business endeavor or you’re still struggling, think about how you can grow — or ask for more help — in 2017.
When you’re finished, you’ll probably have a lot of ideas for your business for 2017 and years to come. The beginning of the year is a great time to set up a meeting with a SCORE mentor to talk about how to help your business grow. Anxious to get started right away? Don’t wait! Volunteer mentors work all year round — including around the holidays — to support small business.