A new year, and in fact a new decade in this case, brings about a great opportunity to start fresh in your business. Updating your business plan allows you to refocus on your direction and priorities in the post-Christmas period. This will allow you to start the year with momentum and clarity on what it is you will achieve. Use any new insights to form your revised business plan.

Here are a couple of areas of your business plan to review and update:

The numbers

Review the sales results for the last 12 months and compare these to the forecast you had in place. Look for trends and problems areas that may indicate opportunities for improvement. The same applies to the business expenses and cash flow forecasts. How do the actual figures stack up against your forecasted numbers? Look for any unexpected expenses throughout the year and identify how you can avoid them in the future. 

Identify top selling products or services and those not selling so well. Where can you grow your share of market with those top selling items. Look at how you can phase out your low profit products or services or begin to make them profitable.

Then start to draft your forward forecast for the next 12 months. What are the numbers expected to look like in the short, medium and long term future?

Consider your personnel requirements for the next 12 months and identify key positions that need to be retained or filled. Create a forecast for personnel numbers going forward and any expenses associated with recruiting new personnel or reducing personnel numbers.

The competitors

Review your current and potential competitors. Analyse what they are doing well. Be mindful of any market disruptors hitting your market and how you can adapt to the disruption. Reviewing competitors can be as easy as a web search, looking at marketing done by the business or visiting them as a potential customer. 

Consider copying the aspects that your competitors do well and adding your point of difference. Seeking feedback from your competitor’s clients may also provide you with business insight that you can leverage to increase your sales. 

The customers

Review your customer feedback in the last 12 months. Are there opportunities for improvements in service and product delivery? Identify flaws in your processes that lead to negative feedback from clients and formulate a plan to fix them. 

Review your value proposition from your customers perspective. Are you meeting their needs or solving their problems with your product or service? Are your customers changing their buying habits in relation to your product or service?

The Resources and Time

Review your own strengths, skills and time available to spend on various aspects of the business. How do you utilise your strengths and spend most of your time on the things you like to do? How can you outsource the things you don’t like to do? Consider how much time you have to complete the work and determine where you will need support and how you can resource this?

Don’t be concerned if your business plan from last year did not eventuate or you did not achieve certain aspects of your plan. A business plan is a fluid document that is based on best estimates and aspirational goals. We all know that business doesn’t always go to plan. Revise your business plan as often as needed to help you focus on what you need to achieve and track your business performance in the longer term. Use any new insights to form your revised business plan and be ready to tackle the new decade ahead.

Jo Coveney